It may not have been pretty, but a late three-pointer by Jordan Adams and some excellent defense proved to be enough for UCLA to upset overall No. 4 Arizona and come away with the Pac-12 Tournament Championship. The sophomore Adams broke a 68-68 tie with 43 seconds to play. The three was his only make from long distance in the game.
The game was a defensive battle late with the two teams combining to score just 16 points during the final six minutes. While there were some missed shots and a sloppy spurt or two, there was also some excellent defense including a handful of spectacular blocks. One of them came on a huge play from Norman Powell as he blocked Nick Johnson's potential game-tying attempt. The Wildcats missed another three and UCLA came away with the rebound. The Bruins were able to hit their free throws and hold on for the win.
UCLA jumped out to an early lead and held a comfortable advantage for most of the first half. Six straight points from Kaleb Tarczewski helped cut into that lead late in the half with Arizona narrowing the Bruins' advantage to 43-40 at halftime. Arizona continued to chip away at the lead, tying the game at 46 with 18 minutes to go before taking its first lead of the contest with less than 16 minutes to go.
From there, it was a back-and-forth battle with both teams matching the other step for step. A 5-0 run gave the Bruins a bit of breathing room, but the Wildcats came right back with an 8-4 run of their own.
The stars on both teams came to play. Kyle Anderson once again did a little bit of everything for UCLA, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. Adams and Powell also had solid games for the Bruins, finishing with 19 and 15 points, respectively, in addition to the two big plays at the end.
As he did all season, Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson led the way for Arizona. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Freshman Aaron Gordon had a solid game as well, scoring 11 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 8 assists. His performance included another highlight play to add to the reel.
The loss likely eliminates Arizona's chance at the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, although the Wildcats are still likely to come away with a No. 1 seed. With the win, UCLA punches its ticket to the dance and should get a boost, possibly to a high No. 5 seed.