Men: Arizona 66, UCLA 58
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - On a day when they weren't necessarily at their best, the Arizona Wildcats were gritty and opportunistic enough to move on in the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament at the Staples Center.
A big day at the free-throw line helped to propel the Wildcats to a 66-58 win over UCLA and into Friday's semifinal at 6 p.m. against Oregon State, who knocked off top-seeded Washington earlier in the day.
Arizona withstood a pair of UCLA charges, including watching the Bruins assume a slim second-half lead, before the Wildcats went back in front and stayed there thanks to strong shooting at the free-throw line.
Arizona (22-10) was 31 of 36 from the line, which made up for shooting less than 35 percent from the floor for the game. The Wildcats were 24 of 27 from the stripe in the second half to keep UCLA at bay.
Solomon Hill led Arizona with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Jesse Perry added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Fogg pitched in 13 points.
Arizona won despite being outscored in the paint 36-19 and committing 19 turnovers.
"The thing I was most proud of is that we were very tough-minded. We were very good on defense and that has been our identity all season long," said Arizona coach Sean Miller. "We hope to be here again tomorrow night as a winner. The objective in March is to keep winning and don't stop and hopefully tonight is the first of a couple more."
UCLA (19-14) got 17 points from guard Lazeric Jones and 14 from guard Jerime Anderson. The Bruins were hampered by foul trouble in the post.
UCLA saw two of its top interior players - Joshua Smith and Travis Wear - foul out.
Arizona went into the locker room with a 29-23 lead after UCLA rallied from 10 points down in the first half to get within 24-23 with 1:35 to go on a basket by Travis Wear.
UCLA grabbed the lead back briefly in the second half, Tyler Lamb getting a steal and layup to put UCLA up 46-45 with 8:06 to go.
"We had the ball with the game tied. We had other opportunities where we didn't take advantage of it," said UCLA coach Ben Howland. "There are just a bunch of plays we'd like to have back."
The momentum didn't last long. And Arizona choked off a Bruins comeback at the line, making 7 of 8 shots from the free-throw line in the final three minutes to seal the win.
"We played 18 regular-season games, and I believe we had the most free throws," Miller said. "We do it by driving, by negating size with quickness. It was a big factor in the game. These guys attacked the basket the right way."