UA scouting report: Arizona (30-3) vs UCLA (25-8); TV: Fox Sports 1; radio: 1290-AM
G T.J. McConnell (6-1 junior)
G Gabe York (6-3 sophomore)
F Nick Johnson (6-3 junior)
F Aaron Gordon (6-9 freshman)
C Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 sophomore)
G Norman Powell (6-4 junior)
G Jordan Adams (6-5 sophomore)
G Kyle Anderson (6-9 sophomore)
F David Wear (6-10 senior)
F Travis Wear (6-10 senior)
How they match up
How they got here: UCLA finished in second place in the Pac-12 with a record of 12-6 and, like the Wildcats, coasted through their first two Pac-12 tournament games. The Bruins beat Oregon 82-63 in the quarterfinals and Stanford 84-59 in the semifinals on Friday.
The season series: Thanks to the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule, the Bruins and Wildcats met only at Pauley Pavilion during the regular season, and the
UA squeaked out a 79-75 victory on
Jan. 9, going ahead for good after Nick Johnson nailed a floater in the lane with 1:27 left.
What’s new with the Bruins: UCLA lost three of five to finish out the regular season, including a head-scratcher at Washington State on March 8, but one of the losses was at Stanford, and another came against Oregon when leading scorers Anderson and Jordan Adams were suspended. The Bruins avenged that loss to Oregon on Thursday, crushing the Ducks 82-63.
The versatile sophomore point guard, who beat out T.J. McConnell and others to become a finalist for the Bob Cousy point guard of the year award, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against UA in January. That’s hardly unusual.
The Wildcats often follow the lead of their junior guard’s intensity, and there’s no doubt Johnson will be fired up today, after having been a part of a disappointing Pac-12 tournament final loss (to Colorado in 2011-12) and semifinal loss (to UCLA last season).
Arizona fans weren’t the only ones disappointed that UCLA didn’t come to McKale Center this season because of the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule.
So were the Bruins.
“We missed going to Arizona, because that’s a really fun environment to play in,” UCLA forward David Wear said. “We’re looking forward to getting another crack at them.”
Then again, the revenge motive can be spun two ways: Although the Wildcats beat UCLA in January this season, it was the Bruins who ousted the Wildcats from the Pac-12 tournament semifinals last season.
And for UCLA guard Jordan Adams,
that semifinal game last year was also
the one in which he broke his foot, which led to UA getting a preferential NCAA
tournament placement over the Bruins, who lost their first NCAA tournament game.
“It was tough, but we feel this year they’re a new team, and we’re a new team,” Adams said. “They’re playing well, and we’re playing well. So we’re excited to see what happens.”
In both look and volume, the crowd for Friday’s sold-out semifinal wasn’t a whole lot different than the Arizona Wildcats’ experience at home.
In the 12,916-seat Grand Garden, at least two-third of the fans were rooting for the Wildcats, and UA coach Sean Miller noticed.
His entire team noticed.
“It’s like we’re playing in McKale right now; our fans are so amazing,” Miller said. “They’ve traveled everywhere in this country to watch us this year. We felt them in New York City. We felt them in Michigan. We felt them in San Diego really early on (a Nov. 14 game at San Diego State University), and many of our Pac-12 stops they’ve been there.
“Right now, in Vegas, they’re in full force. I believe we feed off of them.”
Jordin Mayes may have had an up-and-down career at Arizona, but he’s been at his most reliable in the postseason.
He has averaged six points in 11.5 minutes over two Pac-12 tournament games so far, adding two rebounds and an assist to his six points Friday.
“I’m gonna go out there and play my hardest,” Mayes said. “It felt real good. I got a little rhythm and took open shots.”
3 Appearances in the Pac-12 tournament championship game for Arizona in the past four seasons
4 Straight wins by Arizona over
27.6 Percent shooting Arizona has given up in two Pac-12 tournament games this season
Compiled by Bruce Pascoe