Die? Hardly! — Tournament MVP Kyle Anderson, with 21 Points, 15 Rebounds, and 5 Assists, leads UCLA to the 2014 Pac-12 Conference Championship, with Jordan Adams’ last-minute Three-pointer saying Happy Trails to Arizona
For the first time since 2008, the UCLA Bruins are the Official Pac-12 Champions. In Steve Alford’s first year as Coach, the Bruins outplayed the highly-ranked and FAVORED (by 5 points) Arizona Wildcats 75-71 to take the 2014 crown. UCLA overcame a horrendous shooting slump during the last 6 minutes of the game, missing about 12 out of 13 shots, but with just under a minute left, tied at 68, Alford called their money play, for a Jordan Adams 3-pointer, which Adams sank to put the Bruins ahead for good. Arizona airballed a baseline 3-pointer that could have tied the game, allowing UCLA to put the game away with 4 straight made Free Throws.
Sinking those 4 Free Throws highlighted the game’s biggest disparity. The Bruins finished at 21-25 from the Charity Stripe, while the Wildcats went 6-16, missing 8 of their last 9 attempts down the stretch. So while the Bruins went ice cold from the field, the Cats were just as bad from the line, and that’s what cost them the Championship.
Despite a Las Vegas crowd that was 90% Arizona fans, the Bruins raced out to an early 11-point lead, behind the efforts of Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson. Powell was driving, penetrating, and making shots, and Anderson was scoring and dominating the glass. Adams came on with some offensive punch, hitting midrange jumpers and getting free in the paint, while the Bruin Defense tried to make it tough for Arizona. The Bruins were up 31-20 about halfway through the First Half, but their reserves couldn’t maintain the momentum. Arizona finally started to roll. Bruin Reserve Center Tony Parker was strong inside and played well, but the UCLA running and scoring slowed down, and Arizona cut the lead to 3 at the Half, 43-40.
The Second Half was very evenly-fought, with multiple ties and lead changes, but Arizona never led by more than 2. The Bruins answered every Arizona surge, mainly because Anderson got so many Rebounds, and because he was able to get in good scoring position, hitting shots, feeding open men, and drawing fouls.
Playing their third game in three days wore down BOTH TEAMS significantly, evidenced by the poor shooting late in the game, but the Bruins’ HUSTLE put them over the top. With two and a half minutes to go in a tied game, Adams knocked a ball away from a Wildcat, then dived to keep it alive, and Travis Wear ran down the court, dived, collected the ball and called time out to give possession to UCLA. It was effort and heart like that which gave the Bruins the edge, and led to them being crowned CHAMPIONS. Effort, heart, TALENT, and the LEADERSHIP of Kyle Anderson, who refused to let the Bruins lose.