Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller – “All of us as coaches have friends that you have to coach against. It’s kind of like an old storyline, but in my case, I really hated when we had to play Pepperdine. [Pepperdine Head Coach] Lorenzo [Romar] is a great friend, and he was at Arizona during at a really tough time; he was like a gift from God. Learned so much from him, and I think we shared a lot of moments. You don’t want to play against that type of friend, but we had to do it tonight. I thought his team played great. 13 3’s and they’re an excellent free throw shooting team which sometimes doesn’t get enough credit for how good a team is. But when you shoot over 80% from the free throw line in the way they shoot the ball and spread you out, they are a very difficult team to defend. We certainly weren’t at our best tonight, first time away from McHale. I thought the three freshmen were all outstanding in their own right talking about Nico [Mannion], Josh [Green], and Zeke [Nnaji]. They also all three had many learning opportunities they learned tonight, being away from home, late game situations, and some ill-advised turnovers. November is really an opportunity for every team to get better and learn and grow. If you can maybe steal a win, that’s maybe how I’d describe tonight. Not that we didn’t deserve it, but that game could’ve gone either way. It makes it a little bit better when to be able to learn these types of lessons from a game like tonight and still having won. Niko, what a great coast-to-coast play for a freshman. He shot like a true hook shot there at the end, but that’s who he is. He’s made a lot of game winners in his day; that’s what great guards do. For him to take the ball full court like that and make that shot, it was a big moment for us. (On Arizona Guard Josh Green making his three 3’s in a row) “I thought that gap is really what allowed us to win the game, but I thought we were going to be able to hold steady on that gap. Did I think they were going to go away? No. Did I think they were going to punch it out and take it all the way back to tied or one-possession game? I think we had more confidence in our ability to get a stop. One of the things our team needs to get better at is rebounding. We knew that before we showed up here. Tonight, is another reminder that if you give teams seconds shots, a lot of bad things happen. Some of their best 3-opint shots in biggest scoring possessions happened when they got more than one shot. They’re not a big team, but they’re scrappy and they hustle. We ended up rebounding but winning it by three when you have the size advantage, we have isn’t good enough.
Arizona Guard Nico Mannion – “First of all, hats off to Pepperdine for a really good game. They shot the ball really well and gave us some trouble, but proud of my games and fought to the end.” (On the last play) “They ended up tying it up and I looked up at the clock and saw seven seconds, trying to go coast-to-coast. I know I wasn’t going to go and get a layup with the big guy on my left, so I just floated it up and it ended up going in.” (On winning the first six games handily, but this game going to the last possession) “I think in the end it’ll be good for us. It’s good for us to learn a lesson from tonight, a lesson that’s still a win. We’re now 7-0 and we’ve handled six pretty well, but this 7th was difficult. It’ll be better for us to be able to handle adversity, knowing we have guys that are tough enough to battle.” (On the lessons learned tonight) “We didn’t rebound well; we got to rebound better. We have a good team with good size, and we have depth. We really shouldn’t have an issue with rebounding, but it’s been our Achille’s heel so far this year. I think that’s been our biggest thing, we gave them quite a bit of second shots. They shot the ball really well; they were 13 for 27 from three. Not a lot of second shots and being able to close out on shooters.
Arizona Guard Josh Green – “Props to Pepperdine. They have a great coach and much respect to him and the team. It good for us to come out and have a hard battle. We were able to pull it out in the end, and just proud of the guys for how we handled it.” (On hitting the three 3’s in a row) “I’m just glad I came out and showed confidence. It’s been one of the things I’ve been working on. It was a big part, but it played well for the team. I hit those three 3’s, but we got back-to-back stops. It’s great that I those three 3’s, but we played great defense for those three possessions.” (On Arizona Guard Dylan Smith) “That’s our veteran, so I think with his experience comes with plays like that. He hit those big 3’s for us and that was huge for us. It just shows how experienced and composed he was, and we have a lot of respect for him.
Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar – That was a heck of a ballgame. Give our guys a lot of credit just for fighting. That’s what we talk about, fighting and competing. We made too many mistakes to overcome an Arizona team that is really good.
Dylan Smith and Josh Green really stepped it up from the perimeter and hurt us there. Overall, they did a good job. I respect the heck out of Sean (Miller), their program and everything they’re doing.
Our guys were pretty locked in. In the first half Colbey Ross did a phenomenal job of scoring and running our team, got everybody else involved. In the second half, Kameron Edwards was just a monster. Skylar Chavez shot the ball well. There were a lot of guys who stepped up and played well. Jade Smith defensively and on the glass did a lot of things that help you be successful. Looking at our guys on every play the entire game trying to compete is all we can ask for.
(On Arizona jumping out to a 69-57 lead): I think my exact words were ‘Well, there’s the run.’ We had told our team that Arizona’s going to have runs and we talked about how our game went in the first half wasn’t unlike some of the other games they’ve played this year. The other team plays close and they come out in the second half and just blasted them. We wanted to work as hard as we could to not let that happen.
Colbey Ross is extremely underappreciated. When you have a guard that can go out and score 16 because that was available in the first half, then come out in the second half, whatever was different in terms of the game, he recognized that and he’s distributing the ball to the other guys. That’s the mark of a very good guard. Some might want to do that but don’t have the ability to do it. Then he comes back from these misses then hits the big shot to tie the game down the stretch – he’s just a very good guard.
(On the last possession down two): We took a gamble and lost, we rolled the dice and lost. What we didn’t want to happen is we take the last shot. If we don’t make the shot, the game’s over, we have no way to try another shot. We wanted to give it enough time to where if we missed, we could foul and get the ball back again. Nico (Mannion) hit a runner, a big-time shot, that I thought was pretty well defended. Nico’s a really good player.
- Three of the four games on the opening day of competition were decided by two points or less… the only other year which had three games in the entire 12-game tournament decided by two points or less was in 2009, which also featured a two-point game and a pair of one-point games.
- The 184 combined points were the second most in a single Wooden Legacy game (194 in 2016)… Both teams by themselves eclipsed the total points scored in the lowest scoring game in tournament history (90 in 2012).
- This game marked the seventh time in Wooden Legacy history since the 2010 tournament that both teams shot at least 50% FG… as well, it was just the fourth time in that span that both teams made at least 10 3pt-FGs.
- Arizona leads the series 6-0, with this being just the second one determined by single digits.
- Arizona has started a season 7-0 nine times since the start of the 1987-88 season… seven of those years the Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Regionals, including two appearances in the NCAA Final Four.
- Arizona shot 34-56 (.607) FG, the sixth time a team has eclipsed 60% FG in a Wooden Legacy game since the 2010 tournament… Arizona did not miss consecutive shots in the last 24:30 of the game and connected on 18-25 (.720) in the second half.
- This marked just the second time since the start of the 2010-11 season that Arizona has yielded at 91 points in a game that ended in regulation… the last time Arizona gave up that many points in a regulation game and won was 1/29/09 vs. Washington (106-97).
- Freshman Josh Green set a career high with 24 points, the fifth time in seven games he eclipsed 10 points and second time with 20+.
- Freshman Zeke Nnaji recorded his second career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
- Freshman Nico Mannion logged a double-double with 16 points and 11 assists, becoming just the seventh player in Wooden Legacy history to get a double-double with points and assists (and the first to do so since UCLA’s Lonzo Ball did it twice in 2016)… the 11 assists is just one shy of the all-time tournament record.
- All 91 of Pepperdine’s points came from the starters (the bench was just 0-4 FG).
- Pepperdine had all five starters score 15 points… the Waves had all five starters score 10+ points for the fifth time since 11/26/18 (the previous four times were all wins).
- Three Pepperdine players scored at least 20 points for the first time since at least the 2009-10 season.
- Kameron Edwards scored 20+ points for the fifth time this season and 16th time in his career.
- Colbey Ross scored 20 points, scoring in double figures for the 21st straight game and the 42nd time in the last 43 games… this was his 29th career game with 20+.
- Skylar Chavez had 20 points, the most since he became a Wave this season.