CBKB: UCLA defeats Arizona 75-69 in Pac-10 tourney
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES — Michael Roll scored 19 points, Reeves Nelson added 18 and UCLA held off Arizona 75-69 Thursday in a Pac-10 Conference tournament quarterfinal between two powerhouses that once ruled the league but have struggled this season.
The entire conference has fallen down nationally, and after getting six teams into the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons, the Pac-10 will be fighting to have two this time.
No schools better illustrate the league’s current woes than Arizona and UCLA, which have won a combined seven Pac-10 tourney titles, with the Wildcats taking four in a row during one stretch.
Instead of playing for another title, though, the fourth-seeded Wildcats and No. 5 Bruins were relegated to an afternoon quarterfinal game in a half-empty Staples Center that had more Arizona fans than those rooting for the local Bruins.
Comedian Bill Murray, sporting a red visor over his spiky white hair, was among the Wildcat boosters; his son Luke is a graduate assistant on coach Sean Miller’s staff.
Nelson grabbed 11 rebounds as the gritty heart-and-soul of the Bruins, which he’s been all season. Wearing protective glasses, he played for the first time since missing the previous four games with a slight retinal tear in his left eye. Nikola Dragovic also scored 18 points.
Nic Wise scored 16 points and Derrick Williams added 14 for Arizona (16-15), which lost in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year. The Wildcats salvaged NCAA tournament appearances both times, extending their nation’s best streak to 25 straight years. That will end this season, although their winning record could land them in the NIT.
The Bruins (14-17) still have a shot at trying to improve what is their worst record since 2003-04, coach Ben Howland’s first season in Westwood. They advanced to a semifinal Friday against the winner of the game between top-seeded California and No. 8 Oregon.
Arizona got to 58-55 with 7:52 remaining on two free throws by Solomon Hill. But the Bruins kept making free throws and Malcolm Lee hit a big 3-pointer to push their lead to 64-57 with 5› minutes left.
The Wildcats played catch-up the entire game, and trailed 37-33 at halftime.