The last time UCLA swept its season series with Arizona was the last time it won the Pac-10. Both could happen again this season.
The 14th-ranked Bruins (18-4, 8-2) look to win back-to-back games over the Wildcats (13-8, 6-4) for the first time in nine years when the teams meet on Saturday.
UCLA defeated then-No. 21 Arizona 85-79 at Tucson on Jan. 5, and can sweep the season series for the first time since 1996-97. The Bruins went 15-3 to finish first in the Pac-10 that season, something they haven’t done since.
UCLA has a one-game lead over California and Stanford, with both Arizona and Southern California two games back.
“We can’t even think about being in first place, because you saw Washington lost two games last weekend,” senior center Ryan Hollins said. “One game and we’re tied. You got to bring it every night, you can’t concede any game or just assume that we’re going to win it.”
UCLA won its third straight game with a 69-60 victory over Arizona State on Thursday. Jordan Farmar led the Bruins with 18 points and Arron Afflalo added 17 in a contest the Sun Devils kept close most of the way.
“This team is still capable of a lot more,” said Afflalo, who led UCLA with 22 points in the first meeting with Arizona this season.
The Bruins continue to fight through injury woes, with seven players having been sidelined at various times, but appear to be regaining some of their health.
Center Michael Fey appeared in his first game since Jan. 14 on Thursday while fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman, working his way back after missing eight games with an injured shoulder, had 10 points, four assists and two steals.
“Having Ced in the lineup is huge,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “Without Ced, it’s a problem for us. He’s even-keeled with his emotions and being able to keep things under control out there.”
The Wildcats have won 20 or more games in 18 consecutive seasons, but that streak could be in jeopardy with just eight contests remaining. Arizona has dropped two straight and is 5-4 after winning nine of its first 12 games.
Hassan Adams scored a season-low nine points, 10 below his average, in Thursday night’s 77-70 loss at USC. The senior guard shot just 4-for-11 from the field.
“I was getting looks. My shot just wasn’t falling,” Adams said. “I didn’t want to force it, I was trying to get my teammates involved.
“This is a big disappointment, man. We couldn’t do anything right. We’ve got to get back on the horse. We’ve just got to get it done. You can’t put a finger on one particular thing.”
Arizona committed a season-high 22 turnovers Thursday while forcing only 12.
“USC had 22 fast-break points, probably 14 of them came from steals,” Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. “You look at the turnovers and that’s the difference.”
Arizona is 13-5 against UCLA since the start of the 1997-98 season.