LAS VEGAS, NV – Completing their revenge tour, No. 8 Arizona Basketball (28-6, 14-5) knocked off No. 2 UCLA (29-5, 18-2) in a thrilling, 61-59 win to be crowned Pac-12 Tournament Champs!
Closing out the Pac-12 Conference Tournament against rival No. 2 UCLA, No. 8 Arizona Basketball took to the hardwood to take on a talented, but short-handed Bruins team.
Looking to avenge its previous loss to the Bruins, it was a battle all game long between the top two teams in the conference, especially as this one came down to the wire!
It may not have been the prettiest performance offensively for Arizona, but luckily it was just enough as the Wildcats scored 61 points on 19-52 shooting (36.5 percent) including 6-20 from three (30.0 percent), to come away with the narrow, 61-59 win.
The Wildcats were led offensively by Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, who scored 19 and 13 points respectively. Meanwhile, Pelle Larsson had another big game, adding with 11 points off the bench, as he helped to fuel the Wildcats in this one!
Even though UCLA controlled much of the second half, No. 8 Arizona Basketball was able to make enough plays in the end, coming away with a huge win!
Despite Arizona having a slight advantage (personnel-wise) from the start, this one looked like a prized title fight like we thought we would get!
Perhaps feeling the effects of playing its third game in as many days, Arizona and UCLA would start a bit sluggish in this one, but nonetheless, both teams would seemingly trade buckets for the early part of the first half.
Trailing 21-20 with 6:39 to play in the first half, Arizona would finally start to find its offensive rhythm, using a 7-1 run to pull ahead 27-22 just moments later.
But unfortunately for Arizona, as the Wildcats got into foul trouble, UCLA would close out the half by outscoring the Wildcats 12-6 over the final 5:11 of play to enter halftime with a 34-33 lead.
Looking to regain its momentum in the second half, unfortunately, UCLA would continue to hang tough in this one, using its talent and skill to expand its lead to 46-37 as the Bruins opened the half on a 12-4 run.
Luckily, Arizona wouldn’t be down for long as the Wildcats finally responded, using a 13-2 run to pull ahead 50-48 with 9:00 to play in this one.
And as the fouls began to pile up for UCLA, Arizona was able to take advantage, using the foul trouble to its advantage as they continued to attack the Bruins at will.
Granted UCLA would not go away, seemingly hitting big shot after big shot, but perhaps none were bigger than Courtney Ramey who got his first points of the game at the 0:18 mark as he hit a clutch three to give Arizona the lead for good at 60-58.
Unfortunately, UCLA’s Tyger Campbell would be fouled on the ensuing possession where the conference’s leading free-throw shooter connected on just one of two attempts, allowing Arizona to ice the game.
But a missed free throw by Tubelis gave UCLA one last opportunity to win the game as the Bruins ran the court for one last three-point attempt.
Luckily, the Wildcats didn’t have to relive ASU 2.0 as the UCLA three-pointer was off the mark, giving Arizona the 61-59 Conference Tournament Championship win, making the Wildcats back-to-back Pac-12 Tournament Champions!
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 28-6 (14-6) on the season and will resume basketball action next week when they begin the NCAA Tournament. However, it is not yet determined who the Cats will face just yet, but expect Arizona to likely earn a No. 2 seed!