There are a bunch of upperclassmen that owe Jordan Adams a dinner tonight in Las Vegas.
For the second night in a row, a lackluster, lazy, disinterested Bruin squad sleepwalked through a half of basketball, getting beaten every way it's possible to be beaten except in the turnover department. Those turnovers helped keep UCLA's hopes alive throughout the game. Though Arizona was thoroughly outplaying the Bruins, scoring at will in the paint, when it came time to lock in the result and put UCLA to bed, the
HouseWildcats responded with a timely turnover or a blown layup. And as Bruin fans know all too well by now, when you don't put a team away when you have the chance, you often end up paying for it.
Boy did the
HouseWildcats pay. "Coach" Sean Miller might not have reason to fear most of our lineup, but he knew about Jordan Adams, and after proclaiming that his omission from the postseason conference teams was a snub, Adams proved him exactly right. The last ten minutes of that game can only be described as a transcendent performance by a special talent. He was relentless in hunting down the ball and scoring every time Arizona tried to extend their lead, and what was once an 11 point Wildcat lead became a deficit. Jordan's quick hands also proved disruptive on defense, with two key steals, including a spectacular one right under the UA basket for a layup that illustrated his mastery of all parts of the game.
He had help as well. Shabazz Muhammad, in the midst of a quiet offensive game, also turned up his intensity on the boards, at one point going up against four Wildcats to keep the ball alive and possession for the Bruins. His layup And-1 sparked the rally from 11 down.
Kyle Anderson's impact was felt on the defensive end, recording five steals, which was notable given how porous and soft our interior defense was once again. Kyle made throwing passes inside a little more difficult, and in such a close game, those kinds of plays are the difference between winning and losing.
Getting back to the big picture, the prospects for a seed out in the West improve with this win. Some of it will depend on how the high seeds in the other conferences shake out if we don't win in the championship game, but given Howland's history, we know that one of the keys to a deep run is proximity to home. So the good news for Howland is that the tightrope he's walking to save his job with a Final Four berth just got a little wider. And the good news for the fanbase is that should he fail to get there, we've got a hell of a player for his replacement to build around in Jordan Freaking Adams.
Upperclassmen? TGCIC? Buy these kids dinner. They saved your bacon tonight.
UPDATE: Jordan Adams appears to have broken his foot, which will end his season. I'd rather we lost this game and had a healthy Adams for the tournament. And now I remember why I hate conference tournaments. Tough break, Jordan. Bruin Nation is pulling for you.