CORVALLIS, Ore. — What is said in the locker room, stays in the locker room … as a rule.
But when the angry words seem to burst through brick and mortar, there was no way to ignore the significance.
UCLA flat-out stunk Sunday.
Coach Steve Alford made that clear during a verbose 10-minute instant-review to his team following a 71-67 loss to Oregon State that denied the Bruins a chance to move closer to first-place Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference standings.
The reverberation of sound — think the Who in its heyday — may echo around Gill Coliseum for years to come.
“Didn’t deserve to win.”
“Didn’t care one iota.”
Alford loudly admonished the Bruins, saying they appeared to be “satisfied” with getting the victory at Oregon on Thursday and compared it to the Bruins’ last trip, when they lost to Utah after beating Colorado.
And there was no possible way to disagree with him.
The Bruins looked like a team that was wondering what time the Super Bowl kicked off from the moment they got off the bus. Alford criticized them for the effort, then put on a calmer face for the outside world.
“I thought the last two days, we did what we needed to do … in getting ready for this game,” Alford said. “We had a vast majority of guys not play with the energy and enthusiasm and passion that we’ve got to have.”
Oregon State (13-8 overall, 5-4 in Pac-12) was far from crisp. The Beavers had 18 turnovers and were a woeful 15 for 26 from the foul line. However, their 18-2 run put UCLA down, 65-54, with 2 minutes 29 seconds left.
Then the Beavers then did everything possible to hand UCLA the game. The Bruins (17-5, 6-3) just didn’t seem interested in salvaging the situation.
UCLA crept to within one, 67-66, but Jordan Adams, with a chance to put the Bruins ahead, plowed over Oregon State’s Angus Brandt on a fastbreak and was called for an offensive foul with 14 seconds left.
Alford tried to shield his players, saying, “that falls on me.” Numbers pointed elsewhere.
The Bruins shot 38%. They had 13 turnovers and 11 assists. They were out-rebounded, 39-32.
Adams, the Bruins’ leading scorer, missed all nine of his shots and seemed apprehensive to put the ball up in the second half. Zach LaVine, the Bruins best outside shooter, was one for seven from the field.
Travis Wear, David Wear and Tony Parker — UCLA’s inside presence — were outplayed. Brandt had 13 points. Eric Moreland had 11 points and 14 rebounds. The Beavers had five players in double figures, led by Hollice Cooke’s 20 points.
But mostly UCLA was lacking the inner drive to overcome a rough game.
Asked whether he could come up with a reason for the performance, Alford said, “Nope. Nope, No. That’s a hard one to figure out, because this one was a big one.”
The Bruins received a sliver of hope when California upset top-ranked Arizona on Thursday. A victory over Oregon State would have left UCLA a game out of first place.
“February is the month that sets up March and you’re right there in the league race,” Alford said.
There were no answers from the UCLA leadership, who were either befuddled or tight-lipped when asked how the Bruins could be so flat.
“I don’t know what happened,” said point guard Kyle Anderson. He was the one UCLA player who escaped blame, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.
But, he said, “this is not about the individual. It doesn’t matter if one guy came to play hard, or two or three or four. It has to be everybody.”
Senior Travis Wear was unsure about the whys. He was certain of one thing.
“You can’t put this one in the back of your mind,” he said. “We lost a game we needed to win. We have to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”