York, Ristic lead No. 7 Arizona to victory over UCLA
Arizona coach Sean Miller ripped off his jacket and tossed it to the floor. With his starters dribbling into trouble for turnovers and missing one shot after another, he didn’t know what else to do.
"I wanted to jump in there and start playing, but I couldn’t so that was my best (move)," Miller said. "I probably looked like an idiot, but it won’t be the last time."
Gabe York and Dusan Ristic made him look an awful lot smarter.
York scored 13 points, Ristic added 12 and No. 7 Arizona relied on its depth and defense to wear down UCLA for an ugly 57-47 victory Saturday night.
"We won tonight because we had two players who were not starters come in and contribute in massive ways," said Miller, who was wearing his jacket again after the game.
Outside of point guard T.J. McConnell, Arizona (24-3, 12-2 Pac-12) got almost no offensive production from its starters.
Arizona needed 6 minutes to score its first points of the game and went nearly seven more without scoring to open the second. The Wildcats were outscored 24-0 during those two runs, while Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went a combined 4 for 25 from the field overall.
The Wildcats got a lift from Ristic and York in the first half, combining for 22 of their 32 points.
McConnell finished it off, scoring six of his 11 points in the final 1:14 while finishing with five assists.
In between, Arizona played solid defense and crushed UCLA on the boards to stretch its home winning streak to 36 games.
The Wildcats had a 40-23 rebounding advantage and outscored the Bruins 16-0 on second-chance points after holding the Pac-12’s best offensive-rebounding team to one on the offensive glass.
"It was ugly, but we’ll take a win any way we can get it," McConnell said.
UCLA (16-12, 8-7) responded to a dismal first half with an almost-unheard-of run at McKale Center in the second, scoring the first 17 points to take the lead.
The Bruins wore down, though, unable to keep up after Tony Parker, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh fouled out.
Bryce Alford had 22 points and Norman Powell 11 for UCLA.
"We had a good run to start the game, we had a good run to start the second half, but the rebounds got away from us on top of having three guys foul out," UCLA coach Steve Alford said.
While Arizona is fighting for a high seed in the NCAA tournament, UCLA is still scrapping for a spot in the bracket.
The Bruins’ chances took a bit of a hit Wednesday night when they lost to unranked Arizona State. The Wildcats also lost to the Sun Devils, but their resume is far more impressive than UCLA’s to this point.
A win at Arizona would go a long way to boost the Bruins’ chances.
UCLA played as if it had something to prove at the start, hounding Arizona’s ballhandlers and forcing tough shots.
The Wildcats missed their first eight shots and had four turnovers in their opening nine possessions, looking like a nervous road team, not the nation’s seventh-ranked team playing at home.
A pair of backups finally got Arizona going.
Ristic hit two free throws at 13:55 for Arizona’s first points, then popped in consecutive jump hooks. York hit a couple of 3-pointers off the bench and added another a couple minutes later.
Ristic had 12 points and York 10 to help Arizona build a 32-18 halftime lead.
"Dusan got it started and I just fed off that," York said.
The Wildcats’ defense was good from the start and really locked down UCLA down after seeing a few shots fall at the other end.
The Bruins made 5 of 20 shots in the first half: four by Alford, who had 11 points, and none over the final 4:43.
The start of the second half looked a lot like the first: Arizona missed its first 10 shots and UCLA hit 6 of 8 during its big run to take a 35-32 lead.
"We’ve been good at starting the second half and what’s good is we got a lot of stops," Alford said. "Really proud of our guys going into halftime down 14, then 6-7 minutes into the second half, we are tied."
The Wildcats righted themselves a bit after that, gradually stretching the lead to eight. UCLA cut the deficit to 51-47, but McConnell hit a jumper and four free throws in the final 1:14 to help Arizona pull out the victory.
UCLA: The Bruins are 2-8 in true road games this season. … Parker fouled out with 6:58 left, finishing with 2 points on 0-for-1 shooting.
Arizona: Ristic and York went a combined 7 for 10 from the floor in the first half. The rest of the team was 4 for 20. … Johnson went 1 for 9 from the field and finished with seven points.
UCLA hosts Washington on Wednesday night.
Arizona plays at Colorado on Thursday night.