Published January 13, 2015
Arizona had a plan to slow UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew II and, for the most part, it worked.
Jordan Adams? They had no answer for him.
Adams scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half before hurting his foot on the game's final play, helping No. 21 UCLA rally for a 66-64 victory over the 18th-ranked Wildcats Friday night in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
"Jordan Adams really stepped up and they made big plays," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "That's what March is about, making big plays."
Adams also may have stepped out of the postseason.
He landed awkwardly on Arizona's final shot attempt at the end of the game and limped off the floor, headed to get x-rays.
"We'll see how it is," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
Ditching their new pajama-like uniforms for the more traditional white with blue and yellow trim, the Bruins (25-8) fought back from an 11-point second-half deficit after pulling off a similar rally against Arizona State in the quarterfinals. Adams triggered it, scoring 17 points in the final 9:57, including 15 straight during one stretch.
Kyle Anderson put UCLA in front on a putback with 22 seconds left and Arizona's Solomon Hill missed a midrange jumper, sending the Bruins into Saturday night's title game.
"The leaders on our team stressed to the five guys that are out there that we have to stay calm, being down 11 or 9 or whatever it was," said Anderson, who had 10 points. "I think that's what we did a really good job of and we were able to fight back for a second time and end up with the win."
Arizona (25-7) was effective in slowing down Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew II, but had no answer for Adams once he got going in the second half.
Muhammad finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting after a quiet first half and Drew went scoreless after missing all five of his shots.
Adams made up for it, hitting 6 of 13 shots and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line for the Pac-12 regular-season champs in an entertaining game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Brandon Ashley had 15 points, Mark Lyons added 13 and Kaleb Tarczewski had 13 rebounds for the Wildcats, who had already been assured a spot in the NCAA tournament, but could drop a few seeds after a late-season slide and the loss to UCLA.
"I don't know what seed we're going to get," Miller sad. "We played well from start to finish and we lost. It's hard when you lose to a team three times."
UCLA beat Arizona twice during the regular season, 84-73 in Tucson and 74-69 at home for its first season sweep of the Wildcats since 2007-08.
UCLA got off to a slow start in its opening game of the Pac-12 tournament, rallying from a 15-point deficit to beat Arizona State 80-75 in the quarterfinals.
Arizona built a 14-point lead in its opener, but couldn't shake Colorado until late for a 79-69 win.
After the quarterfinal win, the Wildcats said they were looking forward to get a chance for revenge against the Bruins.
They played with an extra intensity, too, particularly on defense, cutting off lanes, knocking UCLA's players to the floor with hard fouls.
Hounded by Nick Johnson, Drew had trouble getting into the lane, where he does his most damage, and missed all three of his shots — with one assist — in a scoreless first half.
"We picked Larry Drew up much closer to the basket and I thought that helped our entire team, not just the guy guarding him," Miller said.
The Wildcats, led by Hill, also kept Muhammad from breaking loose.
The freshman swingman had a slow start against Arizona State in the quarterfinals before taking over during a key stretch in the second half and struggled early against Arizona, scoring 2 points while making 1 of his 4 shots.
"Everybody's dialed in on Shabazz. God bless him," Howland said. "He's seeing the best team's defender night in and night out, and they're really coming after him
UCLA missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the first half and shot 11 of 32 with just two assists.
Arizona led 30-26 at halftime and tried to pull away from the Bruins to start the second half.
With Drew and Muhammad still unable to shake their shadows, UCLA missed its first five shots and Arizona stretched the lead to 49-38 midway through.
But, just like he did against the Sun Devils, Muhammad started to come alive, scoring on a layup and on a three-point play as part of a 9-0 run that pulled the Bruins within 49-47.
Then it was Adams' turn. He matched the Wildcats by himself in a back-and-forth game, scoring 13 straight points in a little over 5 minutes to put UCLA ahead.
Arizona couldn't stop Adams and became frustrated with the officiating — Miller received his first technical foul of the season — and let the game slip away.
"We let the refs dictate our play in the second half and our tempo," Hill said. "When you start getting down on the refs and try to argue with the refs, you kind of lose focus on the team goals and what we want to do out there. "