No. 4 UCLA beats No. 8 Arizona 81-73, goes 17-0 at home
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The final buzzer sounded and the party was on at Pauley Pavilion.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. rushed into the student section, his shaggy damp hair stuck to his face, and started bobbing up and down. He and his teammates celebrated with the fans after No. 4 UCLA beat eighth-ranked Arizona 81-73 on Saturday night to complete a 17-0 record at home in the teams’ regular-season finale.
“We did it, but at the same time we’re not done,” Jaquez said. “Now we got to go into the next half. To me, it’s like a whole new season.”
Jaquez had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Tyger Campbell added 21 points and David Singleton had 17, making a season-best five 3-pointers, for the Bruins (27-4, 18-2 Pac-12). They went undefeated at home for the first time since 2006-07 and have won 25 in a row at Pauley Pavilion in the nation’s longest active home winning streak.
UCLA had already clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title, winning by four games over the Wildcats.
“To be able to be Pac-12 champs, win the way we did on our home court, it’s like a script,” Jaquez said.
Jaquez dunked to push UCLA’s lead to 68-54. The Wildcats (25-6, 14-6) weren’t done yet, despite Ažuolas Tubelis playing with four fouls. He scored consecutive baskets and Kylan Boswell hit a 3-pointer to cut Arizona’s deficit to seven points.
But the Bruins put an exclamation point on the victory with six straight points that had the raucous crowd of 13,659 on its feet. Jaquez scored four points in a row, chasing the ball as it rolled down the court, grabbing it and putting it in the basket for a 74-61 lead.
“Our crowd was a huge factor,” coach Mick Cronin said. “Imagine if it was like that every night how big of an assist it would be for our team.”
Tubelis scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half for the Wildcats and had 10 rebounds before fouling out in the closing seconds. Also fouling out were Pelle Larsson (10 points) and Kerr Kriisa (13 points).
“We got beat by a team that was just better today,” Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd said. “They were a more physical team for over a longer period of time. In the second half, they came out strong and we just didn’t.”
The Bruins ran off eight straight points coming out of halftime to lead 48-37. Adem Bona’s three-point play launched a 14-6 run that extended their lead to 64-50. Bona picked up his third and fourth fouls during that stretch, while Tubelis did the same for Arizona.
Arizona raced to a 15-4 lead to start the game with Tubelis scoring 10 points. The Bruins shot 1 of 11 while Bona picked up two quick fouls and sat down the rest of the half.
Down 23-14, the Bruins ran off 15 straight points to take their first lead and went ahead 29-23. Jaylen Clark scored seven points in a row and Singleton began and ended the spurt with 3-pointers.
“We hung in there,” Cronin said. “Our defense kept us around.”
Tubelis got called for his second foul late in the half before the Bruins led 40-37 at the break.
Arizona: The Wildcats head into the postseason having lost three of six games. “We’re excited,” Lloyd said. “I love tournament basketball.”
UCLA: The Bruins go into next week’s Pac-12 Tournament as the top seed, having won their first regular-season league title since 2012-13. They carry the momentum of a 10-game winning streak into Las Vegas.
Clark didn’t return after getting hurt. He later appeared on the bench wearing a boot on his right foot. He’ll have an MRI on Sunday. “Obviously, it’s a blow if he’s out,” Cronin said.
SENIORS HONORED The Bruins honored five seniors before the game: Campbell, Jaquez, Kenneth Nwuba, Singleton and Russell Stong. Jaquez’s father, Jaime, lifted Cronin off the floor in a huge hug. “It’s not hard,” Cronin joked about the height difference. Jaquez Jr. laughed at the sight, saying, “I did not expect that at all.” Stong got his first start in his 36th career game. Cronin started all the seniors against the Wildcats. Singleton and Stong are fifth-year seniors with no eligibility remaining when the season ends. GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY UCLA’s 1972-73 national championship team was celebrated on its 50th anniversary. Led by Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes, the Bruins went 30-0 under coach John Wooden on their way to winning the program’s ninth national championship and seventh in a row. Walton, Wilkes, Larry Farmer and Sven Nater were among the team members who gathered at midcourt during halftime.
Top-seeded UCLA plays in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday in Las Vegas. No. 2 seed Arizona also plays Thursday.
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