UCLA pulled out a big 66-64 victory against Arizona to advance to the Pac-12 title game, but the cost was a season-ending broken foot for Jordan Adams (story here). The freshman guard erupted for 18 second-half points, including 13 straight, as the Bruins beat the Wildcats for the third time this season.
Tomorrow’s 8 p.m. tipoff (ESPN) pits UCLA against Oregon — a tough matchup for the Bruins even with Adams.
More notes after the jump.
— Jordan Adams’ broken foot likely spells the end of UCLA’s hopes for the a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins have overcome obstacles this season, but the loss of its second-leading scorer is a gut-punch that they haven’t felt yet. Kyle Anderson and Larry Drew II both reacted with visible shock when they found out about the injury during the press conference, and Drew broke into tears soon after.
The loss will certainly hurt UCLA’s seeding for the NCAA tournament. More immediately, the Bruins will have trouble knocking off Oregon without Adams’ 15.3 points and 2.2 steals per game. Ducks coach Dana Altman didn’t make much of the news, but his team had caught the guard on a cold night in January. Adams missed all six of his field goal attempts in UCLA’s 76-67 loss in January.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Altman said when told of Adams’ injury. “They’re balanced. I don’t think you can say, ‘We’re going to stop this one guy.’ The Wear teams can both score. Shabazz can really score. Drew, from the first time we played him, he’s improved his scoring and he’s much more aggressive at the point position.
“I don’t think we can really change the way we play.”
Norman Powell, who lost his starting job to Adams early in the season, will be the first man up. Powell is the team’s most athletic player, but is inconsistent on offense and averages 5.8 points and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.
— UCLA’s offense struggled through the first half, stifled by Arizona’s plan to lock down Larry Drew II. Sean Miller expressed concern about both Drew’s scoring and playmaking — nine assists in both previous meetings — and decided to use all-conference defensive honorable mention Nick Johnson to stop him.
It worked. Drew couldn’t score the entire game, but of more concern was his single assist in the first half. The Bruins finished with eight, their second-lowest total of the season and only the fourth time they failed to log double-digit assists.
The flipside was that Adams went up against 6-foot-1 guard Mark Lyons, a matchup he took advantage of in the second half.
— Adams provided the final heroics for UCLA, but Shabazz Muhammad set that up with five straight unanswered points midway through the second half. He only had two points in the first half, but finished the game with 11.
— Travis and David Wear both had quiet but valuable performances. The twins combined for 17 points and nine rebounds. Travis grabbed a key rebound with a little over three minutes, keeping alive a possession that led to Shabazz Muhammad hitting free throws for a 60-58 lead. After Arizona equalized, Travis drew a foul against center Kaleb Tarczewski for two free throws of his own.
Tarczewski keyed Arizona’s 37-31 advantage on the boards with 13 rebounds and six points, and fouled out not long after.
— Arizona coach Sean Miller was irate at the officials after the game. UCLA had a 21-9 advantage at the free throw line, but it was a technical foul he incurred at 4:37 when arguing Mark Lyons’ turnover. The technical sent sent Jordan Adams to the line for two free throws that tied the game at 56.
Miller brought up the foul about a dozen times in the post-game press conference. Here’s a snippet of his rant:
The reason I got a technical foul is because I said, he touched the ball. He touched the ball. Like in other words, Mark Lyons dribbled — and by the way, when you show the replay here on ESPN in a few seconds — he touched the ball. He touched the ball. he touched the ball. He touched the ball. That’s a hard one now when you work August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and here we are. My man (Solomon Hill) is over here, he’s never coming back here again. His coach gets a technical foul. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t challenge him. … If I cuss and I’m out of control and I’ve been warned, shame on me.