– UCLA can be a much better rebounding team than it has been all season, though what it’ll take to keep that effort consistent is unclear.
Arizona entered the game averaging a +12.1 rebounding margin to UCLA’s +4.3, but it was the latter that held a 20-19 edge on the glass at halftime. The Bruins came out strong on the boards, visibly making the extra effort to box out or jump up and tip the ball to a teammate.
They were especially good on the offensive board, grabbing 16 for the game. The team ended up just one rebound shy of Arizona’s 37.
– Pauley Pavilion was louder than it had been in years, with an announced sellout crowd of 13,238. (There were some empty seats, but “sellout” almost never actually means a completely filled stadium.) People needed some time to actually get into the stadium, however; lines stretched around the block heading into the parking lot.
For any recruits present though, it was the type of game that would make them think UCLA’s reputation as a basketball school is still alive.
“This is the best atmosphere we’ve been in to date,” Alford said. “I really appreciate the fans. … There was volume, there was intensity. And it was good to see, I thought they got applauded at the end.
“We want to win them all. We’re not to that point yet. Hopefully we can get to that point. I think fans know this is an entertaining team.”
– Against good teams, the Bruins can’t afford off nights from Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson. The two sophomores combined to shoot 10-of-30 against the Wildcats, with Adams going 1-of-6 from downtown. The guard also missed half of his six free throws, contributing to a streak of five straight UCLA clanks with around seven minutes left.
Adams did chip in a career-high 12 rebounds, as well as three assists and three steals, but more than anyone on the team, he can erupt to pour in points.
However, the Bruins did score more than any other team has against Arizona this season. Michigan had 70 last month, but on 50 percent shooting. UCLA’s 40-percent performance from the field tied for its second-worst mark of the season.
It shot worse against Missouri (37.7 percent) and the same against Duke. In 12 wins this season, UCLA has not finished below 46 percent, and only twice shot below 49.2 percent.
– It’s a shame that UCLA and Arizona won’t meet again until (potentially) in the Pac-12 Tournament. The rivalry has been chock-full of great games over the last 20 years, and it’s generated memorable moments (“He touched the ball!”) even when the teams aren’t among the national contenders.
I still don’t think the Bruins are more than the third-best team in the conference right now, but a run to the league title game in Las Vegas wouldn’t surprise anyone.
– Tony Parker came through with the quote of the night. Asked if he was starstruck by the dozens of NBA luminaries in attendance — Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Mitch Kupchak, etc. — he said no. However …
“Now, if Halle Berry were in the stands, I might be starstruck.”