In the best win since the last game in Old Pauley Pavilion when UCLA beat Arizona in a hard fought game that proved the UCLA players had more desire to win than Arizona. It was a game that was symbolized by a great effort that gave UCLA its first PAC 12 Tournament title since 2008. Let me briefly highlight four players.
1. Travis Wear fouled out and did not have a good game on the stat sheet but his out racing of Aaron Gordon and diving for the ball while simultaneously calling time out (pictured above) was the symbol of the game. This UCLA Bruin team wanted the game more than Arizona.
UCLA wanted this one.
With less than three minutes left in regulation, shooting guard Jordan Adams tipped the ball away from Arizona's T.J. McConnell. As it bounced toward the opposite corner of the court, Travis Wear dived - somehow retaining possession.
It was a hustle play in a title game stuffed full of hustle plays. And at the final buzzer, it was second-seeded UCLA that squeezed out a madcap finish, winning the Pac-12 championship game, 75-71.
The first five points of the game for the Bruins were scored by Norman Powel who, along Kyle Anderson, propelled UCLA to a double digit lead early in the first half. Norman was everywhere on offense in the first half. In the second half his offense stopped, but he made the block of Nick Johnson's three-point attempt to tie the game and closed the game at the line.
UCLA forward David Wear made two free throws with 4.9 seconds left for a 73-68 lead. Johnson's 3-pointer with 1.0 second left cut the deficit to two before UCLA guard Norman Powell sealed the win with two from the line with 0.4 of a second left.
. . . Powell had 11 points in the first 10 minutes as the Bruins hit 12 of their first 18 shots from the field against an Arizona defense that allowed a combined 27.6 shooting in tournament victories over Utah and Colorado.
UCLA did not surrender the lead in the half, though, with Anderson matching Powell's 11 points before the break.
Next was, Jordan Adams was knocking balls out of hands and had a quiet 19 points except for his last three that won the game.
Back and forth they went, the conference's two best teams in all-out battle, bodies falling, sweat flying. This was Russian Roulette, with a Pac-12 title on the line. And with 45 seconds remaining and its season's biggest statement on the line for UCLA, Jordan Adams caught a pass from Kyle Anderson behind the arc and pulled the trigger.
Adams fell backwards, as the shot hung in the air and the Arizona-heavy crowd fell silent. It swished, and Adams sat up firing his fist into the air. The UCLA bench exploded out of its seats. And from there, its defense and its work at the foul line would do the rest, as UCLA sealed its first Pac-12 Tournament title since 2008 with a 75-71 victory.
Through a sea of decent wins and passable losses, this was the statement-making victory that UCLA had desperately searched for throughout Steve Alford's first season at the helm.
And it was on the shoulders of those who had carried them there in the first place. Anderson, the heart and soul of this UCLA team, scored 21 points and added 15 rebounds and five assists. And Adams, the other half of that important nucleus, finished with 19 points and the biggest shot of his life.
Kyle Anderson took over the game. Dominating the defensive boards with 15 rebounds and leading UCLA to a shocking rebound win over Arizona (38-37). Kyle looked to shoot first and went to the line 13 times and scored 21 points. He was player of the tournament.
Kyle Anderson led the Bruins throughout the game with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Adams added 19 points and Powell had 15. . . .
Throughout the second half, [Arizona's Nick] Johnson and Anderson showed why they were considered the two top players in the Pac-12 this season.
The 6-foot-9 Anderson repeatedly used his size to work inside, which got him to the foul line. He made five of six free throws during one stretch, the last two leaving the score tied, 68-68, with four minutes left. . . .
Powell had 11 of the Bruins' first 19 points. Anderson proved a difficult matchup, whether the Wildcats went with 6-8 Gordon or 6-3 Johnson. Adams, who had chewed up the Wildcats in last season's semifinals, was enjoying another offensive meal.
UCLA waited until the last game of the season to get a Saturday road win (the crowd was 90% Arizona, so I'll count it as a road game) but it was also the best win of the season. The Bruins wanted it and nothing was going to stop them.
There were a lot of other reasons but right now, happy for the Bruin players who earned this one. Jack Wang has an interview of each of the four players here.