The Los Angeles trip has traditionally been the most difficult of the Pac-12 road swings for the Arizona Wildcats. This time around, it was the stuff of nightmares.
Two nights after losing by 23 at USC, Arizona was crushed 90-69 at UCLA on Saturday for its first back-to-back losses of 20 or more points since 1983 … when Arizona finished 4-24 the year before Lute Olson arrived.
It was the second straight game for Arizona (14-7, 5-3 Pac-12) without center Chase Jeter, who sat out with a sore back that he injured early on Jan. 19 against Oregon State. His absence once again made the Wildcats incapable of defending the paint and equally bad producing in that area on the other end, or anywhere for that matter.
Arizona shot 33 percent overall and 31 from three-point range, this after shooting 27.8 and 20 percent, respectively, at USC.
UCLA (11-9, 4-3) came in riding a three-game skid but led for all but the first 2:18, going inside early and often against Arizona’s depleted frontcourt. Ryan Luther started at the 5 for the second game in a row, with Ira Lee getting his first career start, leaving 6-foot-5 Dylan Smith and 6-6 former walk-on Jake DesJardins as the bench options up front.
As a result, the Bruins shot 58 percent, with wing Kris Wilkes scoring a career-high 34 on 12-of-16 shooting, while freshman center Moses Brown had a double-double including 15 rebounds as UCLA dominated Arizona 47-30 on the glass.
Brandon Williams was Arizona’s the lone bright spot offensively. The freshman and Los Angeles native, playing in front of dozens of friends and family, had 19 points with four threes.
Lee was the only other Wildcat in double figures, scoring 11 with seven rebounds, while Brandon Randolph was 4 for 16 from the field (and 0 for 4 from three) and Justin Coleman only took three shots in going scoreless.
Arizona trailed 38-25 at the half and never got closer than that in the final 20 minutes, with UCLA recording three-point plays—a triple and two and-ones—on its first three possessions after halftime. The deficit swelled to as many as 26 midway through the second half .
The Wildcats started the game 4 for 18 from the field and missed its first seven three-point attempts, enabling UCLA to jump out to a 15-10 lead.
But the Bruins’ penchant for giving the ball away kept the Wildcats from being in a bigger hole, as UCLA turned it over six times in the first nine-plus minutes. It finished with 18 turnovers, but Arizona only converted those miscues into 14 points.
A Williams three with 10:15 left in the first half pulled the Wildcats within 18-14 but they couldn’t get any closer as their bevy of bad shots wouldn’t fall. UCLA had extended its lead to 38-22 before Williams hit a second three with 40 seconds left in the half.
Arizona is now 6-10 on the LA trip under Sean Miller, having been swept three times since 2013.
The combined losses by 44 points is the most during Miller’s 10 seasons in Tucson. The previous high, of 36, came in December 2009 when the Wildcats were Jimmered 99-69 by BYU and then lost 56-50 at USC to open Pac-12 play.
Arizona’s three-game road trip continues Thursday with a visit to Arizona State, where the Wildcats have won three straight.