Postgame Analysis: UCLA

The Arizona Wildcats fell to the UCLA Bruins by eleven on Thursday night. The Bruins took advantage of an early lead to win the game. Read on to find out who the player of the game was, what plays were important, and more.

The Arizona Wildcats came out flat and eventually lost their first home game of the season against UCLA 84-73. Here's an analysis of what happened:

UCLA Player of the Game:

Shabazz Muhammad – Multiple players contributed for UCLA, but none was bigger than that of UCLA's star freshman. Muhammad finished with 23 points on the night and they all seemed to come at crucial moments as the Wildcats were trying to get back into the game. The freshman made eight of sixteen shots and two of three from long distance. Muhammad also played calm and collected in front of a sold-out McKale Center crowd, having only one turnover.

Arizona Player of the Game:

Nick Johnson – The Wildcats had a poor offensive showing throughout the night, but the play of Nick Johnson kept Arizona in the game to the very end. The sophomore struggled, connecting on only one of five three-point shots, but still managed 23 points for the game. In addition, Johnson was often a crowd igniter, trying to push his team forward.

Key Moments:

  • In the first eight minutes of the game, Arizona managed to score just five points. Brandon Ashley hit a free throw while Mark Lyons and Grant Jerrett contributed a layup each. UCLA used the first few minutes of the game to heat up and take a 21-5 lead.

  • With just over two minutes left in the first half, Jerrett hit a three from the corner to pull Arizona within five of the Bruins. Larry Drew II responded with a jumper and Kyle Anderson had a three-point play to give UCLA a ten point halftime lead.

  • Down fourteen at the 13:02 mark, Arizona used a 10-0 run to cut the lead to four. The run was capped by a Johnson dunk on a break away. UCLA answered with five straight of its own points and pushed the lead back to nine.

  • The final breaking point for the Wildcats came with just under six minutes left in regulation. Kevin Parrom had cut the lead to just five with a free throw and his team was pressuring down the court. Drew got free of his defender and made a cut down the lane with the ball. Solomon Hill helped out and left Muhammad wide open for a three-pointer. UCLA extended the lead to ten and the Wildcats never got closer than six for the remainder of the game.

    General Thoughts:

    One of the biggest takeaways from the game is that Arizona is still struggling to start games strong. The Wildcats' offense couldn't get anything going in the first few minutes of the game, letting the Bruins grab an early sixteen-point lead. It struggled throughout the night as Arizona only managed to hit 38-percent of its shots. The slow start is a contribution to the outcome of the game.

    While the Wildcats did fight back, they seemed to lose composure when the game was within reach. Multiple times throughout the night they cut the lead to just two possessions, but took a bad shot or turned the ball over, allowing the Bruins to pad the lead again.

    Many will think that Arizona could be overrated with a loss like this, but the fact is that the Wildcats just played a poor game. When Mark Lyons has five turnovers and zero assists, it may not matter how many points he has. If Arizona shoots under forty percent for the game and the opponent hits almost half of its shots, it's hard to win.

    The Wildcats played poorly throughout the night and still managed to be in the game towards the end. Arizona is due for a few off nights in the grand scheme of things and it is good enough to win some of those games. However, this game was lost because Arizona had a bad night and UCLA had a great night.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "One guy on their team that I think was the difference maker was Larry Drew," Miller said. "He ran their team. We had no answer to his nine assists. I would say he had nine assists, but he probably had three or four other passes that led to fouls. Those don't count as assists, but he dominated the game."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "We're still competing," Hill said. "It's a hard loss in front of a big home crowd but people have to remember that we're 16-2. We still have lots of basketball left. We have to get back to work and USC is coming for us next."

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