UCLA beats No. 11 Arizona 74-69 for Pac-12 tieBy BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Mar 3, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Shabazz Muhammad went up in traffic and came down with the ball in his hands, always where the star freshman wants it with the game on the line.
He got fouled in snagging the defensive rebound and made both free throws with 9 seconds remaining, helping UCLA hang on for a 74-69 victory over No. 11 Arizona on Saturday night that moved the Bruins into a first-place tie with idle Oregon in the Pac-12.
“I just like being competitive,” Muhammad said. “I didn’t know who was there, I just tried to grab the ball so we could get possession. I just tried to help my teammates out.”
He finished with 18 points as UCLA fans chanted “One more year” in reference to Muhammad’s likely early departure for the NBA draft.
“I knew going into this deal that this was a one-year deal and it should be,” Bruins coach Ben Howland said. “He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it’s absolutely the right thing for him. That was absolutely his last game in Pauley Pavilion. I know that, he knows that, we all know that. We want the season to go as long as possible for him.”
Muhammad and his father said after the game that he hasn’t made a decision about his immediate future.
“It’s still a long season of basketball. I’m just going to enjoy this win,” he said, adding that he heard the fans weighing in.
“The fans here are great. I enjoyed myself the whole year. I gained a lot of experience coming here.”
Kyle Anderson added 15 of his 17 points in the first half, Larry Drew II had 14 points and nine assists in the senior’s final home game for the Bruins, and David Wear had nine points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s senior night and I told Larry before the game we’d get the win,” Muhammad said. “I had to make sure and make those free throws for him.”
Anderson, another of UCLA’s highly touted freshmen, also said he hasn’t thought about his future.
“I’m too caught up in the season and what we can do to get better,” he said.
Freshman Grant Jerrett hit four 3-pointers in scoring 14 points, Mark Lyons added 13, and Kevin Parrom 11 for the Wildcats (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12), who committed 16 turnovers in coach Sean Miller’s 300th career game. He is 212-88 overall and 92-41 in nine seasons in the desert.
“I love the fact that we fought back hard and gave ourselves an opportunity to win,” Miller said. “It would be difficult for any team to come in here and win.”
The Wildcats dropped the season series, having lost 84-73 in Tucson in January. It was the first sweep between the schools since UCLA did it in 2008.
“It means a lot,” Drew said. “They’re two storied programs. I’m glad my fellas came prepared to play and got the win.”
UCLA (22-7, 12-4) took control with a 15-5 run to open the second half, when it built a 14-point lead, before Arizona rallied with a 10-2 run to get to 72-69.
Drew dribbled down to use time but then turned the ball over before UCLA could get off a shot with 24 seconds left. Lyons missed a jumper and Muhammad grabbed the rebound and fell to the floor while getting fouled by Nick Johnson.
“We were supposed to set a screen, but Drew read it and he kind of cheated off the screen and played good defense,” Jerrett said.
Muhammad made both for a 74-69 lead before Lyons turned the ball over on the Wildcats’ last possession.
“He is like ice water,” Howland said. “He wants to take the shot. As we all know, he’s disappointed when he doesn’t.”
UCLA broke a four-point game open with its second-half run. Drew scored six points on two 3-pointers, Muhammad had five points and Wear four as the Bruins took a 55-41 lead.
The Wildcats rallied with a 13-4 spurt that included two 3-pointers by Johnson and another by Parrom that closed them to 59-54.
“They came out with a little more energy at the start of each half. You are supposed to win at home, but we have to respond better,” Parrom said. “That is something we have to be better at if we want to go where we want to go.”
Muhammad answered with a 3-pointer and Wear hit one several seconds later for a 67-56 lead, keeping the Wildcats in catch-up mode for most of the game.
Arizona concluded a losing weekend in Los Angeles, having been beaten 89-78 by Southern California on Wednesday night. The Wildcats have lost four of their past seven games, with only rival Arizona State to play next weekend before the Pac-12 tournament begins in Las Vegas.
The Bruins end the regular season on the road against the Washington schools.
“It would be really sweet to win the Pac-12,” Muhammad said.
UCLA led most of the first half, although never by more than seven points. Drew’s layup with 2 seconds left kept the Bruins ahead 40-36 at the break.
Travis Wear returned to the Bruins’ lineup after missing two straight games with a right foot injury, although Howland said he played in pain. He finished with six points as one of three UCLA players in second-half foul trouble.
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups and Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers were among the sellout crowd of 13,727. Baron Davis and Bill Walton were on hand, too. UCLA honored its 1972 national championship team at halftime.