The UCLA Bruins took on the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats with very few people believing that Steve Alford’s squad would have a chance against the Wildcats who have defeated talented college basketball teams like the San Diego State Aztecs, Michigan Wolverines and Duke Blue Devils. However, the Bruins gave the Wildcats everything they could handle, as UCLA nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the season.
Going on a 13 – 0 run late in the contest, UCLA tied the game up with under three minutes to go and took the lead off of a Bryce Alford free throw, but couldn’t handle the outstanding play of Arizona forward Nick Johnson. Johnson’s 22 points led to the Wildcats holding off the Bruins 79 – 75 and brings UCLA’s record to 12 – 3.
UCLA will be disappointed not to win its biggest game of the season, but the close game should give it a lot of confidence going forward in PAC-12 play. The Bruins do not have to play a team of Arizona’s caliber for the remainder of the regular season and, if they can play the No. 1 team in college basketball as close as they did, they will be able to beat enough top PAC-12 opposition to cruise into the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
After their non-conference losses to arguably the best teams that they played all season long, the Missouri Tigers and Duke, UCLA needs a marquee win for its 2014 NCAA Tournament hopes to become a reality. Look for the Bruins to get that win in a few games against the Colorado Buffaloes or the Oregon Ducks.