UCLA came out on a mission tonight at Arizona and they completed it. Led by the hot hand of Shabazz Muhammad, the Bruins punched the Wildcats right in the mouth almost from the opening tip. #6 Arizona took possession of their only lead twenty two seconds into the game. Thirty seconds later Muhammed nailed a 3-pointer and the Bruins never looked back. The Bruins attacked the rim most of the game instead of settling for jumpers, which paid big dividends. Not doing so against Oregon cost them dearly. Hopefully that lesson is learned.
Shabazz Muhammad led all scorers with 23 points. His leadership and determination inspired his teammates. Travis Wear started 3-3 from the field, but left the game after getting hit in the head and displaying concussion like symptoms. Jordan Adams added 15 points and warrior-like play on both ends of the floor. David Wear hustled and scrapped and added 15 points as well. Kyle Anderson contributed 8 points and 12 rebounds, but also had 4 turnovers, including some pretty foolish plays. He needs to get a bit more serious with the ball. LDII had a tough night from the field, but was stellar dishing out assists. It can’t hurt that he has some very skilled offensive players to pass to, but so does Anderson and he doesn’t make anywhere near as sound decisions as Drew. Tony Parker saw more floor time tonight and did contribute effectively for the most part.
UCLA was 3-8 from three and 47.8% from the field as many of their points came from around the rim. Arizona was miserable from three going 5-24. The Wildcats shot 38.4% from the field overall and never seemed to find a rhythm except in small spurts fueled more by UCLA errors than their own hustle. UCLAs biggest lead was 16 points in the first half (21-5). Arizona closed within 5 before halftime, but went into the locker room down 10 (40-30) In the second half UCLA built their lead back up to 15 (49-34), only to see Arizona whittle it to 4 points at the 11:15 mark (55-51). However, Arizona never got closer as the Bruins scored timely baskets and hit some clutch free throws to keep the buffer around double digits.
This was a huge win for the Bruins in terms of their hopes of keeping pressure on the conference leading Ducks. Saturday’s game against less heralded Arizona State is vitally important in maintaining that pressure, separating the Bruins from the pack and locking in at least a 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tourney. Well played game by the Bruins. Coach Howland obviously had the team well prepared and managed the team effectively. On to Tempe.