Arizona basketball wins Pac-12 Tournament for 2nd straight year over UCLA

Mar 11, 2023, 11:04 PM | Updated: 11:42 pm
Azuolas Tubelis #10 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots against Jaime Jaquez Jr. #24 of the UCLA Bruins ...
Azuolas Tubelis #10 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots against Jaime Jaquez Jr. #24 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Arizona basketball’s Courtney Ramey drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with 18 seconds left in Saturday’s Pac-12 Tournament championship game, and the No. 2 seed Wildcats defeated top-seeded UCLA, 61-59.

The Wildcats (AP No. 8) trailed by as many as nine points in the second half but climbed back in to win their second consecutive Pac-12 Tournament.

An offensive rebound by Pelle Larsson set up Ramey, who had not made a shot all night, and the wing stepped back and fired away trailing UCLA (AP No. 2) 58-57.

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell was fouled with 6.8 seconds left, and he made the first free throw but missed the second. Azuolas Tubelis hit one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds to go, and UCLA’s Dylan Andrews missed a 3 at the buzzer to ensure Arizona’s victory.

Tubelis led the way in scoring with 19 points on 17 shots, as Arizona only connected on 36.5% of its field-goal attempts.

Oumar Ballo scored 13 points and Larsson had 11.

The Wildcats outrebounded UCLA 37-32 and hit six additional free throws.

The action got off to a slow start as the score stood at 2-2 five minutes in. The offense picked up, as the Bruins led 34-33 at halftime.

UCLA started the second half hot with a 9-2 run to pull ahead. But the Wildcats hunkered down defensively and clawed back in, regaining a 50-48 lead with nine minutes remaining on a Larsson three-pointer.

The Bruins knew coming in they wouldn’t have guard Jaylen Clark (lower leg) or Adem Bona (shoulder), and their problems only mounted when two of Bona’s replacements in the post got into foul trouble.

Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba each had four fouls in the second half, forcing coach Mick Cronin to play at least one of them. Etienne fouled out with 9:35 left and Nwuba with 4:27 remaining, meaning the Bruins had to play with a smaller lineup the rest of the game.

Arizona wasn’t completely healthy, either. Point guard Kerr Kriisa has been playing with a balky shoulder this tournament.

The Wildcats took two of three games against UCLA this year.

Arizona (28-6) boosted its case for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament with the win. UCLA (29-5) still hopes to land the No. 1 seed in the West and return to Las Vegas in two weeks for the regional.

Tubelis was named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Arizona reached the final after wins over Stanford and Arizona State.

Arizona second-year coach Tommy Lloyd is 9-0 in Las Vegas, 8-0 at T-Mobile Arena and 6-0 in the Pac-12 Tournament.

The latest Bracketology from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Arizona and UCLA as No. 2 seeds in the Big Dance. Projected No. 1 seed Kansas fell in the Big 12 Tournament to Texas on Saturday.

The bracket will be revealed on Selection Sunday, starting at 4 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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