Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat along court side and cheered on his alma mater. The UCLA legend also took a photo with freshman 7-foot center Moses Brown, serving as an inspiration for the Bruins highly touted Five-star recruit.
“That was my first-time meeting [Kareem], I always wanted to meet him,” Brown said. “We had a lot of things in common. He told me to keep up the good work.”
Abdul-Jabbar was honored at halftime with his several of his teammates from the 1969 championship team with a barrage of cheers.
UCLA ultimately used the loud and energetic crowd to route Arizona 90-69 at Pauley Pavilion Saturday night. Kris Wilkes scored a career-high 34 points and Brown added 11 points and 15 rebounds to help the Bruins snap a three-game skid.
“You could see the look in his eye, you saw he was confident,” Bruins interim coach Murry Bartow said on Wilkes career night. “I like that he wasn’t giddy about it. He was very professional and didn’t change his expression much.”
“Ultimately, it’s up to me to make the right decision,” Wilkes said. “If I’m not open, swing it and I think tonight I calmed down a lot more and wasn’t trying to force a lot of shots like I did previously in past games.”
The Wildcats (14-7, 5-3 Pac-12) were held to 33 percent shooting and found themselves on the opposite side of the rebound margin (30-47), in favor of the Bruins (11-9, 4-3).
Jaylen Hands recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists, while Prince Ali added 10 points.
UCLA found themselves leading 22-15 following a Wilkes jump shot with 8:28 remaining in the first half. The Bruins kept their foot on the gas and used an 11-6 run to take a 15-point advantage seven minutes later.
In the second half, Arizona’s struggles continued on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats had no answer for the UCLA zone defense, shooting only 30 percent from the three-point line.
“We can’t make a shot,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “At the end of the day, someone really has to throw that ball in.”
Arizona had a near five-minute stretch that saw them go scoreless until Brandon Williams knocked down a three-pointer, still trailing 62-41.
UCLA claimed its largest lead of the game, 70-44 with 10:28 to play in the second half. Wilkes scored 10 points in a row, followed by a Jalen Hill dunk to put the game to rest early.
“We were focused and played the fully 40,” Hands said after the Bruins earned a 21-point victory. “Everyone was doing their part, and everyone played well.”
UCLA next travels to play Washington State (8-12, 1-6) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., followed by heading to Washington, to face the Huskies (16-4, 7-0) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.