The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team traveled to Arizona and stunned the #6 Wildcats in front of a sold-out McKale Center in Tucson.
The Bruins owned 5 areas of the game that allowed them to dominate the Wildcats Thursday night. First, Turnovers were a deciding factor early, as UCLA were able to get some points off turnovers leading to an early 17-3 lead. UCLA was also able to keep their turnover numbers under control, allowing 11 and forcing 14.
Probably more important was the assist/turnover ratio between point guards. The second important stat, and probably the most surprising, was Arizona’s star senior guard Mark Lyons finishing with 0 assists, and 5 turnovers. Larry Drew II, the NCAA leader in assist/turnover ratio finished with 9 assists and only 2 turnovers. Needless to say, UCLA took much better care of the ball than Arizona did.
Speaking of assists, UCLA outnumbered Arizona 18-10. Bruins players were dishing dimes on fast breaks and in the half-court offense, getting easy, open shots while Arizona forced many of their shots off the dribble, with poor ball movement.
Another important stat was the Arizona Wildcats shooting percentage. UCLA smothered the Wildcats on defense, both out on the perimeter, and in the paint. Arizona managed to hit only 5 of their 24 3-point attempts, and the Bruin interior defense forced lots of misses right at the rim. UCLA is not known for their shot-blocking (1 block vs. Arizona), but their swarming to the ball made every attempt difficult, leading to 38% shooting for Arizona.
Lastly, an underrated figure in UCLA’s victory was the 10 minutes that freshman big man Tony Parker played. Thursday’s game was the first time since the Prairie View game (December 15th) that Parker has played double-digit minutes. Since starter David Wear was unable to play the 2nd half due to concussion-like symptoms, Parker was expected to step up and contribute, and that he did. The freshman hit 2/3 of his shots, grabbed 3 boards (2 offensive), and provided the Bruins with their lone blocked shot.
The Bruins dominated Arizona Thursday night in what was their first time beating a ranked Arizona team on the road since 2007. Last night’s victory was just an example of the potential this team has. If they can exhibit consistency and continue to improve, UCLA will continue to make their supporters very proud.