Rapid Reaction: UCLA 74, Arizona 69
March, 2, 2013
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Bruins completed a season sweep of the Arizona Wildcats -- the first for either team in the series since UCLA won both in 2008 -- with a 74-69 victory Saturday at a sold-out Pauley Pavilion. A quick look:
How it happened: Grant Jerrett made consecutive 3-point baskets that got the Wildcats (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12) to within three points at 72-69 with 1:07 to play. But Shabazz Muhammad grabbed a strong rebound with nine seconds to play, then made two free throws to seal the victory for UCLA (22-7, 12-4).
In a game of runs, UCLA had the game's longest, scoring 12 consecutive points in the second half to take a 52-38 lead. They were up 55-41 with 14:26 to play. The Wildcats then responded. They cut the lead to 59-54 before Muhammad stopped the bleeding for UCLA with a 3-pointer that gave the Bruins a 62-54 lead with 8:50 to play. The Wildcats did not get closer than six points until Jerrett's 3-pointer with 1:34 to go.
UCLA had several opportunities to take control of the game in the first half, but the Wildcats kept coming back. UCLA led 13-6, then Arizona tied it at 13-13. The game also was knotted at 29 and 34, but the Wildcats could never take the lead. The Bruins got a layup at the halftime buzzer from Larry Drew II to put UCLA up 40-36.
Muhammad finished with a game-high 18 points, Kyle Anderson had 17 points and seven rebounds and Drew II had 14 points and nine assists. Jerrett led the Wildcats with 14 points and made four of five 3-point attempts.
Player of the game: Muhammad, playing on a sprained ankle, scored UCLA's final five points and eight of their last 15. His clutch one-handed rebound with nine seconds left was something to behold.
What it means: UCLA remains in control of its own destiny in the race for the Pac-12 regular-season title. The Bruins are tied with Oregon for first place and would claim at least a share of the title with wins at Washington State and Washington next week. Saturday’s victory likely locks up an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament for the Bruins, who missed the tournament last season.
Despite the defeat, Arizona seems to be pretty safe as far as the NCAA tournament goes, but the Wildcats have been officially eliminated from the Pac-12 regular-season race and can’t be feeling good with a 3-4 record over the past seven games.
What’s next: UCLA heads to the Northwest to finish the regular season with visits to the Cougars and Huskies. The Bruins play Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Pullman. Arizona is off until next Saturday at 2:30, when the Wildcats play the in-state rival Arizona State Sun Devils to finish the regular season.