The UCLA basketball team finish with a boost from Aaron Holiday who dropped in 34 points and led the Bruins to an 88-77 victory which moves them into the semifinals against Arizona.
The UCLA basketball team likes to step up for the big games and even though this was not a Top 25 match up, tournament time always brings out the best in teams. The Bruins were no different as they started hot and finished hot in their win over the Stanford Cardinal.
This victory sent them to the next round where they will face 1 Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins and Wildcats only met once the season and it was a shocker the desert as UCLA pulled off the upset over then-#13 Arizona, but we will get more into that in a little while.
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Let us first talk about Aaron Holiday, who many believe, even those outside of the UCLA fanbase, are calling the real Pac-12 Player of the Year. Holiday once again put the team on his back and lead a late push to against Stanford which kept them at a safe distance. Holiday scored 34 points (the fourth time he has had 30 or more points in a game), with 10 of those coming in the last ten minutes of the game.
Holiday had scored 17 points in the first half which actually kept UCLA in the game. The Bruins had a 13-point lead midway through he first half, and fortunately like they often do, UCLA allowed their Stanford to get back in the game. The Cardinal had tied the game shortly before halftime, but UCLA took a small lead going into the break, 44-40.
Defense improved in the second half as UCLA held Stanford to 40.0% shooting. It was a bit of a sloppy game, and some might blame the referees, but for the most part the Bruins held their own and managed to make a run behind Holiday’s maximum effort.
And now we look ahead to the semifinals between UCLA and Arizona which, and this is not to demean the work of USC or Utah, is the game that should decide the Pac-12 Championship. With the drama that both teams have been going through this season, both have a lot to prove.
Arizona seems to have secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but they want more. And with UCLA’s impressive win over Stanford, they might have gotten their place, but it still would be nice to beat Arizona, get to the championship game, and play for some hardware. But one game at a time. UCLA in Arizona, it’s going down!