LOS ANGELES -- The Arizona Wildcats mowed down UCLA’s high-flying defense for 35 minutes and held off a late Bruins charge to stay undefeated tonight in a 79-75 win at Pauley Pavilion.
The win moved Arizona to 16-0, tying the Wildcats’ school record for best start that was set in 1931-32. It also snapped Arizona’s three-game losing streak to UCLA, including a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game last season.
Nick Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring with 22 points, while center Kaleb Tarczewski had 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting.
Arizona held UCLA to exactly 40 percent from the field, while making leading scorer Jordan Adams work hard for his 12 points -- doing so on 4-for-15 shooting. Kyle Anderson led the Bruins with 16 points and six assists.
After UCLA put together a 15-2 run to tie the game at 68, the game suddenly became a nail-biter.
Arizona led 73-70 going into the final minute and Tarczewski hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 74-70 with 50 seconds left. T.J. McConnell then made another two free throws with 34 seconds left to put UA up by six and the Wildcats held on from there.
Johnson made a free throw to give UA a 77-72 lead but a three-pointer by UCLA's Zach LaVine with 15 seconds left cut it to three. The Bruins then fouled Gabe York, who went to the line with 12.7 seconds left and hit both ensuing free throws to make it 79-75 and the a final three from LaVine missed.
The win moved Arizona to 3-0 in the Pac-12, and the Wildcats will have two days to prepare for a Sunday matchup at USC before returning home next week.
UCLA dropped to 12-3 overall and 1-1.
The Wildcats built their lead as high as 13 points in the second half before UCLA went on a 9-2 run to cut it to 68-62 with 3:29 left. The run became 15-2 when Jordan Adams hit a three-pointer in transition, tying the game at 68 with 2:14 left.
Johnson later hit a floater to put UA up 71-70 and Aaron Gordon made 2 of 2 free throws to give the Wildcats a three-point lead heading into the final minute.
The Wildcats expanded a four-point halftime lead to 58-48 with 12 minutes to go, by going on a 10-2 run. By that point, Arizona had outrebounded UCLA 7-4 in the second half so far and held the Bruins to 4-10 shooting.
With 7:36 to go, Arizona led 64-54, having held UCLA to 33.3-percent shooting in the second half to that point.
In the first half, Arizona held UCLA to just 38.9-percent shooting while taking a 42-38 halftime lead tonight at Pauley Pavilion.
Johnson led the Wildcats in the half with 10 points while guard Gabe York added nine points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting and Kaleb Tarczewski added another nine points.
The Wildcats had eight first-half turnovers and were outrebounded 20-19 in the first half but held UCLA under 40-percent shooting overall and only 1 of 6 from three-point range. Adams was held to just three points on 1-for-6 shooting by the Wildcats, who often switched defenders on the Bruins' top scorers.
UCLA went on a 17-9 run in the middle of the first half to take a 31-29 lead with 3:49 left in first. At that point, the Wildcats had eight turnovers and UCLA was outrebounding them 15-14. The lead switched hands often over the final minutes of the half.
Arizona coughed up four turnovers over the first four minutes of the game, leading to six UCLA points, but trailed the Bruins only 10-9 at the first media timeout. The Wildcats then went ahead 16-12 when York hit the game’s first three pointer.
At the 11:04 mark, UA held UCLA to just 35-percent shooting and the Bruins were 0-4 from three-point range.