Fraud De-clawed — #11 Wildcats roar back from 14 down in second half, repeatedly getting to the hoop, but can’t sink the lay-ups, and can’t string together enough stops, suffering a road sweep by sc and UCLA, and a season sweep by the Bruins, who close out New Pauley’s inaugural season with a huge 74-69 Senior Day victory over over-rated Arizona that puts UCLA in a tie for First Place in the Pac-12
Own-ahs of Arizona.
UCLA is back on top of the Conference, after completing a sweep of the Nationally-ranked Arizona Wildcats, 74-69. It was Senior Day in New Pauley Pavilion, marking the Bruins’ final home game of the year, and the one Senior on the team — Larry Drew II — was absolutely instrumental in the victory. Drew ran the Offense to near-perfection for about 30 minutes before finally tiring. He had 9 Assists to only 1 Turnover before committing 3 more Turnovers later, 2 near the end when he had apparently run out of gas. He played 38 of a possible 40, and not only did he Quarterback the attack, he also burned the sagging Zona Defense, hitting 2 Three’s and scoring a total of 14 Points. No Wildcat scored more than the Bruins’ “pass-first” Point Guard. He also had a big Steal that slowed the Wildcats’ late momentum.
Drew and the Bruins maintained a small lead for most of the first half, sparked by 15 Points by Kyle Anderson, in his best half of Basketball of his young career. He was all over the court, always in the right place at the right time, and Arizona couldn’t stop him from getting to the bucket. Almost all his points were from the Paint. The Cats adjusted in the second half, as Anderson added only 2 more points to his total, but it was a huge bucket, on a crucial putback.
The Bruins were led once again by Shabazz Muhammad, who scored 18. He got 5 early points to get the Bruins rolling, and he got the game-clinching points, on two Free Throws, after getting a game-saving Defensive Rebound with 9 seconds left in the game, with the Bruins up by only 3 at the time.
The Bruins took a 40-36 lead into Halftime, and early in the second half, went on a 12-0 spurt to take a 14-point lead. But the Cats have been obliterating late deficits all season long, and this afternoon was no different. They found multiple ways to get to the basket, and they would have probably won this game if they hadn’t missed SO MANY uncontested gimmes, including a blown dunk. But they hit a few late three-pointers to whittle the lead down, and those late Drew Turnovers allowed them to cut it to 3. But on the do-or-die possession in the final seconds when Arizona had a chance to tie, Mark Lyons drove to the hoop under duress, forced up a shot that rimmed out, and Shabazz corralled the Rebound — and sank the free throws — to sink the Cats. Arizona will still make the NCAA Tourney, of course, but they now have no chance of winning the Regular Season Conference Championship, and their National Ranking and their eventual Tournament SEEDING just took a major hit.
While Drew, Anderson, and Muhammad were the team leaders, the Bruins also got contributions from several other players: Jordan Adams scored only 6 points, but he had 5 Steals, and took Cat Star Solomon Hill out of the game with stellar Defense. Norman Powell had a monster dunk, posterizing Jordin Mayes and making all the National highlight reels, and the Wears both played an important role in the win. Travis was back in the Starting Line-up and scored 6 points, including 2 on a lob from his brother David, and David himself scored 10 points and grabbed 9 Rebounds off the bench. Tony Parker played only one minute, but he averaged the impressive “point-a-minute.”
UCLA is now on a nice 4-game roll, after a dramatic Overtime revenge win on Wednesday against Arizona State, who killed the Bruins earlier this season. ASU found out that the Bruins have improved markedly as the Season has worn on, with the key three Freshmen now all playing like Sophomores. Now if the Bruins can sweep the Washington schools on the road next week, they will at least share the Pac-12 Title. UCLA may just be peaking at the right time, with the post-season now just around the corner.
Speaking of peaking, here’s a 25-shot peek at the Bruins Spirit Squad, who ALWAYS seems to be in peak form.