Both teams opted for an up and down style, and got good looks at the hole. Mustafa Shakur and Hassan Adams got inside the lane for easy layups, but UCLA countered with open looks on a regular basis on the other end. Its 71 percent shooting from the floor helped to open an eight-point advantage.
A Thompson jumper put a halt to an 8-0 run that got the UA briefly even. UCLA freshman point guard Jordan Farmar got into early foul trouble, and the Bruin offense wasn't nearly as fluid with him out of the lineup.
Channing Frye scored 13 of the UA's first 31 points, and gave Arizona a brief one-point lead, but Farmar, returning to action with 6:29 left in the half, drained a three to put UCLA on top again. A pair of Frye free throws got the UA even again, but Farmar answered with a turnaround over Salim Stoudamire.
Farmar drove past Stoudamire for a finish that gave the Bruins a 40-33 lead with four minutes left in the half. Stoudamire hit a three with 28 seconds left that trimmed the Bruin advantage to 40-38, but Josh Shipp hit a turnaround jumper that put the Bruins up four at the break.
UCLA shot 61 percent from the floor in the first half while Arizona went to the locker room shooting 39 percent.
Early on, Arizona looked set to change momentum, but six straight Bruin points gave UCLA a 48-40 lead with 17 minutes left. Kirk Walters scored his points of the year on offensive rebound, putback and foul shot that got the UA within three at 48-45. Walters hit the offensive glass on the ensuing possession and benefited from a goaltend bucket. Stoudamire converted a steal and pullup jumper that gave Arizona its second lead of the day.
Again it was short-lived. The Bruins rattled off the game's next seven points, but a Stoudamire fadeaway trimmed the lead to 56-53 with 12 minutes left. Arizona cut the lead to 58-57 off a spectacular save by Shakur to Frye, who found Stoudamire open on the secondary break for a deep three, and after a Stoudamire jumper gave the UA a lead at 59-58, both offenses went cold for the next few minutes.
Stoudamire buried two more jumpers on consecutive possessions, and his 23rd point of the day gave the UA its largest lead at 63-60 with 5:33 to go. Out of a timeout, Stoudamire went coast to coast and cut through four Bruin defenders for a kiss off the glass. The senior guard was responsible for 11 straight Wildcat points.
Adams snapped the Stoudamire streak, but increased Arizona's lead with a steal and layup over Thompson. He added the free throw, and the UA led by seven with four minutes left.
UCLA hit three straight free throws to cut the Wildcat lead to two with two minutes left, and it converted a pair of Thompson free throws. Stoudamire drew a foul with 1:28 left, and drained both free throws to give the UA a 70-68 lead. Radenovic cleaned the glass on a Farmar miss, and on the ensuing possession, Stoudamire drew another foul, and buried both free throws for the four-point lead with 50.3 seconds to go.
Adams elicited a steal that went to Shakur, and he converted one of two free throws. Thompson added a jumper that trimmed the margin to three with 32.8 seconds left.
That's when it got exciting. Arizona buckled under backcourt pressure and turned the ball over with 24 seconds left. Thompson pushed off on Radenovic to clear space, and took advantage of the move to bury the three from the baseline and tie the game. Arizona settled for the last possession, Stoudamire waved a clearout, and buried a long jumper with 2.5 seconds left. Adams made a steal, and it appeared Arizona had the game in tow, but UA bench players rushed the floor, and it led to a technical foul on Arizona. However, Farmar missed both free throws, Adams airballed the first, missed the second on purpose, and the UA survived with the 76-73 outcome.
Despite a fast start from the floor for UCLA, both teams finished shooting in the lower 40-percentile for the game.
Frye and Thompson were quiet in the second half, but both finished with double-doubles. Stoudamire scored 32, while Ivan Radenovic added 14 rebounds.
Arizona (14-3) travels to the Oregon schools this week.