"We got up early in the second half and it opened up from there," said Chris Rodgers.
Andre Iguodala led the Wildcats with 18 points off the bench. He was one of five Wildcats in double figures.
"Andre had a great game off the bench," Lute Olson said. "It's not surprising. We've seen a lot of good things from him in practice."
Iguodala had one of the best offensive games of his young career, hitting both of his three-point attempts and all eight free throws. He added five rebounds and played smothering defense. The only negative for the freshman was a missed breakaway dunk that had the fans standing in anticipation.
"The confidence was there all week," Iguodala said. "I was shooting well all week in practice."
Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire each had 14 points, while Channing Frye and Rick Anderson added a dozen apiece.
It was a valiant effort. UCLA came out and executed very well. The Bruins got up and down the court and were able to get easy looks early on. The Bruins used their athletic young players to create mismatches whenever possible. In the early going the Bruins quicker frontline players were able to attack the basket, slipping by the Wildcat defenders for lay-ups and dunks.
The Cats finally put the pressure on the Bruins and capitalized on 15 second half turnovers. The Bruin defenders were a step slow getting around screens and the Wildcat guards made them pay. The Cats hit 7-12 three-pointers in the second half.
"In the second half it was the case of Salim and Jason going off with threes and Luke doing a good job of finding them off screens," Olson said.
For the first time in a long time the Wildcats seemed to ignore the pressure of being No. 1 and had fun. The Cats played relaxed and cheered on their teammates from the bench. When both Iguodala and Adams jumped for the same lob pass, which Adams stole and slammed home, the entire team laughed and giggled.
"This was one of the most fun games we had all year," Walton said.
The Wildcats took care of the ball, committing just nine turnovers. UCLA, which had just four at the half, finished the game with 19 turnovers.
The Wildcats had four players with six rebounds and limited the Bruins to just eight offensive rebounds. They outrebounded UCLA 41-33.
In the opening minutes it looked like the Wildcats would get off to the fast start that had been eluding them. With the fans behind them they started the game with a lob dunk to Channing Frye and a Salim Stoudamire three-pointer. It looked very easy as the Cats built a quick 5-0 lead.
But things would not continue to be so easy for the Wildcats. Three turnovers and a pair of missed free throws aided the Bruins in running off 10 straight points, many of them easy looks at the basket.
Arizona climbed back into the game and re-took the lead on a Luke Walton three. UCLA tied it on the next possession thanks to an Andre Patterson put-back before Arizona went on to score eight of the next 10 points and built up a 22-16 lead.
The Cats finally got the lead to double figures (45-34) as time expired to end the first half. The Cats closed the half on a 15-6 run. With time running down in the half, Andre Iguodala drove the lane and tried to score on a jump stop. His shot didn't go, but Channing Frye was there and his second attempt dropped through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Arizona opened the second half with a 16-0 run that sealed the game for them. UCLA had no answer for the Wildcat pressure, which gave the Wildcats four fast break baskets, two of which contributed to Stoudamire's seven points during the run.
The Bruins would not get a field goal until the 15:30 mark and would not get their second for over five more minutes.
"The second half we really did a great job of putting pressure on them and not letting them get into their offense," said Olson.
The Cats just toyed with the Bruins down the stretch. Both Jason Ranne and Fil Torres made it into the line-up with over 3:00 to play. They hit back-to-back baskets to put the Cats over the century mark.
"I kept hearing them say, ‘shoot, shoot'," Torres said of the McKale student section. "I just tried to ignore them and do my job."
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