Muhammad, Drew lead UCLA to win over Arizona
A pair of UCLA players had a memorable night on what likely will be the swan song for both at Pauley Pavilion.
Touted freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad scored 18 points and senior point guard Larry Drew II had 14 points and nine assists as the Bruins beat 11th-ranked Arizona 74-69 on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
The game was played in front of a sold-out record crowd of 13,727 at renovated Pauley Pavilion on Senior Night.
After the game, UCLA coach Ben Howland all but guaranteed that Muhammad -- who hit two key free throws with 9.5 seconds left as fans chanted "One more year!" -- would be turning pro.
"I knew going into this season that this was a one-year deal," Howland said. "He's a top-five pick. That was his last game in Pauley."
Muhammad responded to Howland's proclamation: "It's a long season. We don't know yet."
Drew, a one-and-done transfer from North Carolina, tied his season high in scoring as UCLA (22-7, 12-4) swept the season series from the Wildcats. The Bruins moved into a tie for first in the Pac-12 with Oregon.
"Larry Drew was too much for us," said Arizona coach Sean Miller.
"When he scores, it adds a different dimension to their team. He had his usual nine assists. His four turnovers are high, but I thought he was in control of the game from start to finish. They feed off of him."
Arizona (23-6, 11-6) has lost four of its past seven games and was swept on a road trip to the Los Angeles schools this week.
The Wildcats, rallying from 11 down with 4:12 to go, forced UCLA into a shot-clock violation with 24 seconds left and the Bruins leading 72-69. Arizona point guard Mark Lyons spun into the lane for a jumper that missed, and Muhammad was fouled while grabbing the defensive rebound with 9.5 seconds left.
"We're peaking at the right time," said Howland, whose team has won six of seven games, with three of the victories coming by five points or less.
"The thing is, we're winning close games. That's what we expect."
Kyle Anderson, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half, also had seven rebounds for UCLA. Forward David Wear added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Freshman post player Grant Jerrett came off the bench to lead four Arizona players in double figures with 14 points. He hit 4-of-5 3-pointers, including one with 1:10 to go, to cut the lead to 72-69. Lyons scored 13 points, but had five turnovers and only one assist.
Arizona has given up at least 70 points in all six of its losses, allowing opponents to shoot a combined 51.8 percent. UCLA shot 46.8 percent.
"Our defense once again is not able to answer the bell," Miller said. "We're not a good enough defensive team to win on the road like this."
UCLA led 40-36 at halftime and raced ahead with a 12-0 run early in the second half. The Bruins, fueled by their transition game, started the streak with a dunk by Muhammad and ended it with Muhammad's three-point play for a 52-38 lead with 15:25 to go. Arizona forward Solomon Hill picked up his fourth foul on the play.
The Wildcats rallied as Hill sat on the bench for nearly six minutes, cutting the lead to 59-53 on 3-pointers from Kevin Parrom and Nick Johnson on back-to-back possessions. UCLA pushed the lead back to 70-59 on Muhammad's free throw with 4:12 to go and then held on down the stretch.
UCLA, which took a 21-5 lead en route to an 84-73 win over Arizona in Tucson on Jan. 24, was on its way to a more modest fast start, leading 13-6 before the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run. Arizona freshman 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski tied the score with a layup with 12:03 to go in the half.
The Bruins quickly responded after a 30-second timeout with an alley-oop dunk by Travis Wear off a pass from his twin, David Wear. On the next possession, Norman Powell drove past Kevin Parrom for an emphatic one-handed jam.
UCLA pushed the lead to seven points twice again, but Hill tied the score at 29 with a driving dunk with 4:53 to go before halftime. Anderson then took the scoring load for UCLA, scoring nine consecutive points for the Bruins, a streak that ended when Drew drove for a layup with two seconds left and a 40-36 halftime lead.
NOTES: UCLA had only one senior to honor on Senior Night -- Larry Drew, a one-year transfer from North Carolina. He was second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.46 to 1) through Thursday's games. ... Travis Wear, who had missed the past two games because of a sprained right foot, was back in the starting lineup. ... Arizona finishes the regular season at home Saturday against Arizona State. ... Blake Griffin and a few of his Los Angeles Clippers were in attendance. Actor/comedian Garry Shandling, a University of Arizona alum who attended high school in Tucson, also was courtside.
NCAA TRIVIA QUESTION
Which team was the only one to defeat three No. 1 seeds in the same NCAA Tournament?
A) 1983 North Carolina State
B) 1985 Villanova
C) 1997 Arizona
D) 2008 Kansas
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.