Kyle Anderson had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Adams hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minute, and UCLA outlasted No. 4 Arizona 75-71 in a spirited Pac-12 championship game on Saturday.
The Pac-12’s two best teams during the regular season, UCLA (26-8) and Arizona (30-4) put on a show in the tournament final, trading big plays and floor burns. Offense ruled the first half and defense the second until Adams dropped in his contested 3-pointer to put the Bruins up 71-68 with 45 seconds left.
David Wear and Norman Powell combined to hit four free throws down the stretch, giving UCLA the Pac-12 title in its first year under coach Steve Alford. Adams finished with 19 points and Powell had 15 for the surging Bruins. Nick Johnson had 22 points and Kaleb Tarczewski added 12 for Arizona, which may have lost out on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with the loss.
After 10 games in three days, the Pac-12 tournament came down to UCLA and Arizona, the top two seeds, on a big roll since arriving in Sin City. Arizona, the conference’s regular-season champion, overwhelmed its first two opponents with its don’t-let-them-breathe defense.
The Wildcats raced into the tournament record books with their 32-point win over Utah in the quarterfinals and cranked up the highlight reel in the second half of its semifinal rout over Colorado, allowing 82 combined points in the two games.
UCLA swamped Oregon in its opener, turning what was supposed to be a track meet into a stomping. The Bruins did the same thing to Stanford in the semifinals, all but putting the game out of reach in the opening five minutes.
These teams met once during the regular season, Jan. 9 in Westwood. Arizona ended a three-game losing streak to the Bruins in that one, escaping with a 79-75 win despite 17 turnovers and blowing a 13-point lead in the final 6½ minutes. UCLA had the advantage early in the rematch by doing what two previous tournament opponents couldn’t: Score on the Wildcats. Getting shots seemingly wherever and whenever they wanted, the Bruins used a 12-0 run to go up 14-3 and kept pouring ‘em in against one of the nation’s best defenses.
UCLA hit 18 of 31 shots and scored 43 points in the first half — more than Utah did the entire game against Arizona and matching Colorado’s total.
The Wildcats kicked their offense into gear to get back in it, shaking off a string of questionable shots in the opening minutes with a bunch of 3-pointers, including three by Gabe York.
Arizona shot 16 of 30, including 5 of 8 from the arc, to close to 43-40 at the half. The game turned from an offensive show to a defensive shutdown in the second, every possession a struggle to get off a pass, much less a good shot.
UCLA went nearly six minutes without a field goal until Adams’ 3-pointer and Arizona went nearly five without one until Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
The Bruins got the victory despite shooting 7 of 27 in the second half.
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