Tucson, AZ — The Arizona Wildcats got a huge win at home, defeating the UCLA Bruins 76-66 and moving into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 standings. Kerr Kriisa led all players with 16 points. Jules Bernard scored 15 for UCLA.
Arizona (18-2, 8-1 Pac-12) is led by Bennedict Mathurin. He is averaging 17.2 points per game and continues to make a strong case as a potential top-10 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Wildcats entered tonight trailing only UCLA in the conference standings and are currently projected as a No. 3 seed in March Madness.
Despite the loss, the Bruins (16-3, 8-2 Pac-12) have positioned themselves as a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Junior wing Johnny Juzang leads the team with 18.1 points per game on 39.5% shooting from behind the arc. Bernard and Jaime Jaquez Jr. have also played well, combining for 25.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest.
The teams traded leads for the first five minutes, but Arizona would go on a 12-0 run over the next seven minutes to stretch the lead to 28-14. The Wildcats took a 42-30 lead into the break behind 11 points from Kriisa and 10 from Azuolas Tubelis. Mathurin also had 6 points, 5 rebounds and a steal and a block each. UCLA’s Bernard led all players with 12 points at half, and Jaquez and Cody Riley had 6 points each.
Juzang got started early in the second half with three buckets in the first four minutes. At the 10:01 mark, the Wildcats maintained a 61-51 lead, but David Singleton went to work. Singleton and Jaquez cut the lead to 64-61 at 3:54.
Kriisa connected on a huge triple at 1:52 to make it 70-61 and seemingly put this one out of reach. Kriisa and Pelle Larsson would then connect on a pair of free-throws, and the home team held on from there for the victory.
Tubelis ended with 14 points on 6 of 9 from the field. Larsson scored 12 points in a strong performance off the bench. Juzang posted 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Riley ended with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
UCLA will visit Arizona State on Saturday night.
Arizona hosts USC on Saturday.
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