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Cats Race Past UCLA, 84-72
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/14/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 14, 2009

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TUCSON--Arizona withstood a late run from the No. 11-ranked UCLA to make its own statement in winning Saturday in McKale Center, 84-72, to break a three-year drought against the Bruins.

Nic Wise scored 26 and Jordan Hill 22 to lead the Cats, to overshadow 26 from UCLA's Darren Collison and 18 by Josh Shipp. Hill added his 15th double-double with a game-high 13 rebounds. UA also had double figures by Chase Budinger with 17 and Zane Johnson with 11.

The Cats scored only 11 points in the final nine minutes of play but had built an insurmountable lead, 73-48, with defense, rebounding and shooting.

The victory, the Cats' seventh consecutive, improved UA to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in Pac-10 Play. UCLA, which entered the weekend in first place but dropped both on its Arizona swing, fell to 19-6 and 8-4, sliding into no better than second place depending on ASU's (8-4) game Sunday against USC.

It was Arizona's first victory over UCLA since February 2005. Moreover, it built UA's so-called body of work into an NCAA-attractive stretch drive as a hot team and actually kept the Cats in the running for top honors in the Pac-10. UA has games remaining against Washington and ASU, two teams ahead of it in the standings.

The UCLA spurt made what could have been a blowout into a jittery affair for a crowd of 14,611.

Arizona squandered a 25-point lead and entered the final minute of play with a nine-point margin, with the Bruins charging. But late free throws from Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nice Wise helped give UA 26 points from the line and some at the right moments.

The No. 11 Bruins built a 24-8 run from the nine-minute mark to erase the huge lead.

UA held UCLA to 49 percent shooting and only nine points from the line, plus outrebounded the Bruins, 34-37. The Cats shot an even 50 percent from the field, but made seven of 16 three-pointers and dropped 23 of 30 from the line.

UCLA came out of the locker room after the half and appeared more focused, making up some ground with Josh Shipp scoring nine of the Bruins' 11 points in four minutes to help trim the lead to 14 points, 56-42, at the first media timeout at 16:07. UA had three turnovers in the span.

But Jordan Hill flushed an offensive rebound on a break, and UA took advantage of a UCLA turnover with Chase Budinger banking in a shot, and UA led by 18 again, 60-42, inside the 14-minute mark.

Nic Wise dropped in a jumper and the Cats led by 20 at 12:23. After a James Keefe jumper for UCLA, Wise pulled an acrobatic move inside for an old-fashioned three-point play and the Cats had their biggest lead, 65-44 with just under 12 minutes to play.

For a moment. Wise made a breakaway layup after a UCLA turnover to put the Cats up by 23.

A pair of double fouls were called -- on Hill and Drew Gordon, and on UA's Alex Jacobson and Gordon -- stalling play for a bit. The Bruins got buckets from Gordona and Alfred Aboya, but UA had some free throws from Wise and Jamelle Horne to keep going in the scoring column. and a Hill put-back put Arizona up by 25 with just under 10 minutes left.

The Bruins made it interesting, and then some. UCLA scored 13 unanswered points with a Darren Collison jumper, three free throws by Nikola Dragovic, a Collinson three, a jumper by Aboya and a Collison three to cut Arizona's lead to 12 points at the 6:33 mark. UA had three turnovers plus fouled a three-point shooter in the span.

A pair of free throws by Wise stopped the glut, but Collison stuck a three-pointer to keep UCLA within distance at 75-64 and UCLA called time out at 4:58.

Arizona got a pair of free throws from Budinger and a layup from Wise to keep active in the next minute and led 79-65 with 3:49 to go. But a Collison three-pointer 20 seconds later made it close to a single-digit lead.

FIRST HALF:

Collison hit a three to open the scoring 12 seconds in, but Wise answered with a drive to the basket, and a moment later UA got a steal and layup from Budinger to take a 4-3 lead. Zane Johnson followed with an offensive rebound and basket to put UA up 6-3.

A UCLA quick 9-2 run put the Bruins ahead, 12-8, by the first media timeout. Josh Shipp hit a bucket for UCLA, Jordan Hill knocked down a pair of free throws for Arizona, and Alfred Aboya's turnaround pulled UCLA within one. The Bruins got three-pointers from Aboya and Collison after two UA fouls, and then a steal and dunk from Collison.

Budinger dropped in a trey, but the Bruins got a fastbreak dunk from Aboya to stay up by three. On the next possession, Wise hit a layup and was fouled, making the free throw to tie the game, 14-14, at the 14:28 mark.

Johnson dropped in a three to give UA its second lead, and after Kyle Fogg stole the inbounds pass and was fouled shooting, made the second shot for an 18-16 Arizona edge.

Hill got two offensive rebounds and made the second tip and Arizona had a 20-16 lead at 13:02. Jrue Holiday and Hill traded inside moves to keep UA up by four, but UCLA's Michael Roll dropped in a three to cut it to two points.

A 7-2 Arizona run pushed up back in front. Budinger beat the shot clock with a three to put UA back up by four, 27-23, and after a UCLA turnover the Cats got a put-back dunk from Hill and Bruins coach Ben Howland called time out with UA leading 29-23 at the 9:47 mark.

The Cats made it a 12-2 spurt. The Bruins lost a possession on a shot-clock violation and Wise made them pay with another three-pointer. After a Roll missed three, Hill took it to the basket and was fouled and made both bonus shots to put UA up 34-23 at 8:14.

UA closed the half with another scoring edge Wise got a steal -- UCLA's ninth turnover to that point -- and made a breakaway layup, but UCLA finally answered with a Nikola Dragovic three to cut the lead to 10 points, 36-36.

The Bruins got an Aboya leaner, but Fogg stuck a trey to answer. Howland called another time with the clock at 6:08. The Bruins responded with a Holiday jumper. UA pushed it back to a 13-point margin with a pair of free throws by Jamelle Horne.

The Cats raced to a 13-3 edge in the final five and a half minutes to put UCLA's focus in question.

Horne was fouled by Dragovic trying to dunk on a breakaway but missed two free throws that would have given UA its biggest lead. At the other end, though, UCLA turned it over for the 12th time and Hill hit a turnaround jumper to do it, putting the Cats up 43-28.

Shipp silenced the crowd some with a three-pointer, trimming the lead to a dozen, but a minute later Johnson knocked one down from beyond the arc and Arizona was up 15 again, 46-31, at the 1:59 mark.

Johnson stuck a dagger in the Bruins with another three after UCLA's 13th turnover. Improbably, the Bruins turned it over another time. Budinger's driving bank shot as the half ended didn't go down.

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