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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Full Recap: Arizona advances to Pac-12 Tournament Championship game with 70-64 win over UCLA

Tyler Baker

Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (21) shoots over UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) during Arizona’s 70-64 win against UCLA in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 Tournament in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on Friday night.

After back-to-back seasons in which UCLA knocked Arizona out
of the Pac-12 Tournament, the No. 5 overall and top-seeded Wildcats finally got
their revenge against the Bruins. Arizona advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament
Championship game with its 70-64 victory over UCLA.

“Very proud of this group,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “Having
said that, we’ve been in a championship game four times in the last five years.
You don’t have to ask me how it feels because we haven’t won it. We know that.”

Arizona started the game on a 11-2 run before the team hit a
snag. UCLA took advantage and went on a 25-16 run to close out the first half
that ended with UCLA’s Bryce Alford hitting a 3-pointer just seconds before the
halftime buzzer.

The beginning of the second half was much of the same, as
both teams traded buckets and battled foul trouble. All eight Bruins who played
drew a foul, with four players recording three or more fouls. UCLA was called
for 23 fouls as a team.

UCLA guard Isaac Hamilton put up 36 points against USC on
Thursday, but struggling and eventually fouling out against Arizona. Hamilton finished
with six points, all of which came in the first half.

On the Arizona side, power forward Brandon Ashley lit up the
scoreboard en route to a career-high 24 points. Ashley went 9-11 from the
field, 6-7 from the free throw line and added seven rebounds.

“He was as big as it gets for us as a team,” Arizona forward
Stanley Johnson said. “When he can play like that us, we are going to be really

Johnson, who scored 15 points and hauled in nine rebounds,
later said Ashley’s effort helped the UA advance to the Pac-12 Tournament
Championship game yet again.

“Not only was he being active, but he was scoring and also
defending,” Johnson said. “When he can do that, it’s something really special
for us.”

Johnson’s late game heroics kept Arizona in the lead and
gave the team its 30th win of the season. The freshman from
Fullerton, Calif. scored seven points in the last 2:08 of the game, including a
crucial 3-pointer that put Arizona up 66-61 with 37 seconds remaining.

While Johnson may have closed it out, Arizona’s 15-0 run
about midway through the second half gave the team a chance. Before that run,
UCLA held a 47-40 lead and had all the momentum.

UCLA guard Norman Powell gave the Bruins that seven-point
lead with 12:07 left in the second half, prompting Miller to call a timeout.

Whatever he said to the Wildcats worked because Arizona
guard Elliott Pitts scored shortly after the timeout and kick-started the 15-0

Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell finished with 10 points,
11 assists, six rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes of action. McConnell
said getting over the hump against UCLA came down to heart.

“Losing to these guys the last two years has pretty much
left a bad taste in all of our mouths,” McConnell said. “We were down 47-40 and
we all just said ‘we have to dig deep for this one’. Whatever heart you have,
you have to give it. We went on a run and our fans were behind us.”

Looking forward, Arizona faces the winner of Friday’s Utah
and Oregon matchup in Saturday’s Pac-12 Tournament Championship at 8 p.m. The
game can be seen on ESPN.


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