Arizona 66, UCLA 58

Arizona and UCLA weren’t their usual high-scoring selves, with

neither getting the kind of easy baskets that come when the offense

is flowing.

Instead, it came down to defense and free throws – lots and lots

of ’em by the Wildcats, who won 66-58 in the Pac-12 tournament

quarterfinals Thursday despite going 8 1/2 minutes without a field

goal in the second half.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats (22-10) were 24 of 27 from the

free-throw line in the second half, and they needed those when

their shooting dipped to 30 percent over the final 20 minutes and

the Bruins briefly took the lead.

Solomon Hill scored 25 points, Jesse Perry added 16 points and

Kyle Fogg scored 13. Arizona went 31 of 36 from the line, with

Perry making 12 of 13 and Hill 12 of 14. Hill and Perry had 12

rebounds each.

”As often is the case in March, you ride the coattails of the

individual players playing better than they’ve played before,”

Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. ”The only thing you have to do is

look at the stat sheet and the meaning of Jesse, Solomon and Kyle

is immense. These three guys are the heart and soul of our

team.”

Arizona, seeking its first tournament title since 2002, advanced

to Friday’s semifinals against ninth-seeded Oregon State, which

upset top-seeded Washington 86-84 earlier at Staples Center.

”The objective in March is to just keep winning and don’t

stop,” Miller said. ”Hopefully tonight is the first of a couple

more.”

The fifth-seeded Bruins (19-14) were led by guards Lazeric Jones

with 17 points and Jerime Anderson with 14.

”It hurts and I’m sad knowing that we’re done,” said Jones, a

junior college transfer who played two seasons with the team.

”It’s not the way we wanted it to be.”

UCLA played the final 11:03 without big man Joshua Smith, who

fouled out in nine minutes after totaling seven points and three

rebounds. Travis Wear, who had 10 points and six rebounds, fouled

out for the first time this season with 2:52 remaining.

”I’m upset with myself,” Smith said. ”I realize my numbers

aren’t what they should be and not what they were last season. I’m

definitely going to come back to UCLA. I know the work I have to

put in during the offseason. There is no way I could leave on a

note like that.”

The loss snapped UCLA’s three-game winning streak and all but

guaranteed the Bruins will miss the NCAA tournament for the second

time in three years.

Asked whether the team would accept a possible NIT bid – they

haven’t played in it since 1986 – coach Ben Howland said, ”We

would not snub our nose at the opportunity.”

Fogg’s 3-pointer to open the second half stretched Arizona’s

lead to nine points, and the Wildcats led by seven when the Bruins

made their big push with 10 1/2 minutes left. Anderson led a 15-8

run with seven points, while Tyler Lamb’s steal and layup gave UCLA

its first lead, 46-45, since the game’s opening minutes.

The teams traded baskets during a furious up-and-down sprint,

capped by Anderson’s 3-pointer that tied it at 51 with 6:16 to

play.

”We had our opportunities to win this game and did not seize

the moment,” Howland said. ”You’ve got to make those free throws

in those tight situations. You’ve got to take better care of the

ball.”

Arizona ran off seven straight points despite briefly losing its

shooting touch again, but the Wildcats’ defense came up with big

stops, with Fogg blocking Jones and Travis Wear picking up his

fourth foul.

”Rebounding, staying together, and having an attack

mentality,” Perry said, summing up the Wildcats’ approach.

”Always when you get a little bit of opening, attacking. Attacking

the glass, attacking the defensive glass and the offense just

attacking period. It’s opened up a lot of shots for us.”

The Wildcats kept going to the line and sinking free throws,

driving the final dagger into UCLA’s season of dysfunction that

included top player Reeves Nelson getting kicked off the team and

an unflattering portrayal of the vaunted program in a Sports

Illustrated story last week.

”It’s been an extremely hard season with losing Reeves and all

of the media hype with us being ranked,” Smith said. ”Now our

season may be over. But we stuck together through thick and

thin.”

Anderson endured his own early-season suspension after stealing

a laptop on campus.

”I really feel that I came here with a big (recruiting) class

and a lot of hype,” the senior said. ”Just thinking about it, I

don’t really think we lived up to it that greatly.”

The Bruins were the ones held to a lone field goal over the

final 6:16.

The Wildcats improved to 2-3 against UCLA in conference

tournament games, while their 20 victories and four titles are tops

in the tourney’s history.

They won without Josiah Turner, who was suspended indefinitely

before the tournament for the second time this season after he

violated unspecified team rules.

”I’m disappointed for Josiah, and hopefully this latest

incident or lesson will really serve him well moving forward,”

Miller said.

Arizona led virtually the entire first half, with its largest

lead of 10 points coming from a 14-5 run that included 3-pointers

by Fogg and Hill. Jones took an elbow to the face and briefly went

to the bench with a bloody nose. He returned to hit a 3-pointer

during a 12-8 spurt that left UCLA trailing 29-23 at halftime.

Both teams combined for 20 turnovers in the sloppy half, when

they were even on the boards and in steals. The Bruins were held to

34 percent field-goal shooting, with Arizona’s defense forcing them

into taking off-balance shots with only a few seconds left on the

shot clock. The Wildcats finished with 19 turnovers and the Bruins

had 13.