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No. 15 Arizona looks to avenge loss to UCLA in Pac-12 Tournament

UCLA center Thomas Welsh (40) and Arizona's Dusan Ristic (14) wait for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. UCLA defeated Arizona 82-74. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats only lost two games in a row during the Pac-12 conference schedule, and that second loss came at the hands of the UCLA Bruins in Tucson.

The 82-74 defeat on Feb. 8 was Arizona’s lone home loss of the season and now they get the chance to avenge it in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on Friday at 6:00 p.m.

Following a closely contested half in the quarterfinals against Colorado, the Wildcats cruised in the second half, a surprising fact considering Deandre Ayton’s performance.

He shot 4-of-14 from the field, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds before fouling out.

Balance helped out the Wildcats, as all five starters scored in double figures, including 22 points from Allonzo Trier.

As for the Bruins, they advanced because of a signature performance from All-Pac-12 guard Aaron Holiday. He had 34 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in an 88-77 victory over Stanford.

In that first meeting in Tucson, UCLA was able to hang on the glass while being efficient from three. Despite the dominant interior duo of Ayton and Dusan Ristic manning the middle for the Wildcats, the Bruins were only minus-one on the glass and shot 11-of-24 from three.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller was critical of his team’s defense after that loss.

“We’re a much better offensive team than defense. That’s the truth,” he said. “I think the gap has never been bigger and it’s up to us to continue to work.”

That makes it all the better when Miller praised the defense after the team’s win almost a month later against Colorado.

“I really liked our defense, especially in the second half,” Miller said. “We had plenty of transition opportunities because of our defense and that’s when we’re at our best.

“I thought our ball screen defense was good. Our team defense was good. We had a lot of players working together. I didn’t really look at them having a lot of great looks that they missed. I think our defense was intact.”

The Bruins will be going all out, as ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has had UCLA firmly on the bubble throughout the week on the heels of Selection Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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