UCLA advances to Pac-12 title game with rout of Stanford

LAS VEGAS — Clear your schedules, everyone. The Pac-12 Tournament is going to end in style.

The two best teams in the conference will meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 3 p.m. Saturday, with top-seeded Arizona matching up against No. 2-seed UCLA.

Stingy defense versus prolific offense.

On Friday night, the Bruins romped to an 84-59 blowout of Stanford — shooting a season-high 65.2 percent in the most lopsided game in league tourney history. Two hours earlier, the Wildcats had shut down Colorado, 63-43, holding the Buffs to a season-worst 29.4 percent shooting performance.

They marked the sixth and seventh of 10 games at the Pac-12 Tournament decided by at least 11 points.

In their lone previous meeting this season, Arizona eked out a 79-75 win at Pauley Pavilion — one that featured a late 15-1 run by the Bruins. The prospect of a Las Vegas rematch has loomed for over two months.

“That was in the back of our minds since we lost to them at Pauley,” said forward Travis Wear.

After a hiccup at Washington State to end the regular season, UCLA (25-8) is again looking as explosive as ever.

It opened its semifinal game on a 14-2 run in less than four minutes, with seven points coming from Norman Powell. The junior guard had not scored in double figures in his last four outings, but he sliced through Stanford’s defense for layups or drawing contact for trips to the line. He finished with a game-high 22 points.

The Bruins only poured on from there, shooting a blistering 62.1 percent through the first 20 minutes and dishing out 11 assists against five turnovers. Travis Wear couldn’t miss, hitting his first seven shots for a game-high 12 points at the break. He added four more after the break.

In the first half alone, point guard Kyle Anderson notched 11 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block — relatively standard at this point for the Wooden and Bob Cousy Award finalist.

He had 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists at the final buzzer, thrilling fans with crisp passes and smooth jumpers as his UCLA career nears its end. Certainly NBA-bound after this season, the sophomore has been the lynchpin in one of college basketball’s most prolific offenses.

After a 21-point rout of Arizona State in Thursday night’s quarterfinals, Stanford needed over nine minutes to notch its third field goal against UCLA.

The Cardinal (21-12) only mustered five assists to five turnovers before halftime, and never got within single digits again after the first five minutes of the game. No player scored in double digits in the first half, and only two — Dwight Powell (16) and Chasson Randle (11) — had by the end of the second.

The early margin was even more gaping on the glass. UCLA held a 20-11 advantage on the boards at halftime, grabbing six of those on offense.

At that point, only four Stanford players had at least one rebound, and none with more than three.

The Cardinal’s MVP? Arguably the cheerleader who toughed out her routine despite a cumbersome knee brace.

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  • 92104bruinfan

    Can’t ask for a better title game matchup against top level competition before the NCAA tourney. Should be fun. Go Bruins!