LAS VEGAS - At halftime Thursday, it appeared UCLA had the most apt mascot name in college sports. The young Bruins could be ferocious, sure, but prone to hibernate for long periods.
UCLA trailed Arizona State by eight at halftime in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal and watched as the Hades-hot Sun Devils took a 15-point lead about four minutes into the second frame.
In rallying for an 80-75 win, though, the No. 21 Bruins showed how far their superior talent can take them with an equal amount of want-to.
"They never stopped believing in themselves, and each other, and really found a way to battle back," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
UCLA faces Arizona at 6 tonight in a semifinal.
The Bruins out-rebounded ASU by 10 in the second frame after losing the battle by one in the first.
"In the first half I thought we played hard, but in the second half we really turned it up, and it really had good karma for us," forward Shabazz Muhammad, a Las Vegan, said. "We just went down and really rebounded the ball."
The Bruins trailed by eight with 7:46 to go when Muhammad scored the next six points.
"I thought Shabazz did a fantastic job taking the game over, especially scoring inside," Howland said of the forward, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds."
The Pac-12's co-Freshman of the Year made a tip-in and two layups to pull within one.
"Muhammad really was a difference-maker down the home stretch, especially with his rebounding," ASU coach Herb Sendek said.
With 4:58 to play, Larry Drew II - who scored a team-best 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting - made a three-pointer to give the Bruins their first lead since UCLA was up 7-5.
ASU whiz Jahii Carson was one of two dominant Sun Devils on Thursday. Center Jordan Bachynski had 22 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes, one day after playing only eight.
Carson, a freshman point guard, scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He tied the game at 72 with a jump shot and watched as teammate Evan Gordon made two free throws with 1:43 left to go up 74-72.
UCLA forward Travis Wear, who had missed the Bruins' previous two games against ASU, matched Gordon with two of his own.
Gordon made one free throw with 1:19 to go, but two jumpers by Wear gave the Bruins a three-point edge with 12 seconds to play.
With the clock running out, Carson drove the right side of the lane and kicked the ball to forward Jonathan Gilling, whose three-point attempt rimmed out with five seconds left.
"I just felt like he had the better opportunity than me," Carson said. "Catching it off the pass is a lot easier than off the dribble."
On the court, the 24-8 Bruins might be inconsistent, but they're dangerous.
"When the lights come on and it's do or die," Drew said, "we tend to show up."
Contact reporter Patrick Finley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley