FINAL: UCLA 84, Arizona 73

McKale Center hosted a free-throw party in the final minutes, but UCLA held on at Arizona for a thrilling 84-73 win — easily the Bruins biggest of the season. The path to the Pac-12 title still requires an Oregon loss, but UCLA rebounded impressively from a humbling home loss to Oregon.

A telling quote from Travis Wear earlier this week: “We’ve done a good job going into games where we put a lot of pressure on ourselves — when we really know it’s going to be a big game. I think the last time we did that was Missouri. Going into that game, we viewed that as a ‘must-win’ and we did well.”

The Bruins led by as much as 14 seven minutes into the second half, but they’ve allowed teams to come back (see: Utah, Colorado). This time, in the face of the loudest crowd they’ve seen yet, they withstood a 10-0 run that cut the lead to 55-51 at 11:12.

Shabazz Muhammad, who scored a game-high 23 points, was responsible for a key five point swing with under six minutes to go, following up a 3-pointer with a steal and two free throws. That stretched the UCLA lead to 68-58. The Bruins then scored 10 of their final 14 points at the charity stripe to seal the game.

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  • samollie

    A legendary Bruin he is, but too much Walton can be, well, too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tes.ta.52 Tes Ta

    woohoo!!!!! go Bruins!!!!

  • SonOfWestwood

    Walton is the Loony Lou Holtz of NCAABB. Almost ruined this great game for me.

    • grateful_bruin

      Too bad for Walton that he announces games like he is blogging for bRUINsnation. It wasn’t until the second half that he started praising the team for playing great basketball. He should have recognized that the Bruins were gettting up and down the court so well because they played great on and off-ball defense. Great rebounding. Great rotations without blown assignments. And also great on-ball pressure lead to lots of steals. And the screens were hedged awesomely. It reminded me of Westbrook and Collison jumping the passing lanes and Lorenzo Mata hedging screens. Just awesome defense. This defense lead to all of the beautiful transition baskets UCLA won last night. Go Bruins! Keep up the good work, Coach!

  • Marc

    Walton was raising some very valid questions. The team won tonight, and I am thankful. I hope this team can do big things this postseason; we’ll see.

    But Walton is right. What gives with Ben Howland benching players who are hot? He is not very good with letting his players play. They won tonight, so everyone will gloss over that. Ben isn’t going to change. This team will have to win on their own with regards to who’s going to be out there.

    • grateful_bruin

      I thought he looked like an idiot for criticizing David Wear for calling a time out after hustling and diving for a loose ball.

      • Marc

        I believe he was saying that in relation to the fact that Ben Howland used a few timeouts already. At that point in the game, 16+ minutes left, UCLA was down to two timeouts the rest of the game.

        I personally believe there needs to be some balance between the praise and the criticism of Howland. I don’t like what the bruinsnation hacks do; constant bashing of the coach and anyone who is not as strident as them in their ideology. I’m also not a fan of the people who constantly cite the three straight final fours as proof he’s a great coach. I think Donny Daniels had something to do with those three straight trips to the final four.

        He is up for criticism because he isn’t perfect and this is UCLA. It is what it is.

        • grateful_bruin

          BW’s comments may or may not have some validity. I personally think BH put Shabazz on the bench to rest (he looked tired) at a point in the game when he could take him out to rest. As far as BW’s critiques go, BW would have been better served praising DW for playing the best game of his UCLA career. What a great hustle move! And all BW can say is “you wasted a timeout!” If everyone on UCLA played with the intensity that DW showed against Zona, UCLA would be undefeated. I hope that hustle is contagious.

      • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

        Bill specifically stated that he should not have called a timeout that early in the half, especially since Howland throws them away.

        (And wasn’t there only one timeout left with several minutes to go in the game?)

  • BRU-CREW_UCLA

    Be thankful we have a great BRUIN from days past who respects and loves his alma mater enough to grace us with his presence. Who knows how long we will have the like of Walton, WIlkes, Abdul-jabbar and a host of other aging UCLA basketball GODS. Let’s show the proper reverence to BRUIN ROYALTY.

    • samollie

      Which is why I lead off stating he is a legend, but there is a fine line between solid analysis and promoting an agenda. In the context of a national game and audience, I believe more balanced commentary is required.

      • http://twitter.com/have2comment x

        If ESPN didn’t want an agenda then they wouldn’t have asked an alum to call the game.

      • BRU-CREW_UCLA

        elaborate please. which cardinal rule did he break? U know Walton has been a unique guy since he stepped on the Wizard of WESTWOOD’s campus. Walton has his Walton-isms. Just love the man in-spite of himself. LoL!! GO BRUINS

        • samollie

          I should clarify, I’ve been a fan of Walton’s commentary in the past, but usually they were limited to sound bites or short interviews. It was just difficult to watch the game with his constant negativity. Most of us agree with the Howland criticisms, just sorta felt like we were airing our dirty laundry on national tv and damaging our brand.

          • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

            Desperate situations call for desperate action.

            Bill loves UCLA; I’m sure that, just as James Worthy and Kurt Rambis were calling the Lakers and their situation “dead” and a “debacle” after their last loss, so too Walton was offering criticism in hopes of spurring Howland to make the necessary adjustments.

            And anyway, unlike the Brownshirts at BN, Bill has a right to admonish the team.

      • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

        His cheerleading for the Bruins caught me off-guard for a moment, but it must be true that everyone who hires Bill knows what they’re getting.

        Besides that, he heaps praise on UCLA’s opponents, too. (Sometimes too much.)

  • miker%buffspec.com

    Great win. Very convincing. Team should begin to realize they’re capable of this. Great confidence builder. the ‘comments’? not so much. Walton is indeed a great Bruin but he often slides into self-parody. I tell myself I can see a smirk on his face as he knows he’s putting us on. But whatever, Bill should know substitution patterns are not carved in stone he having been removed (with his ‘hot hand’) more than once by the greatest basketball coach to ever stride the earth for failing in some tactical assignment. We likely will never know why Shabazz sat for a few minutes but surely Howland gets a share of the credit for this signature win. On to bigger and better things.
    MichaelRyerson

    • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

      Bill loves hyperbole. You can hear in his voice when he’s playing.

      (He’s right about the odd substitutions, though.)

  • grateful_bruin

    That was a great win. Howland coached the team brilliantly. Time to celebrate!