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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats fall 77-72 to Bruins, lose standing in Pac-12

UCLAs+Lonzo+Ball+%282%29+attempts+to+shoot+the+ball+over+Arizonas+Kadeem+Allen+%285%29+during+the+mens+basketball+game+on+Feb.+25+in+McKale+Center.
Pearl Dixon

UCLA’s Lonzo Ball (2) attempts to shoot the ball over Arizona’s Kadeem Allen (5) during the men’s basketball game on Feb. 25 in McKale Center.

The Arizona Wildcats gave up 20 second-chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds to No. 4 UCLA and cost themselves the outright Pac-12 Conference regular season championship, losing to the Bruins 77-72 in McKale Center Saturday. Kadeem Allen had a chance to tie the game at 75, but his last-second attempt missed the rim wide right, bringing his final game in McKale Center to an end on senior night.

Sophomore Allonzo Trier led the way for Arizona with 28 points and five rebounds.

After the loss, Trier reiterated Allen’s importance to the team:

“I told him I love him,” Trier said when asked what he said to Allen after the game. “I appreciate him for everything. His effort, his leadership, everything he brings to the team.”

The Bruins tried to push the pace with their up-tempo brand of offense, but Arizona was able to slow them down with made baskets and long possessions.

UCLA found success when they strung together defensive stops against the Wildcats. The Bruins went on an 11-0 run after an early Allen 3-point shot, and star freshman Lonzo Ball found his comfort zone early.

Ball finished the first half of the game with 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists. The future NBA lottery pick led the Bruins in +/- (12) and impacted the game with a few key defensive plays as well.

In a back-and-forth first half, neither team was able to break the game open, and the biggest lead of the half was UCLA by 7 points.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 9 points in the first half, with the last 4 of those points earned in the last 14 seconds to give Arizona a 4-point edge at halftime. He finished with 11 points and six assists.

The energy both on the floor and in the arena remained frantic heading into the second half, and both teams continued to answer each other.

Ball wasted no time launching the second half with a coast-to-coast layup on UCLA’s first possession, as the teams picked up right where the first half ended. Any shift in momentum was met by a made basket on the other end of the floor.

While it did at first seem like no team could put any distance between themselves, it was the Bruins who made the second half’s first big run.

With UCLA ahead 56-55 and 11:47 to go, the Wildcats went cold from the field and allowed the Bruins to go on an 11-2 run that spanned five minutes. The Bruins connected on three consecutive 3-point shots during the run, and the Wildcats found themselves staring at a 67-57 deficit with 6:47 to go.

“They went to their 3-2 zone and we just didn’t execute,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “We had only four offensive rebounds and 4 second-chance points. We lost our purpose [against the zone].”

UCLA’s five-minute spurt proved to be the only difference in the game. The Wildcats were in the midst of a run several times in the final five minutes, but the Bruins were able to hit enough shots to keep the Wildcats at bay.

Arizona held the ball with under 10 seconds left trailing only by 3 points but were unable to convert after Allen botched a 3 and UCLA subsequently secured the rebound.

Arizona struggled on the glass throughout the night, and the Bruins were able to take advantage of the Wildcats’ inability to secure defensive rebounds. The Bruins snared 14 offensive rebounds, and it led to 20 second-chance points compared to just 4 for the Wildcats.

“I think the storyline of winning and losing for us tonight was twofold,” Miller said. “One, you gave up 14 second-shots, 20 second-chance points and 11 of their 14 second-shots happened in 20 minutes. They were the bigger, stronger, tougher more physical team after the ball.”

Arizona now sits in a tie for first place in the Pac-12 with the Oregon Ducks, but the Ducks own the tiebreaker over the Wildcats after defeating them Feb. 4. The Wildcats wrap up their regular season against ASU next weekend, and Miller is already looking forward to the matchup.

“Tough loss—we’ll put this behind us in some ways,” Miller said. “In other ways to learn from it and a week from today to be better, healthy and ready to go.”

The Wildcats wrap up the regular season on Saturday, March 4, in Tempe when they take on the ASU Sun Devils at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be aired on CBS. 


Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter


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