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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

FINAL: Arizona 66, UCLA 58

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Gordon Bates

LOS ANGELES — Arizona lives to fight another day.

The Wildcats held off UCLA 66-58 in the Staples Center on Thursday afternoon to advance to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals where they’ll take on Oregon State on Friday at 6 p.m. PST.

Arizona was in the driver’s seat for the entire first half and most of the second as the Wildcats recaptured the defense they lost in Tempe and rode the play of Solomon Hill, Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry to victory lane.

The trio combined to score 54 points and grab 27 boards with HIll stealing the show to the tune of 25 points, 12 rebounds, three 3-pointers and three steals. Fogg scored 13 points while holding Lazeric Jones to 5-for-16 shooting.

Perry finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds and more than hung with UCLA’s massive frontline. Thanks to Perry, HIll, Kyryl Natyazhko, Angelo Chol and Nick Johnson’s four blocks the Wildcats negated UCLA’s interior size.

Center Josh Smith fouled out with with 11:03 remaining in the second half after going for seven points and three rebounds on 3-for-8 shooting. Arizona also fouled out UCLA forward Travis Wear with 2:52 remaining as the 6-foot-10 big man went to the pine with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and three blocks.

Despite being one of the smallest teams in the Pac-12 the Wildcats edged the Bruins on the boards, 39-30. Arizona’s rebounding effort and interior defense allowed the Wildcats to squeak past the Bruins and advance in the all-important Pac-12 Tournament.

Their must-win victory started in the early stages as the Wildcats jumped came out of the gates hot and forced UCLA into 10 first-half turnovers, which took the Bruins out of rhythm from the get-go. But after trailing 29-23 at the half, UCLA bounced back.

The Bruins took their first lead of the game with 8:17 left in the half thanks to a Tyler Lamb transition layup that gave UCLA a 46-45 advantage. Arizona answered back to take a 51-48 lead, but Jerime Anderson knocked down a triple 6:21 left to tie things up.

Arizona wouldn’t succumb to defeat, however, as the Wildcats rattled off a 7-0 run to take a 58-51 lead and ultimately fend off the Bruins.

The Wildcats picked up the win without starting point guard Josiah Turner, who is suspended indefinitely. Arizona also had its struggles on offense as it shot only 34.9 from the field, 33.3 from three and committed 18 turnovers.

UA starting point guard Jordin Mayes and his starting backcourt mate Johnson combined to shoot only 1-for-10 from the field for five points. Sixth man Brendon Lavender also struggled as he shot 1-for-6 from the floor.

But it was Arizona’s ability to play big and negate UCLA’s size and strength that proved to be the difference and keep UA’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

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