Jerime Anderson puts up a final shot for a tie over UA's Josiah Turner (11), but it clanged off the rim, giving Arizona the two-point victory.


The play had worked before.

Ben Howland was betting it would again.

UCLA inbounded the ball with seven seconds left Saturday at McKale Center, needing to go the length of the floor to negate a two-point deficit.

Howland called in a set that had already been successful.

Senior guard Jerime Anderson, who had made 8 of 15 shots at the time, held the ball on the right wing, extended from the elbow of the key.

Lazeric Jones, only 1 of 12 on the day, ran past him, and Anderson faked a handoff.

He kept the ball, and for a split-second, could have tried an open three-pointer.

"It woulda been a better shot," he said.

Instead, Anderson hesitated, and finally fired a shot from one step inside the three-point line that clanged off the rim.

"He had a good look at it," forward Travis Wear said.

Time expired to give the Arizona Wildcats a 65-63 victory, keeping alive their NCAA tournament at-large selection hopes, and handing UCLA its fifth conference road loss by seven points or fewer.

"That was my fault," Howland said. "It just wasn't there."

The Bruins were fortunate to have the chance. They hadn't played against a man-to-man defense in two weeks, and Howland said they "weren't quite as sharp as we needed to be."

The Wildcats led by six with 53 seconds left but missed three free throws and committed a turnover to allow the Bruins to close to within three points.

With 10 seconds to play, the UA elected to foul rather than give the Bruins a clean look at a three-pointer. It was the UA's sixth team foul, so UCLA took the ball out of bounds. One second later, Arizona fouled Anderson, who made two free throws.

"I don't want a team to make a three to tie the game against us," Miller said. "I want to lose the other way. And we almost did."

Senior guard Kyle Fogg made one of two free throws, setting up the last possession.

UCLA chose to keep center Josh Smith on the bench on the last series.

Miller said that, "for the most part," the UA defended "very, very well" in the final minute.

Anderson's 20 points were no consolation.

"I could care less if I scored 40 points," he said. "I just want to get the 'W.' That's the only stat that matters."

Tournament team?

With talk of the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament only increasing with Saturday's win, UCLA players were asked if the UA deserved to make the Big Dance.

"I think so," Wear said. "They're a pretty good team."

Bruins wing Tyler Lamb thought the Wildcats were "definitely" deserving.

"I think we have a couple teams in our conference that are capable of doing good in the tournament," he said.

Anderson, though, wasn't sure how many Pac-12 teams would get in.

"I'm not the one that makes the brackets or anything like that," he said. "Just looking at being realistic compared to everything else that's going on in the nation, I don't know how many tournament teams we have in the Pac-12.

"But they're a really good team. We took a loss to them today."

Rim shots

• Senior Alex Jacobson logged two first-half minutes against the gigantic Smith, fouling the center within a minute of entering the game.

Miller said he "wanted to give Alex a chance to play" in his last home game because "he deserved it."

Kyryl Natyazhko was no longer suspended but did not play because of a coach's decision.

Miller said he needed Jacobson's beef.

"I think he did right what he was supposed to do," he said. "He fouled him."

• Jordin Mayes did not play Saturday after participating in the final minutes of Thursday's blowout of USC. Miller said to expect to see the sophomore guard more, especially after another full week of practice.

"I think Jordin, from this point forward, you can count on more," he said.

• Lamb agreed with the premise the Bruins lack a "closer," or player to take clutch shots in the final minutes.

"With us not having a closer like that, we just go to pretty much whatever, our senior guards, or go inside," he said. "It is tough sometimes when you don't have a player that can just close out the game."