UCLA basketball fans can get their calendars out now.
NIT first-round games are March 13 and 14 – Loyola Marymount in a rematch? April 11 will be national letter-of-intent signing day, and Shabazz Muhammad – considered the best high school player in the nation – has UCLA as one of his final schools.
California came to the Sports Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday and cleared UCLA’s schedule with a 73-63 victory.
“It was disappointing, obviously,” senior guard Jerime Anderson said. “We saw where we could have been and where we are now.”
Where the Bruins are now is 14-11 overall and 7-6 in Pac-12 Conference play after being thoroughly handled by the Bears (20-6, 10-3). UCLA added some cosmetic touches after falling behind, 64-47, with 8:42 left, but Cal players were hardly worried.
“We kept our cool,” forward Robert Thurman said. “We knew we had it under control.”
The victory kept the Bears in first place and California probably has done enough to earn an NCAA at-large bid.
UCLA, on the other hand, will need to win the Pac-12 tournament to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Saturday’s game was another indication how difficult a task that will be for the Bruins.
The Bears were patient and efficient, shooting 51.9 percent from the field to sweep the Bruins in the regular season for the first time since 1993-94. Justin Cobbs scored 18 points, Allen Crabbe 14 and Jorge Gutierrez 13.
The numbers on the other side were equally telling. UCLA shot 39.7 percent and had a season-low seven assists, none in the first half.
Arizona 70, Utah 61: Nick Johnson hit a 3-pointer with just over a minute left and had 18 points, Kyle Fogg added 17 points and the Wildcats (18-8, 9-4) overcame an ugly first half to beat the Utes (5-11, 2-11) at Tucson, Ariz.
Coming off three solid wins, Arizona came out flat against Utah, falling into a 13-point first-half hole.
The Wildcats rallied in the second half behind the 3-point shooting of Fogg and Brendon Lavender, then held on after Johnson’s 3-pointer to win their fourth straight game. Solomon Hill had 14 points and Lavender hit four 3-pointers for all of his 12 points.
Utah hit 9 of 18 from the arc.
Colorado 63, Arizona State 49: Spencer Dinwiddie scored all 15 points in the second half and the Buffaloes routed the Sun Devils at Tempe, Ariz.
Andre Roberson and Austin Dufault added 12 points apiece for the Buffaloes (17-8, 9-4 Pac 12), who won their third straight game against the Sun Devils (8-17, 4-9) and have won three of four overall.
Jonathan Gilling scored 11 points and Trent Lockett added 10 for Arizona State, which has lost three of four and eight of its last 11.