LAS VEGAS – As if the game weren’t entertainment enough, Arizona coach Sean Miller threw out a sufficient amount of sound bites in his postgame press conference to assure that video of it might thrive on YouTube for the foreseeable future.
The Wildcats lost a tough one to conference champion UCLA, 66-64, in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Friday night. The Bruins (25-8) face third-seed Oregon in the championship game tonight at 8.
The final score was 66-64, Miller said, because of the technical foul he was assessed after a particularly sketchy double-dribble call inside the final 5 minutes with Arizona leading by two points. Point guard Mark Lyons dribbled into the lane, had the ball swiped at by a Bruins defender, but was called for a double-dribble because the officials determined that he picked up his dribble and continued again without an opponent touching it.
Jordan Adams made both technical free throws to tie the game with 4:37 to play.
The final score was 66-64, and Miller gave them two points, he said, and said, and said, noting that fact no fewer than five times.
“The reason I got a technical foul was because I said he touched the ball,” Miller said, and he said he touched the ball, too. “He touched the ball. Like, in other words, Mark Lyons dribbled, and by the way, when they show the replay here on ESPN in a few seconds, he touched the ball. They touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball.”
Miller also made sure to credit the Bruins, who erased an 11-point deficit behind the toughness and scoring ability of freshman guard Adams, who led all scorers with 24 points and made 11 of his 13 free-throw attempts.
But that story doesn’t have a happy ending for the Bruins, or Adams: He suffered a broken foot in the game’s final seconds, and will miss the rest of the season.
To illustrate how much Adams’ loss means, picture UCLA guard Larry Drew II in the locker room afterward, sobbing and wiping away tears as he processed the news of Adams’ injury.
“It’s tough, you know, but there’s something about this team that we find ways to make things happen when it seems like all is lost and things are getting lost – not to say that everything’s lost right now,” said Drew, who was held scoreless in 37 minutes as Arizona focused on not letting him beat them. “For one, we’re so proud of Jordan. Not for the way he played tonight, but everything that he’s done all season. I just wish him a speedy recovery.”
Arizona (25-7) led 49-38 with 10 minutes to play, thanks in part to the play of freshman forward Brandon Ashley. He led the Wildcats with 15 points.
But it was UCLA’s freshmen who helped steal the show down the stretch. Adams and Shabazz Muhammad, who had 11 points and was held largely in check, combined for a quick 9-0 run and cut Arizona’s lead to 49-47.
Adams scored UCLA’s next 11 that included the two technicals.
Muhammad was fouled and made two free throws with 3:11 remaining to give the Bruins their first lead of the second half, and after Ashley tied the game with a jumper, Travis Wear was fouled and made two free throws, then Adams made another pair with 1:13 left to give UCLA a 64-61 lead.
Grant Jerrett ended Arizona’s next possession with a game-tying 3-pointer. Adams attempted a 3 on the other end and missed, but another UCLA freshman, Kyle Anderson, snagged the rebound and put the ball in the basket with 22.1 seconds left.
That provided the final margin as Solomon Hill missed an 18-footer in the final seconds.
Oregon 64, Utah 45: The Ducks led 29-15 at halftime, and the Utes never recovered as Oregon wore them down defensively to advance to today’s championship game.
After beating Oregon to end the regular season, the Utes struggled to get anything going offensively, making just six field goals in the first half while committing eight turnovers.
Damyean Dotson and E.J. Singler led Oregon with 14 points apiece.