Published January 13, 2015
No. 11 Arizona wasn't feeling so bad about itself after losing 74-69 to UCLA.
The Wildcats' 89-78 defeat at Southern California three nights earlier was what really stung on their lost weekend in Los Angeles.
"I have a much better feeling after this game than I had the other night against USC, just because we played at a much higher level," coach Sean Miller said. "I love the fact we fought back hard and gave ourselves an opportunity to win."
Shabazz Muhammad grabbed a defensive rebound, got fouled and made both free throws with 9 seconds remaining, helping UCLA hang on for the win Saturday night and gain a tie with idle Oregon for first in the Pac-12.
Freshman Grant Jerrett hit four 3-pointers in scoring 14 points, Mark Lyons added 13, and Kevin Parrom 11 for the Wildcats (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12), who committed 16 turnovers in coach Sean Miller's 300th career game.
He is 212-88 overall and 92-41 in nine seasons in the desert. The Wildcats dropped the season series, having lost 84-73 in Tucson in January.
"I thought we played well as a team and much better than the SC game," Jerrett said. "(Miller) said we played much better with more heart and more focus."
Muhammad finished with 18 points, Kyle Anderson added 17 points, Larry Drew II had 14 points and nine assists in the senior's final home game for the Bruins, and David Wear had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins.
UCLA (22-7, 12-4) took control with a 15-5 run to open the second half before Arizona rallied with a 10-2 run to get to 72-69.
Drew dribbled down to use time, but then turned the ball over before UCLA could get off a shot with 24 seconds left. Lyons missed a jumper and Muhammad grabbed the rebound and fell to the floor while getting fouled by Nick Johnson.
"We were supposed to set a screen, but Drew read it and he kind of cheated off the screen and played good defense," Jerrett said.
Muhammad made both for a 74-69 lead and Lyons turned the ball over on the Wildcats' final possession.
"They came out with a little more energy at the start of each half," Parrom said. "You are supposed to win at home but we have to respond better. That is something we have to be better at if we want to go where we want to go."
UCLA broke a four-point game open with its second-half run. Drew scored six points on two 3-pointers, Muhammad had five points and Wear four as the Bruins took a 55-41 lead.
The Wildcats rallied with a 13-4 spurt that included two 3-pointers by Johnson and another by Parrom that closed them to 59-54.
But Muhammad answered with a 3-pointer and Wear hit one several seconds later for a 67-56 lead, keeping the Wildcats in catch-up mode for most of the game.
"It would be difficult for any team to come in here today and win," Miller said. "We battled back in the second half and to see Grant Jerrett do what he did as a freshman gives me a lot of hope here down the home stretch."
The Wildcats have lost four of their past seven games, with only rival Arizona State to play next weekend before the Pac-12 tournament begins in Las Vegas.
Parrom said the Wildcats barely talked about offense leading into the game.
"We just worried about defense," he said. "It showed a little bit. We have to improve on defense and we got better today on defense."
UCLA led most of the first half, although never by more than seven points. Drew's layup with 2 seconds left kept the Bruins ahead 40-36 at the break.