Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. UCLA

Arizona won a tight game on Thursday night over UCLA. Read on for more about the Wildcats' 79-75 victory over the Bruins, including the player of the game, the key moments, and more.

Arizona had to fight until the final seconds of the game, but matched the school's best record at 16-0 on Thursday night. The Wildcats beat the Bruins 79-75 and here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

Kaleb Tarczewski – The sophomore wasn't the highest scorer for Arizona, but he was a vital part of the Wildcats' win on Thursday. Tarczewski had a big first half and made a few clutch plays down the stretch, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds. He also had a block in 33 minutes of action.

Key Moments:

  • Down two late in the first half, Arizona hadn't scored in multiple possessions. UCLA led by two points, but that changed with one shot as Gabe York nailed a three-pointer to give Arizona a 32-31 lead. The Wildcats were able to ride the wave of momentum into halftime. York dished a pass to Aaron Gordon for a dunk and hit another three-ball with Nick Johnson hitting a three of his own to keep Arizona ahead 42-38 at halftime.

  • With just over 12 minutes remaining in the game, Arizona pulled ahead to what was its biggest lead of the night to that point. T.J. McConnell dribbled the ball towards the center of the court, while Brandon Ashley took a back-screen from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. McConnell found Ashley for what would have been an alley-oop, but Norman Powell fouled Ashley. The foul was Powell's fourth and the two free throws put Arizona up by ten.

  • Down the stretch, Arizona really had to keep it together. At the six-minute mark, Ashley picked up his fourth foul of the game, joining Gordon, who also had four. UCLA wasn't able to take advantage as Hollis-Jefferson cut through the lane for two points. The Bruins missed three of four free throws in a short stretch and the Wildcats were able to get wind the clock down.

  • Just as things looked comfortable for Arizona, UCLA made a run to get back in the game. Kyle Anderson hit a jumper off of a McConnell turnover and Bryce Alford hit a three off of a Johnson turnover. Alford and Anderson later added two free throws each and the lead dwindled to four at 68-64.

  • UCLA kept it going. Another free throw from Anderson, cut the lead to three and Jordan Adams hit a three-pointer in transition to tie the game with just over two minutes left in the game.

  • There was just 12 seconds left in the game when York stepped to the free throw line. The sophomore calmly hit two free throws and the Wildcats held on to win 79-75 after UCLA failed to score on the final possession of the game.

    Stats of the Night:

    42-22: Arizona outscored UCLA 42-22 in the paint, which was the Bruins lowest total of the season. Despite the dominating inside performance, the Wildcats won the rebounding battle by just a single board. Arizona's inside scoring was excellent throughout the game and led to the team shooting a tremendous 53.8-percent from the field for the game.

    General Thoughts: Arizona had the game in the bag with about six minutes to go. A missed shot and two turnovers let UCLA get some momentum and claw its way back into the game. At that point, all signs pointed to the Bruins winning, especially when they took the lead.

    However, Arizona was able to fight back and really kept it together down the stretch. It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Wildcats have now won multiple close games, which only helps ease the pressure late in the season.

    Until late in the game, Arizona did a wonderful job keeping UCLA from scoring. The burst towards the end of the game got the Bruins to 75 points, but for a while, it seemed like it would be a struggle for them to even get to 65.

    Arizona‘s defense is the main reason that it is the top-ranked team in the country and the Wildcats showed why tonight, as they held UCLA to just 40-percent shooting for the game, well below their season average.

    The final thought for the game is that Arizona has one of the premier back courts in the country. Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell really drive this team and both are just juniors.

    Imagine a senior duo of McConnell and Johnson next season with another year of chemistry under their belts.

    I know I gave the player of the game to Tarczewski, but Johnson or McConnell could easily have taken it. Johnson hit multiple big shots and finished with 22 points and four rebounds. McConnell was a little turnover prone at times, but still managed eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "This was a great victory for our team," Miller said. "Anytime you go on the road in the Pac-12, it's going to be tough. We battled through and were resilient and came out with a win."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "After three losses to UCLA last year, I definitely had a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "The unselfish nature of our team definitely starts with the point guard, who had seven assists tonight."


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