Saturday’s Pac-12 Tournament final in Las Vegas was about as tense of a contest as you could ask for.
The UCLA Bruins were in the driver’s seat for a good portion of the afternoon, but the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats refused to go away, as the game went back and forth in the last 18 minutes of the second half.
The top two seeds in the tournament were tied at 68 for several minutes until Bruins sophomore Jordan Adams hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds to go. The Wildcats could not regain the lead in the closing seconds, and UCLA held on for a 75-71 upset, giving the Bruins the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament title. Arizona’s overall record fell to 30-4 on the season, while UCLA improved to 26-8.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s contest by the numbers:
Arizona could never build a lead bigger than two points in the conference final. The Wildcats led 3-2 early on, but did not regain the lead until the 15:41 mark of the second half. The Bruins built a lead as big as 11 with about eight minutes left in the first half.
After Adam’s 3-pointer broke a 68-68 tie, Arizona had three different looks to tie the game, all futile. Aaron Gordon airballed a three from the corner, and then on the following possession, Nick Johnson had a 3-point attempt blocked and T.J. McConnell bricked a long-range shot off the glass.
The score was tied at 68 for more than three minutes of game time until Adams hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left. During that scoreless duration, both teams combined for eight missed shots, two missed free throws and four turnovers.
In the loss, Gordon recorded a game-high and a personal-best eight assists. The Wildcats and Bruins both finished with 16 assists in the game.
Johnson led all scorers with 22 points, as he had several dunks and hit 3-of-8 shots from downtown. The Pac-12 Player of the year also added five rebounds and three big blocks — the latter tying his season high. The Wildcats lost for the first time this season when he has scored 20 or more. Three other Wildcats — Gordon, Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York — scored in double-figures Saturday, while three Bruins reached the mark.
Free throw shooting was again problematic for the Wildcats, as they made just 6-of-16 attempts (37.5). Gordon struggled the most, only converting 2-of-8 free throw tries. UCLA’s shooting from the charity stripe made the difference, as they earned 25 free throw attempts, making 21 of them (84 percent).
Both squads shot well above 50 percent in the first half as they combined for 83 points, but buckets were harder to come by after the break. Despite the loss, Arizona was slightly more efficient from the field Saturday, shooting 45.9 percent. The Bruins finished at 43.1 percent shooting. The Wildcats had a pretty good afternoon from long range, making 9-of-22 attempts (40.9 percent), while UCLA made just 4-of-12 3-pointers (33.3 percent).
McConnell picked up six assists Saturday to give him 187 on the season — the 10th-highest total in Wildcats history.
The Wildcats narrowly missed out on their first Pac-12 Tournament win since 2002, back when Lute Olson was coaching and Luke Walton was the tournament MVP. UCLA picked up its first tournament win since 2008, its fourth overall. These two programs are now tied for the most Pac-12 Tournament championships since the regular-season-ending tourney debuted in 1987.