The Arizona Wildcats quest for a Pac-12 tournament championship ended Friday here at MGM Grand Garden Arena as top-seed UCLA fought back from a second half double digit deficit and held on in the closing seconds for a 66-64 win. It was the second major comeback for the Bruins, who turned the same trick on Arizona State Thursday.
One of the biggest plays was a second half technical assessed to the UofA bench after point guard Mark Lyons was called for double-dribble near their own bench.
An animated Sean Miller said it changed the complexion of the game after Jordan Adams made both free throws. He had no problem pointing the finger at himself.
“If you’re the coach of a team and you get a technical in this type of situation… that’s unacceptable,” an animated Miller explained. “And he made both free throws, hence the difference in the game. The reason I got a technical foul was because I said he touched the ball… he touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. The [technical] is a hard one now when you work August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and here we are.”
UofA (25-6) can look at several other instances where the game got away, including the closing seconds when Kyle Anderson took back a missed Jordan Adams three-pointer in a tie game with :23 seconds to play.
The ‘Cats got a good look in the closing seconds, but Solomon Hill’s top of the key jumper rimmed out and the Bruins advanced to the title game Saturday night.
Freshman Brandon Ashley led Arizona in scoring with 15 points, while Mark Lyons added 13. Adams paced UCLA (24-8) with a game-high 24. He shot and made more free throws (11-13) than UofA’s entire team (7-9).
“The free throws were the biggest difference,” the senior Hill said. “We can do everything we can to keep the ball in our hands…but the free throws. When you get a team that shoots 21 free throws and you shoot nine, it’s kinda hard to pull out that win.”