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.
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."
"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."