Arizona 57, UCLA 47: Norman Powell talks loss to Wildcats

After UCLA’s 57-47 loss at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday, the Bruins can no longer get to 20 regular-season wins — a mark that would have likely secured them a spot in March Madness. Asked about his team’s postseason chances, senior guard Norman Powell remained optimistic.

“It’s fuel to our fire,” he said. “Holding serve at home, and making a run in the (Pac-12) Tournament — that’s what’s going to lock us up getting back into the NCAA Tournament.”

Asked if that meant securing the conference’s automatic bid, Powell said: “Right now, we’re just focused on these three games.”

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Arizona 57, UCLA 47: Point guard Bryce Alford talks loss to Wildcats

UCLA lost at No. 7 Arizona, 57-47, but displayed some of the best defense it had all season. The Bruins held the Wildcats scoreless for more than six minutes at the start of each half, going out on 7-0 and 17-0 runs.

What was the difference?

“I think it’s just effort,” said point guard Bryce Alford. “Just playing balls to the wall the whole time. ASU, we kind of lacked in that area. Can’t really tell you why. I don’t really know. That’s inexcusable.

“Tonight, I thought we played as hard as we could. Each man, from top to bottom, I thought we played extremely hard.”

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At a glance: UCLA at No. 7 Arizona

UCLA (16-11, 8-6) at No. 7 Arizona (23-3, 11-2)
Saturday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: Like it did a year ago, Arizona looks like the Pac-12’s best chance at the Final Four. The difference is that this edition of the Wildcats is even more balanced than the one that fell to Wisconsin in overtime of the Elite Eight — one that, along the way, went undefeated at home and spent eight straight weeks at No. 1.

After losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA draft, UofA reloaded with five-star wing Stanley Johnson. The Mater Dei product has lived up to every bit of the hype, leading the team in scoring (14.5) and rebounds (6.7) and ranking second in assists (1.96) and steals (1.5). He also shoots an absurd 50.5 percent on 2-point jumpers, making 55 of 109; none of the Bruins’ starters hit more than 38.5 percent. The likely top-10 pick will be a nightmare matchup for UCLA, and is also the only person keeping UCLA’s Kevon Looney from winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

The Wildcats are flat out more talented than the Bruins. They have a veteran point guard in T.J. McConnell, a forward who can stretch the floor in Brandon Ashley, an athletic defender in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and a 7-foot center in Kaleb Tarczewski. Continue reading

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UCLA jumps seven spots to No. 18 in Associated Press poll

Quarterback Brett Hundley celebrates UCLA's 17-7 win over Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Rose Bowl. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Quarterback Brett Hundley celebrates UCLA’s 17-7 win over Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Rose Bowl. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

All the hype surrounding UCLA football dissipated a month ago, but the Bruins are quietly making sure they stay on the national consciousness.

The Bruins moved up seven spots to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll after holding offoff Arizona in 17-7 win — one that never felt in danger in the final minutes due to a strong defensive performance. It was their largest jump in the poll this season, as well as the largest of any team this week.

UCLA still has little room for error in a tight Pac-12 South race. Even if the Bruins win out against Washington, USC and Stanford, it needs one-loss Arizona State to drop one more game. The Sun Devils remaining conference schedule consists of Oregon State and Washington State — two of the Pac-12’s worst teams — as well as their rival Wildcats.

See the full AP poll below: Continue reading

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