With 9:57 to go in the second half, the UA Wildcats were up by 11 and on the verge of making a third straight trip to the Pac-12 tournament final. But paced by freshman Jordan Adams’ 17 points down the stretch, UCLA managed to squeak out a stunning 66-64 victory.
In two earlier losses to UCLA this season, the Wildcats struggled to start halves. Friday, UA made sure to not let history repeat itself three times in one year. Sean Miller’s squad took an early 10-8 advantage and held the lead for the final 13:52 of the first half.
After halftime, the Wildcats’ extended their four-point lead to 10, an advantage that held until the final 10 minutes of play.
Brandon Ashley was excellent off the bench, scoring a team-high 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
UA may have started fast, but it closed rather poorly.
Nick Johnson (3-of-12 shooting) struggled to contain Adams down the stretch and allowed the freshman to have his way on the perimeter and in the paint. By himself, Adams made more foul shots (11) than the entire UA team attempted (9). He also scored 13 straight during one second-half stretch.
While Adams and Shabazz Muhammad starred in winning time for UCLA, it was Kyle Anderson who ultimately did in UA. Following a missed three-point attempt by Adams, Anderson was uncovered under the basket and easily put back the miss for the game-winning bucket with 22.1 seconds to go.
Stat of the Game:
UA’s seniors (Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom) combined for just 25 points, while UCLA’s freshmen (Adams, Anderson and Muhammad) combined for 45 points.
• UA has now lost three of its last five games heading into the NCAA tournament, making it the team’s worst five-game stretch of the season.
• Before Friday’s loss, ESPN.com’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Arizona as a No. 4 seed. Heading into Selection Sunday, the Wildcats will most likely be a No. 4 or No. 5 seed.
• UCLA won Friday despite a dreadful shooting performance from three-point range. The Bruins were 1-of-12 from downtown.
The Wildcats will await their NCAA tournament fate on Sunday. The 68-team bracket will be unveiled at 3 p.m. MST on CBS.