LOS ANGELES (AP)—Arron Afflalo’s defense held down the Pac-10’s leading scorer and Darren Collison’s acrobatic penetration tore holes in Arizona’s zone, leaving the 11th-ranked Wildcats in tatters.
Afflalo scored 22 points and No. 3 UCLA won 73-69 on Saturday, sending Lute Olson to his first three-game Pac-10 losing streak in 22 years.
Darren Collison added 14 points and seven assists, Michael Roll had 13 points and Alfred Aboya grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds for the Bruins (17-1, 6-1), who improved to 15-0 at Pauley Pavilion dating to last season.
The victory kept UCLA atop the Pac-10 standings, tied with No. 9 Oregon, which played later Saturday.
“This is a great win for us,” Aboya said.
Unlike Thursday against Arizona State, the Bruins found a way through an opponent’s zone. Collison’s aggressive drives sometimes landed him on the floor, but he bounced up and kept going at the Wildcats.
“Collison is the key to their whole ballclub,” Olson said. “He just puts a lot of pressure defensively, gets a lot of steals, puts a lot of pressure on the defense to keep him out of the lane, and (he’s) very, very quick.”
Ivan Radenovic scored 21 points and Marcus Williams added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona (13-5, 4-4). Williams’ 18.5-point average topped the Pac-10 coming in, but dipped thanks to Afflalo’s defense.
The Wildcats lost 80-73 at Southern California on Thursday and were previously beaten at home by Oregon.
“I told my teammates to keep their heads up,” Mustafa Shakur said. “We have big games next week so we can’t let this linger and keep worrying about it.”
Olson hadn’t experienced a three-game conference losing skid since 1983-84, his first season in Tucson, when the Wildcats lost to Stanford, Washington and Oregon State in February.
Did Olson remember that long-ago losing feeling?
“No, I don’t and I don’t want to find out again what it feels like,” he said.
Only twice in Olson’s 24 seasons have the Wildcats lost three straight; the previous time came last season when they were beaten at North Carolina and then dropped games at Southern California and UCLA.
Saturday’s win was UCLA’s fourth straight over Arizona—a first during Olson’s tenure.
“Keep it going, keep it going,” Afflalo said. “Your tenure here is so short and you want to rack up as many victories as you can.”
UCLA saw a 12-point lead dwindle to three over the final 2 1/2 minutes. Arizona outscored the Bruins 9-0 before Roll hit two free throws to keep them ahead 70-65 with 25 seconds left.
Roll had only attempted two previous free throws this season, making both, and seven during all of last season.
Free throws again proved a liability for the Bruins, who were 12-of-20 from the line, while Arizona made 22-of-25.
Collison fouled Shakur, who made both to draw the Wildcats within three with 17 seconds left. Forced to foul, the Wildcats picked on Aboya and the fans gasped, but he made both for a 72-67 lead.
“We shot the ball miserably, again, except at the line,” Olson said.
After a timeout, Shakur missed a layup and Williams fouled Afflalo, who made one of two with 8 seconds to go to preserve the win. Shakur finished with 11 points.
“We gave a tremendous effort, but we have to play two halves. Until we play two halves, we’re going to have slip-ups like this,” Shakur said.
The Wildcats have been unable to get their high-octane offense going in four of their last five games. Only once in that stretch did they score more than 80 points and win.
They were held to 39 percent field-goal shooting against UCLA, which notched the game’s first double-digit lead with 6:45 remaining. The Bruins scored five in a row for a 60-50 lead.
“They shot 50 percent in the second half, but those buckets were late when we were trying not to foul and they were driving all the way to the basket,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
The Bruins pushed their lead back to 10 points on Josh Shipp’s dunk that got the season’s largest home crowd of 12,249 on its feet heading into a timeout.
UCLA’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, coming off a career-high 14 rebounds against Arizona State, missed the game because of a sprained right knee. An MRI done Friday showed no structural damage, a team spokesman said.
There was a string of wild possessions in the first half, some with the Bruins losing the ball only to get it back in a scramble at Arizona’s end and others with the Wildcats gaining and losing control as fast as they could run up and down the court.
The Bruins scored 11 points off turnovers in the half—when they shot 48 percent—while Arizona managed just two.
“The first half we had a number of fast-break opportunities that we just butchered by turning the ball over or trying to force things,” Olson said. “We had five advantage breaks that we got nothing out of.”
Down by eight, UCLA outscored Arizona 18-4, including 13 in a row, to end the half ahead 35-29. They found success penetrating the Wildcats’ zone defense and Collison ended the half with his favorite kind of play—a coast-to-coast scoring drive that incensed Olson.
The Wildcats didn’t have a field goal over the last 6 minutes before halftime.
Former UCLA coach John Wooden, who at 96 is a regular behind the Bruins’ bench, watched on television from home because of an achy leg, a school spokesman said.