After falling behind big early, Arizona
could never quite recover as the Wildcats fell at home to UCLA
84-73 on Thursday night. It was the second loss in Pac-12 play for UA, who seemed outmatched from the early minutes of the contest.
The Wildcats attempted to battle back in the second half and were able to cut what was once a double-digit lead down to as little as four. UCLA didn't flinch and ultimately pulled away down the stretch, thanks to efficient shooting and a strong effort on the defensive end of the floor.
Arizona's offense was stymied for much of the 40 minutes of action. The Wildcats shot just 38.4 percent from the floor, including a sub-par 20.8 percent from long range. No player on the Arizona roster connected on more than 50 percent of their shots and no one could get in a groove from anywhere on the floor. The Bruins played tight defense and it paid off.
UCLA was smart on the offensive end of the floor, which led to 47.8 percent shooting. The Bruins dished out 18 assists as a team on their 32 made field goals while turning the ball over just 11 times. Their offense ran smoothly, while the Wildcats seemed to have trouble defending them through long stretches of the ballgame.
Nick Johnson had a strong night for the Cats, scoring 23 points on for 8-for-16 shooting. Johnson kept pace with UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, who also scored 23. Johnson did more than just score, however, as he added five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Unfortunately for Johnson, the rest of the team fell a tad short on the offensive end of the floor.
UCLA's bench production was a big reason for the Bruins' victory. Led by David Wear, the UCLA bench outscored Arizona's 25-12, which more than covered the point differential between the two squads. The Wildcats' bench combined to shoot just 4-for-17 from the floor.
Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill both scored in double figures, but the pair also combined for nine turnovers and shot just 41.3 percent from the floor between them. While their scoring output was certainly beneficial, the team's two most experienced players must avoid turning the ball over that often in crucial matchups.
Arizona didn't do the best job of taking care of possession. UA accumulated just 10 assists as a team while turning the ball over 15 times. The lack of fluid and effective ball movement prevented the Wildcats from developing any continuity on the offensive end of the floor and it cost them in the long run.
UCLA was not perfect. It missed 12 free throws and gave up 18 rebounds on the offensive end to the Wildcats. That was all rendered meaningless with UA's rough offensive effort as the Wildcats could not take advantage of opportunities that the Bruins handed them.
UCLA was able to control Thursday's game en route to defeating Arizona. Read on for numerous notes and news on how the Bruins got it done.
Notebook: Arizona vs. UCLA