UCLA’s NCAA Tournament hopes are ended, as the Refs award Arizona 36 trips to the line, from where they outscore the Bruins by 21, to pull off a 66-58 win despite shooting 35% from the floor
Once again, the Bruins got off to a horrible start, falling behind the Wildcats by 10, while racking up more Turnovers than made baskets for the bulk of the First Half. I said yesterday that they would not be able to overcome a start like that against Arizona, and for a moment, I was wrong. UCLA clamped down on Defense, holding Arizona without a Field Goal for over 8 minutes in the Second Half, and that darn Cat drought allowed the Bruins to actually take the lead with about 8 minutes to go in the game. But that’s when the Refs took over.
Don MacLean, who was announcing the game on TV, said he’s never seen Refs suddenly go overboard like that, calling fouls on every Arizona possession the rest of the way. The Cats just APPROACHED the Paint, and the whistles blew. It didn’t matter that the Bruins had good position, or blocked the ball without touching the man, or even when the Wildcat would Travel before any contact — The foul was still called. Arizona Center Jesse Perry — a 69% Free Throw shooter — made 12 of 13, and Solomon Hill made 12 of 14, and there was nothing the Bruins could do to overcome THAT.
Josh Smith fouled out, which is no big surprise, but Travis Wear fouled out too, and David Wear had 4, which hampered his ability to contribute. Despite the foul trouble, the Bruins played much better ball in the Second Half, committing only 2 Turnovers after committing 10 before the break, and shooting much, much better than they did in the Offensively dismal First Half. And they never quit, even when the outcome looked depressingly bleak. But down the stretch, they couldn’t get any good, open shots, and of course, they couldn’t defend against the Free Throws, and that’s what did them in.
The only good thing you can really say about this game was that at least it wasn’t u$c that knocked the Bruins out. Now it’s on to the NIT, maybe, and then on to the Recruiting Trail, where the Program might — or might not — get rejuvenated.