LAS VEGAS -- I was at the last two Pac-12 Tournaments in the Staples Center. It was very hollow. It took no longer than the tip of UCLA and ASU to notice that the smaller, MGM arena was a major upgrade. Maybe it is better that Arizona Wildcats fans had a better showing than anyone else.
Also, it is Las Vegas.
ASU blows leads, Travis Wear gets buckets
In Thursday's opener, the ASU Sun Devils built a 53-38 against the UCLA Bruins with just less than 17 minutes to play, but the Bruins chipped away at their deficit to take a 67-66 lead on a Larry Drew II. Travis Wear ended up floating around in a mid-range area that suits him, and he hit two jumpers and hit two free throws down the stretch to give UCLA a 78-75 lead.
"Any time they had an open look down the homestretch, they made it," coach Herb Sendek said after ASU fell 80-75 in, uh, LAS VEGAS. "They didn't let us off the hook. There was no forgiveness on their part. They were making shots."
Jonathan Gilling had an open three-point look off a pass from Jahii Carson, who came racing up the court, but the shot to tie it with three seconds left clanked out.
"I just felt like he had the better opportunity than me," Carson said of making the pass. "(Gilling) catching it off the pass … rather than off the dribble, especially at how fast I was coming (made it a better opportunity)."
With 1.2 second left a very, very loud U-of-A chant range out during a timeout break, and soon after a scuffle arose. Carson, Carrick Felix, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson earned technical fouls. Four technical fouls were called that completely offset one another in this scuffle, which seems pointless. In short, it was about what you'd expect from a close game with the Sun Devils scratching for their postseason lives.
Also, I heard Sparky yelling a lot, which was weird. He also was stomping on the court a couple feet from Anderson on an inbound under the hoop -- it was also weird.
So anyway, UCLA won 80-75.
"I'm a little disappointed," Carson said, keeping his emotions unwavering. "I'm just happy to be able to get a chance to play with these guys."
Added Jordan Bachynski, who scored 22 points as the pick-and-roll worked in ASU's favor: "It just sucks."
Howland is hip and cool and 55 years old
Ben Howland when Bill Plaschke asked about UCLA's Zubaz-lookin' jerseys: "I'm 55, I'm hip, I'm cool."