The University of Arizona took care of UCLA, winning by six points, 58-52. This afternoon's game was low scoring, as the defenses limited offensive production throughout the first half. Although the Arizona men's basketball team left McKale Center smiling, UCLA controlled the tempo for the majority of the game. The slower pace is more favorable for Mick Cronin and his Bruins, but Arizona showed their ability to win games because of their defense. Here are three takeaways from the Wildcats' victory.
1. Courtney Ramey and his ability to impact winning
The senior guard was the most valuable player this weekend for the Wildcats, impacting the game on both sides of the ball. Ramey was challenged with limiting the production of Tyger Campbell. He saw similar results to his stellar performance on the defensive end against Boogie Ellis Thursday night. Ramey brought pressure and intensity. All afternoon, he picked up Campbell 94 feet, disrupting the flow and rhythm of one of the country’s best guards.
The UCLA senior witnessed a poor-shooting afternoon, only converting five of 17 field goal attempts in 37 minutes. On the offensive end, Ramey was hunting shots all afternoon. This weekend, he found the bottom of the net eight times from the perimeter.
“I got to give credit to my teammates; they kept telling me to shoot the ball,” Ramey said. “They kept giving me confidence. I had no choice but to shoot the ball.”
When head coach Tommy Lloyd needed a bucket down the stretch, Ramey answered the call. He finished with 11 points on 4/6 shooting.
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2. Arizona frontcourt won the battle of the bigs
From the tip-off, Lloyd emphasized establishing Oumar Ballo. The plan was to take advantage of UCLA freshman Adem Bona. Ballo took ten attempts from the line in the first half, converting on eight. The Bruins were plagued with foul trouble from their frontcourt. Bona was forced to the sideline early in the half as he picked up his second personal foul, forcing Kenneth Nwuba to enter the game. Unfortunately, the foul situation did not improve for Nwuba.
In ten minutes, Nwuba exited the half late with four personal fouls. Nwuba could not keep up with the pace and physicality of Ballo. The Arizona guards continued to hammer the ball inside as third-string center Mac Etienne was forced off the bench. Arizona was able to establish a three-point lead at the break because of the Bruin frontcourt foul trouble. Ultimately, taking advantage of the charity stripe was the difference maker. Combined, Ballo and Tubelis were 12/17 from the line and 30 points and 18 rebounds.
3. Team defense
Throughout the season, Lloyd mentioned the defense's need to tighten up. Today he got his wish as the Bruin trio of Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jaylen Clark and Campbell shot a combined 14/48.
Cronin might have the best offensive trio in the country and for the Wildcats to hold them to 29% is impressive. Not to mention, sharp-shooter David Singleton entered today shooting the ball at almost a 45% rate from the perimeter, and Kerr Kriisa held his own. Singleton had trouble getting open looks, only getting off five shots in 35 minutes. The Bruins could not buy a shot all afternoon. The Arizona defense was running Singleton and others off the line throughout the entire game. The Bruins will return to Westwood coming off a 31% field goal percentage. Arizona will take this weekend's momentum and face the Washington schools next week.
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