TUCSON, ARIZ. –
Tyler Lamb was a step behind and Anthony Stover was a second late. The two UCLA sophomores simply looked lost.
In a Fogg, you could say.
Arizona’s Kyle Fogg drained a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left among mass UCLA confusion to give the Wildcats a six-point cushion, and they eventually closed out the Bruins with a 65-63 win at the McKale Center in front of 14,724.
UCLA guard Jerime Anderson – who matched Fogg’s game-high 20 points – had a chance to tie the game with a second left, but his jump shot clanked off the rim.
It was the Bruins’ fifth road loss by less than three points in 2012.
“This one is very tough,” a sullen Anderson said after the game. “I don’t know if this is the toughest loss we’ve taken all year…but it’s up there.”
Particularly after wrestling the lead away from Arizona midway through the second half and maintaining a slight advantage until roughly four minutes remained.
If not for Fogg, the Bruins might have been in the clear.
Playing to a packed house on Senior Night, the rivalry’s biggest recent barometer turned it on just as UCLA did.
Fogg – who has averaged 20 points in the Wildcats’ four wins over the Bruins since 2009 and just nine points in three losses – scored 11 of Arizona’s 15 points during UCLA’s second-half run, never letting the Wildcats fall behind by more than four.
His free throw with 4:06 left gave Arizona a 54-53 lead and the Wildcats never trailed again.
“As he goes, they go,” Anderson said. “He started getting it going in the second half, getting to the free-throw line, then he started to find some comfortability, hit some threes. He’s a good player, he’s always been a good player.”
Anderson knows well.
The two have squared off against each other since meeting randomly in a rec gym in eighth grade and they traded points on Saturday once more. With Fogg shutting down UCLA’s leading scorer Lazeric Jones – who had 20 points in a 66-57 win over Arizona State on Thursday but just two points on 1-of-12 shooting against the Wildcats – Anderson rose to the occasion.
Except on the hurried last possession, as UCLA had no timeouts following a Fogg free throw with seven seconds left. The Bruins ran a fake handoff, though Anderson said he “would’ve rather just come down and had an iso or maybe a flat screen, something up top.” Precious seconds dripped off the clock, and Anderson was forced to take an off-balance jumper with less than two seconds left.
“You always want to make the big shot, just help your team to a win,” Anderson said. “That’s the only thing that matters at the end of the day. I could care less if I scored 40 points as long as we get the ‘W.’”
Anderson had to take matters into his own hands as his teammates crumbled under the pressure.
Excluding Anderson, who made 9-of-16 shots, the Bruins shot just 16-of-45 and just 11-of-18 from the free-throw line. ”
Joshua Smith’s foul trouble did not help matters for UCLA (16-13, 9-7) as the hulking sophomore center was called for two quick fouls in the first half and then added a third before the break, eventually finishing with four fouls but nine points and five rebounds.
“He’s getting the same fouls over and over and they’re reaching fouls,” Howland said. “His first foul of the game was reaching in. He has to play to his size and we keep talking about it, hopefully he’ll eventually be able to do it because he was very effective for us and he only got to play 14 minutes.”
With Smith burdened by foul trouble, Howland still insisted on going into the post as David and Travis Wear combined for 21 points and 16 rebounds in 56 total minutes.
Eventually, though, when it mattered most, UCLA was unsure where to go.
Arizona had Fogg, the venerable leader who helped bridge the gap between the pre-Derrick Williams Wildcats and now the post-Williams Wildcats.
The Bruins had Anderson, who only demands the ball some of the time.
On Saturday, not enough.
“We’ve had trouble at the end of games and that’s the focus then,” Anderson said. “We never really made a point to point that guy out per se. That’s an important thing you do on a team.
“There should be that guy.”
Almost 30 games into the season, that player appears lost, though.
In a fog, you might say.