Mick Cronin goes ballistic on officials following UCLA's blown lead vs. Arizona
Mick Cronin’s UCLA team twice had a huge lead against Arizona. First, the Bruins had a 19-point lead early in the game and then rebuilt that lead to 17 points in the second half.
However, it wasn’t enough as the Wildcats stormed back for a 77-71 win Saturday evening. It was the largest comeback for Arizona since 2013, more than a decade ago.
After the game, Cronin particularly hammered on the officiating as a main issue for the Bruins. The head coach said it’s “hard to win” when the opposition shoots 23 free throws in a half, something Arizona did in the second half while coming back.
Arizona would finish the game 25-for-29 from the free-throw line while UCLA went 12-for-14 from the charity stripe:
“It’s hard to win a game when the other team shoots 23 free throws in the second half. It’s hard to win a game. The team that’s losing usually has to play harder to catch up when you have a double-figure deficit. You’re the one that’s going to get the fouls… Not the winning team,” said Cronin. “We’re not trying to pressure or steal the ball, but that’s the way it went. That’s when it’s hard to win a game.”
Cronin did not stop there, saying UCLA was able to run its offense before the break until the game became a “street fight” on the court. He also said the Bruins were winning a “clean game” but Arizona opted to make it “a hold and grabfest” in the second half.
“We were able to pass and move and run offense in the first half, then the game became an unofficiated street fight and we had to spread it out and drive the ball,” Cronin exclaimed. “We couldn’t throw a pass.
“It was really smart on their part because we were winning a clean game, so they just went and made it a hold-and-grabfest and we couldn’t run any offense. All we had was Sebastian at that point to drive the ball because nobody else could drive the ball for us.”
It’s not uncommon for a coach to be critical of officiating, but Cronin took things to another level. And while some of the calls likely had a role in the flow of the game, it’s a rough look to pin a 19-point meltdown solely on the feet of the officials.
Here’s Cronin’s full postgame press conference: