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UCLA Narrowly Escapes With a Victory Over Arizona 87-84

The Bruins played a thrilling game at Pauley Pavilion on Russell Westbrook Night as they needed a Bryce Alford three-pointer with four seconds left to beat the Arizona Wildcats even though UCLA had a fourteen-point lead with just under five minutes to play.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA got off to a fast start against the Wildcats when Isaac Hamilton hit the game's first shot from three-point range one minute into the game. The Bruins didn't give up a lead to Arizona until there was about 3 minutes to go in the first half.

Hamilton added a jumper with 17:09 to go in the first half to give UCLA a quick 5-0 lead.

For most of the rest of the first half, UCLA simply kept pace with U of A allowing the Bruins to maintain the a small lead.

An Aaron Holiday three-pointer gave UCLA their second three and a six-point lead with 13:38 left in the first half. Holiday would finish the first half with 12 points.

After Holiday hit a free throw to give UCLA a 33-29 lead and 3:40 to go, the Wildcats went on a quick 5-0 run of their own with a pair of free throws from Kaleb Tarczewski and a three from Parker Jackson-Cartwright. That three-pointer gave Arizona their first lead of the night with 2:50 to go in the half.

But, then the Bruins finished the half strong with a 10-2 run to close it out before the break.

The Bruins' run four points from Tony Parker and two straight threes from Bryce Alford including a buzz-beater with three seconds left in the half. That gave UCLA a seven-point lead at the break.

The Bruins came out of the locker room on fire. In the first five and a half minutes of the second half, they double their lead to 14, thanks in large part to threes from both Bryce and Isaac Hamilton.

But, it was Prince Ali's jumper with 14:26 left that gave UCLA a fourteen-point lead 59-45.

The Bruins maintained a double-digit lead until Arizona's Gabe York's three-pointer made it 69-60 UCLA with 8:47 to go. But UCLA was able to stretch their lead back to 14 following a three from Aaron Holiday this time and it was 76-62 with 5:58 left.

Arizona wasn't done yet. The Wildcats went on a 21-7 run and were able to tie the game at 83 with 45 seconds left.

After both teams exchanged a set of free throws with each team making only one the game was tied again 84-84.

In a move that is getting to be almost predictable as Noel Mazzone's offense, Bryce played hero ball and put up his eleventh three-point shot of the night despite having missed another three with less than a minute to go.

This time, it went in and Alford's shot gave UCLA an 87-84 lead with four seconds left. It proved to be the game winner as Arizona was unable to get a shot of on the ensuing possession.

This is a game which should not have gotten this close. The Bruin defense which was solid for most of the game struggled late, giving up the late run to Arizona.

Compared to last season, where the team frequently collapsed late and lost, this year's team was able to hang on to get the win and they deserve credit for fighting it out and putting this game in the win column, even if it shouldn't have been that close.

Bryce Alford led all scorers with 25 points while Ryan Anderson led Arizona with 15. Tony Parker also recorded his eighth double-double this season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Go Bruins!