Wildcats fall to UCLA but are much more pleased with their play

For the second time in three years the Arizona Wildcats have been swept by the Los Angeles schools after losing to UCLA 74-69 on Saturday night. The game was in front of an electric environment at Pauley Pavilion which brought out Blake Griffin, Bill Walton and Baron Davis and set their all time attendance record in the building.

The Wildcats were down by as much as 13 in the second half after UCLA went on a big run out of halftime. But Arizona battled back thanks to two big three-pointers down the stretch from freshman Grant Jarrett who finished with a team high 14 points.

“I am really proud of our guys’ effort,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “I thought we battled back.”

“Coach Miller said we played better with more heart and focus,” said freshman Grant Jarrett. “I am proud of them but we still have work to do.”

After the game Wednesday night against USC, both Sean Miller and his players were noticeably disgusted with their play. Spoke about having a lack of effort and energy and Solomon Hill went on to say that his team had lost their way.

After Saturday night’s game despite losing, it was a completely different tone. The Wildcats played with more confidence and battled back in a hostile environment which made them feel much better about themselves as they go into the final week of the regular season.

“For me, I have a much better feeling about this game then I did the other night against USC,” Miller explained. “Just because I thought we played at a much higher level. It’s never good to lose. The objective is to win. But I love the fact that we fought back hard and gave ourselves an opportunity to win.”

“It’s not even close,” added Nick Johnson. “The other night we were lacks-a-daisical to a team in our house we beat by a lot…Tonight it felt right all but the win.”

The Wildcats saw players step up who have either struggled of late or have underachieved throughout the season. Nick Johnson who has struggled of late was back knocking down shots and playing with confidence. He finished with 10 points. Also back-up point guard Jordin Mayes had his best game of the season. His aggressive play offensively really kept the Wildcats in the game in the first half.

“For Grant Jarrett to do what he did as a freshman gives me a lot of hope here down the stretch,” mentioned Miller. “We’ve been looking for guys off the bench to play well. Jordin Mayes also did great job.”

“You can see how good Arizona is,” said UCLA head coach Ben Howland after the game. “It is evident how talented and deep they are…I’m just glad we snuck out of here with a win. If you told me right now that Zona would be in the Final Four, it’s a real possibility.”

Wildcats have one game to go against rival ASU from McKale Center next Saturday as Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom will suit up for a home game for the last time.