HALFTIME: No. 18 Arizona 30, UCLA 26
The No. 18 Arizona men’s basketball team leads No. 21 UCLA 30-26 at halftime in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Freshman forward Brandon Ashley led the Wildcats with nine points as the No. 4 seed held a slight advantage over the conference champion Bruins for the majority of the first half.
In an arena normally home to boxing matches, the top ranked teams in the Pac-12 traded punches throughout the opening minutes of the games. It wasn’t until the 7:46 mark that a three-pointer by freshman Grant Jerrett gave Arizona the first two-possession lead of the evening.
The Wildcats pushed that advantage to 26-18, by far the biggest margin of the game, before a 6-0 UCLA run brought the game back into the balance.
Sophomore Nick Johnson added seven points, along with two assists, and freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski pulled down nine rebounds in 14 minutes of play. Arizona outrebounded the Bruins 21-16 in the half.
UCLA’s Travis Wear had a team-high eight points on 4-for-6 shooting. The rest of the Bruins weren’t quite as sharp, as they shot 34.4 percent in the half and missed all six shots from beyond the arc.
Arizona hit 42.3 percent from the field, while making 4-of-9 from deep. Both teams went 4-for-5 from the free throw line.
UCLA’s Larry Drew II had been the Wildcats’ kryptonite in the last two meetings between the sides. The senior was held scoreless in the first half tonight and had just one assist to one turnover. In fact, it was the Wildcats who were sharing the ball this time, with eight assists on 11 made baskets.
Of course, the UA also had eight turnovers.
The winner of the game will take on either Oregon or Utah in the Pac-12 final Sunday at 8:00 p.m. for a chance to earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.