The UCLA Bruins were up 11 with just over five minutes left, and it looked like they had salted the game away.
But in true Arizona Wildcats fashion, the game got close, and was a one possession game in the final seconds.
On senior day, the team’s only senior, Kadeem Allen, went up for a three to tie the game.
But the ball sailed long, and Arizona suffered just its second home loss in the past 72 contests at McKale Center, losing by a score of 77-72.
Arizona was essentially a one-man show in this one, and that one man was Allonzo Trier.
Trier scored 28 of the Wildcats’ points (a new career high), making 11 of his 14 shot attempts. The rest of the team was a combined 15-of-39 from the field.
It wasn’t just the fact that he made shots; it was the way he was making them. Several times he drove past the entire UCLA team, finishing with an acrobatic kiss off the glass. There was the big three with just over a minute left to draw Arizona within five.
He was also the among the team’s best rebounders, hauling in five boards, tied for the team lead. Oh, and he was drawing crucial offensive fouls.
Trier did it all, but he didn’t have enough help around him for the Cats to get the job done.
So after Thursday’s game, Sean Miller said he was looking forward to teams playing more zone against Arizona.
The Wildcat players might think differently.
When UCLA was able to deploy the active 3-2 zone, Arizona struggled to get the ball moving towards the basket. Then when you throw in the Cats shot 5-20 from three, that results in no points on the board.
There are plenty of stats that explain this game away, but offensive rebounds and second chance points are up there among the biggest reasons things went the way they did.
UCLA ended up with 13 offensive rebounds, and converted 19 second chance points on those opportunities.
Ok, the refs were not good in this one, but it was both ways. Several key players ended up in foul trouble early on like Kadeem Allen picking up three in the first half. Lonzo Ball missed the last part of the first half after he picked up his second, which allowed Arizona to end up with a four-point halftime lead.
Ball then picked up his third on an offensive foul drawn by Trier, and probably should have picked up his fourth less than a minute later, but the call went against Parker Jackson-Cartwright instead.
These are two teams that play better with less contact, especially UCLA, and the refs did not let that kind of game happen.
Kickin it with Keanu
After not playing at all against USC, Keanu Pinder was used in crucial spots in this one, and came up with some enormous plays on defense. He even had a fallaway jumper from the middle of the key.
9th man of the year? Yes.
Arizona now has a week to prepare for the Arizona State Sun Devils. They will meet in Tempe next Saturday at 2 PM MT. That game will be broadcast on CBS.