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UCLA's Alford: No bad blood with Arizona's Miller

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES--The pettiness was apparently left in Las Vegas.

UCLA coach Steve Alford said Tuesday that he spoke with Arizona coach Sean Miller to clear the air after the Wildcats coach called what appeared to be a tit-for-tat timeout during the Pac-12 Conference tournament last season with his team leading the Bruins by 11 points and only nine-tenths of a second to play.

Miller was thought to be mad because Alford called a timeout with one second left while holding a five-point advantage during the Bruins' victory over the Wildcats two weeks earlier in Tucson.

Alford didn't realize his timeout had angered anyone until he walked toward midcourt for postgame handshakes during the Pac-12 tournament only to watch the Wildcats delay the exchange with a timeout. The coaches swapped perfunctory handshakes a few moments later.

"I think we learned from UCLA in that (previous) game (it's) just making sure your team is poised moving forward," Miller said dryly afterward. "When they called their timeout late, we wanted to do the same thing. Make sure our team was poised moving forward."

Alford said he didn't mean any harm with his timeout and told Miller.

"I think he thought that I was doing something disrespectful in Tucson and I wasn't," Alford said. "As I told him, it was respect for his program because we hadn't won down there and I didn't want anything goofy happening, so that was all taken care of and he understood that and I don't think he meant any disrespect my way either.

"We have a mutual respect and I know from my end I have a great respect in him as a coach and them as a program."

Should UCLA hold a safe lead over No. 13 Arizona in the final seconds Thursday night at McKale Center, don't expect another timeout.

"No, no, no, no, no, no," Alford said when asked whether there would be further retaliation.

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