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UCLA beats Arizona for 7th straight win, 69-64
By Jonathan Bassey , Contributing Writer
Published March 3, 2020

Arizona guard Jemarl Baker Jr., right, drives to the basket around UCLA guard Chris Smith during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

In mid-January the Bruins held a record of 8-9 with shocking losses to Hofstra and Cal State Fullerton and no thought of a March Madness Tournament bid. 

After Saturday’s defeat of the Arizona Wildcats 69-64, UCLA sits alone in first place of the Pac-12 with a 12-5 conference record and 19-11 overall record capping off seven straight victories on Senior Night. 

“We’ve come a long way, obviously,” said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin following the victory. “Like I told the guys this afternoon, we’re an underdog tonight. A lot of people still don’t believe in us and we’ve got to continue to play one-game tournaments. We cannot change our mentality.”

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From the jump ball both teams looked sloppy and unsure of themselves. The Bruins shot themselves in the foot shooting 23% in the first half while the Wildcats lack of depth crippled themselves early, outscored by 13 in bench points to the Bruins after the first half. 

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, shoots over Arizona forward Stone Gettings during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. UCLA won 69-64. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The intensity and ramifications of the game could be felt throughout Pauley Pavilion and certainly in the body language of Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller who received a technical foul after feeling the referees missed a foul call on Freshman guard Nico Mannion. 

Arizona Freshman forward Zeke Nnaji pushed the Wildcats out to a 33-27 halftime lead over the Bruins tallying 12 first half points.

 

UCLA outscored Arizona 42-31 in the second half sparked by a surge led by Junior forward Chris Smith. Smith finished the game with 17 points scoring 14 in the second half. 

“Just worrying about the next play. That’s all it is,” said Smith on his second half turnaround. “You can’t be worried about the last play or the last half, whatever it is. Just looking forward to the next play and just trying to be there for my teammates is all it was.”

Arizona Assistant Coach Jack Murphy took over coaching duties when Sean Miller was ejected after receiving his second technical foul of the game from arguing a call with the referees.

 

UCLA outscored Arizona 42-31 in the second half sparked by a surge led by Junior forward Chris Smith. Smith finished the game with 17 points scoring 14 in the second half. 

“Just worrying about the next play. That’s all it is,” said Smith on his second half turnaround. “You can’t be worried about the last play or the last half, whatever it is. Just looking forward to the next play and just trying to be there for my teammates is all it was.”

Arizona guard Nico Mannion shoots over UCLA forward Jalen Hill during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. UCLA won 69-64. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Arizona Assistant Coach Jack Murphy took over coaching duties when Sean Miller was ejected after receiving his second technical foul of the game from arguing a call with the referees.

 

The Bruins led the game for roughly three minutes. That’s all that was needed to defeat Arizona in a thrilling environment at Pauley Pavilion. 

UCLA will attempt to extend their winning streak to eight games when they head to USC to take on the Trojans in the regular season finale Saturday March 7th. 

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