LAS VEGAS-- Deandre Ayton carried the Wildcats through overtime with a career high 32 points and 14 rebounds as Arizona men’s basketball outlasted UCLA Friday and advanced to the Pac-12 championship in the T-mobile arena.
Ayton scored seven of Arizona's 11 points in overtime, while the Wildcats defense shut UCLA out, keeping the Bruins from scoring at all.
Throughout the game, Ayton shot 13-for-16 and even stretched the floor with a three.
"Just physically, he's taking over the game," Allonzo Trier said. "Just throw it in to him, he's so big and takes up so much space that when he catches it, it frees us up."
After trailing by as much as seven in the first half and going into halftime down four, Arizona came out of the locker room with a 7-0 run. UCLA managed to stay in the game with a flurry of threes and held Arizona to 1-of-11 from the floor for a stretch late in regulation.
Then, with 15 seconds left in the second half and the Bruins down two, UCLA guard Jaylen Hands cut inside the paint and tied the game at 67-67. On the next possession the officials called Rawle Alkins for traveling with 1.9 left on the clock, giving UCLA a chance to win the game.
UCLA inbounded the ball from mid-court and Aaron Holiday rimmed out a game winning 3-pointer, sending it to overtime.
Holiday scored 15 points, but took 20 shots to get them. Perhaps more significantly, he shot 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
For the majority of the game, Arizona's point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright was the one tasked with guarding Holiday.
"We didn't want Aaron Holiday to do to us what he has done recently. It took a lot of effort, but Parker took the challenge," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "There aren't many guards that can play the minutes that Parker did and defend Holiday at the level that he defended him from start to finish."
On the offensive side of the ball, Jackson-Cartwright scored 11 points, shot 3-of-5 from deep and found his teammates for four assists while only turning the ball over once.
Jackson-Cartwright showed more emotion that usual during the game. At one point, after hitting a three, he clenched his fists and screamed at the crowd.
"Tonight was different for him," Dusan Ristic said. "I think he took it personal tonight.. He was one of the reasons why we won."
Another reason Arizona won had to do with rebounds. UCLA out rebounded Arizona 22-13 in the first half, and Arizona did not get a offensive rebound until the second half.
Arizona changed the story after halftime, and the Wildcats finished the game having outrebounded UCLA 42-32.
Miller said rebounding was the focus in the locker room during halftime.
"That's probably the only thing that we talked about, we had zero offensive rebounds. You can't do that," Miller said.
Overall, Arizona shot 44 percent form the floor and 29 percent from deep while UCLA shot 40 from the floor and 29 percent from deep.
With the win, Arizona will move on to play in the Pac-12 tournament championship game Saturday March 9 at 7:00 p.m. on FS1.
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