On a beautiful evening at a beautiful venue in Las Vegas, the match was set for No. 1 seed UCLA to face No. 4 Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. The MGM Grand, which has played host to the tourney, was choc-full of ‘Cats and Bruins alike, not to mention many others just hoping to see a thriller.
Unlike the teams’ two previous meetings, it was Arizona that jumped out to an early lead. The Wildcats were unbelievably balanced in their play style. One play they would drive in for an easy layup, and just as the defense got settled guarding the interior, Arizona would answer with a long-range jumper. Solomon Hill went 2-of-5 from downtown and Mark Lyons, along with Nick Johnson and Grant Jerrett, combined for five three-balls on nine attempts.
Approaching the 10-minute mark in the second half, Arizona led by 11 in what seemed to be a done deal. But despite being down for over 20 minutes, the Bruins, led by Jordan Adams, clawed their way back, tying the game with 4:17 to go. After regaining momentum, UCLA closed out the contest, winning by a final of 66-64 en route to the Pac-12 Tourney finals.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news that comes with the statement win as well.
Adams, the team’s second-leading scorer (15 points per game on 45 percent from the field), broke his foot on the final play of the game. The talented freshman, who scored 13 straight for the Bruins in the closing minutes and 24 in all, is out for good. He will not participate in the Pac-12 Championship Game, nor the NCAA Tournament. His buckets will be sorely missed, but it wasn’t just offense that Adams brought to the table. It was key defensive plays, one after the other. It was keeping his feet moving and keeping his hands active. It was the drive and desire to win.
Following the final horn, Adams limped off the court and into the locker room to receive X-rays. The tests came back with season-ending results, and heartbreaking news for a squad that should be celebrating. The Bruins’ postseason could look a lot different without the true freshman on the court, but stay tuned and keep cheering.
UCLA (25-8) will take on No. 3 seed Oregon tomorrow night in the finals, as the Ducks stomped out Utah’s Cinderella story in the Pac-12 nightcap. The Bruins played UO once this season, falling at Pauley Pavilion, 76-67. Tip for the title game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN, is scheduled for 8 PM PST.