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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball: Bruin bashed

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The UCLA Bruins hosted the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats in a battle for a share of the Pacific 10 Conference lead Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011, in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. The Bruins dominated the visiting Wildcats 71-59.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UCLA Bruins hosted the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats in a battle for a share of the Pacific 10 Conference lead Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011, in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. The Bruins dominated the visiting Wildcats 71-59.

Tying their largest loss of the season and ending the weekend with their lowest scoring game of the year, the Arizona Wildcats got blasted in the last game at the old Pauley Pavilion Saturday.

Falling 71-49 to the UCLA Bruins, it was the second game in a row where Arizona’s offense wasn’t there, in turn exposing the Wildcats’ poor defense that head coach Sean Miller said had been lacking even before the two games in Los Angeles.

It was that and a lost effort that now places Arizona (23-6, 12-4 Pacific 10 Conference) in a tie with UCLA (21-8, 12-4 Pac-10) for first place in the Pac-10.

“”Today, I thought we just played against an excellent team,”” Miller said. “”We didn’t play well. It’s the first time all season we lost two in a row … we have to respond to it.””

Simply, it all came down to UCLA’s interior scoring and Arizona’s lack of it. The Bruins had a 50-22 advantage in paint points, as UCLA’s front line of forward Reeves Nelson, forward Tyler Honeycutt and center Joshua Smith scored 33 of their team’s first 37 points to put the Bruins ahead of UA 37-28 with 3:31 to play in the first half.

And it was another rough outing for Arizona forward Derrick Williams. After struggling on 3-for-11 shooting and scoring eight points a game earlier, the sophomore hit eight-points by the 12:23 mark in the first half to give UA a 14-12 lead, seemingly the beginning of a big night.

Williams helped Arizona remain remain close throughout the first half, which included eight lead changes and six ties but finished with 15 points, scoring only two in the second half.

“”This wasn’t his night,”” Miller said. “”They’re (UCLA) very difficult, very physical on the other end.””

The Bruins went into the locker room with its biggest lead to that point, outscoring Arizona 40-30 at halftime. Nelson had already notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and he ending the game with 27 points and 16 rebounds thanks to an effect match to Arizona’s post traps on Smith.

Smith finished with 17 points himself while Honeycutt was third in UCLA scoring with 15.

Offensively, the deficit was a symptom of Arizona’s shooting only connecting on 39 percent of its shots. Meanwhile, the interior-focused Bruins shot at a 59 percent clip in the first half. Both teams dropped off in the second half, and the Wildcats ended the game shooting 32 percent to the Bruins 52 percent.

Honeycutt drilled a 3-pointer on UCLA’s first play of the second half and the Bruins scored 11 unanswered points to go ahead by 21 before UA guard Kyle Fogg put the Wildcats on the board with a 3-pointer with over four minutes into the period.

With Williams sitting on the bench, a 3-pointer by senior Jamelle Horne and a floater by freshman Jordin Mayes were part of Arizona’s 10-0 run which stopped the bleeding. Sitting on the pine for nearly seven minutes and not in foul trouble, William’s teammates found themselves own by only 11 with 11 minutes on the clock, a lucky development considering the beating they had been taking.

To match UCLA’s size, UA center Kyryl Natyazhko played well in place of and then with Williams. In the second half, he helped Arizona’s push back, altering shots from both drives and the Bruin’s big men.

“”We just gave him a chance,”” Miller said. “”He probably had his best game that he played at Arizona. I’m happy for him.””

But time ran out on Arizona, and it let the rally slip.

They broke the Bruin lead into single digits with less than five minutes to play, the score at 57-48 on a Williams lefty bank. It was his only two points of the second half, and UCLA put their foots to Arizona’s throats down the stretch to outscore UA 14-1 in the final 4:36.

Miller kept his team in the locker room for over 30 minutes before speaking to the media. The goal? Try to refocus his team with two home games remaining.

The mentality coming from Natyazhko out of the long locker room meeting wasn’t too complicated.

“”Just try to win as many games as possible,”” he said.

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