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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats exude energy in loss

    UCLA senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real contests Arizona sophomore forward Chase Budingers shot in the Bruins 68-66 win in McKale Center yesterday. Arizona is 17-12 overall, including a 7-9 mark in the Pacific 10 Conference.
    UCLA senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real contests Arizona sophomore forward Chase Budinger’s shot in the Bruins’ 68-66 win in McKale Center yesterday. Arizona is 17-12 overall, including a 7-9 mark in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    No. 4 UCLA 68, Arizona 66

    The batteries were fully charged this time.

    On Senior Day in McKale Center yesterday, the Arizona men’s basketball team played like a completely different squad than when it was trounced by 22 points in Los Angeles a month ago. With the chance for revenge – and a case for a NCAA Tournament bid – the Wildcats (17-12, 7-9 Pacific 10 Conference) nearly upset No. 4 UCLA before a crowd of 14,624, but the Bruins (26-3, 14-2) were too much as they beat the host 68-66.

    “”It had nothing to do with Senior Day,”” said senior guard Jawann McClellan. “”We just point-blank had to come out and prove something and point-blank got our butts kicked up there. We didn’t want to come out here and get our butts kicked on national television in our house.””

    Down 67-63 with 50.8 seconds left, UA guard Jerryd Bayless made a layup to cut the UCLA lead in half. Bruin guard Russell Westbrook was fouled with 14 seconds left and made one of two shots from the free-throw line, extending the lead to 3.

    UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill told Bayless to shoot a 3-pointer if it was open. Otherwise, get a deuce, foul a Bruin and take the last shot. Instead, Bayless was fouled by UCLA center Kevin Love and made one of two shots at the charity stripe. The miss was knocked out of bounds by UCLA.

    With no timeouts left to run a play, O’Neill said the plan was for forward Chase Budinger and Bayless to go between UCLA’s two screens and then for one of them to fire off a 2 to tie the game or a trey to win it – whichever was available.

    But when the ball was inbounded to senior center Kirk Walters on the right side with 5.7 seconds left, he hesitated before giving the ball to Bayless, who launched an off-balanced 3 at the buzzer that didn’t drop.

    “”We tried to run a play but they switched everything,”” said Bayless, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. “”Kirk, he had an open shot, but he turned around and gave it to me, and with four people around you, it’s kind of tough to get it off.””

    The Wildcats came out of halftime down 41-39, much-improved from their 42-22 intermission slump in LA. A Bayless trey at 16:34 capped an 8-2 run that was stifled by Arizona foul trouble.

    At the 8:16 mark, UA forwards Jordan Hill and Fendi Onobun – who got his first career start – were both on the bench with four fouls.

    The Bruins took advantage of their time at the line, sinking 18-of-26 shots. Love was 10-for-11 from the line en route to a 24-point, 15-rebound game.

    “”Kevin Love’s a big dude, man,”” said Onobun, who sent Love to the line three times. “”My defensive assignment was to play behind him in the post and work both sides. But I gotta stay out of foul trouble. I can’t help my team on the bench with foul trouble.””

    Hill was effective despite the foul trouble, as he scored 18 points and pulled down six boards in 33 minutes.

    Though UCLA committed two more fouls (20) than Arizona, the Wildcats didn’t do so hot at the line, sinking 14-of-20 free throws.

    “”We missed some key free throws down the stretch,”” O’Neill said.

    The intensity was evident early on as Budinger missed a shot then raced downcourt to deflect an outlet pass, forcing the ball to go out off a UCLA player. On the next play, Onobun dived for a stripped ball, recovering it.

    “”We had a lot of energy off each other and played hard the whole way,”” said Onobun, who stripped the ball from Love in UCLA’s first offensive possession of the game, though he wasn’t credited with either steal. “”At UCLA, I think we lost it mentally. They jumped out on a big lead when we were there and it was kind of a domino effect from there.””

    The Wildcats did anything but topple over this time around, as they came back from an 11-point first-half deficit, thanks in large part to Budinger, who scored 10 straight UA points over 2:45 to cut the Bruin lead to 39-34.

    A free throw and a jumper by Hill, along with two Budinger free throws, cut UCLA’s first-half lead to 41-39.

    “”That was energy,”” Bayless said. “”We rallied back but we didn’t finish the job.””

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