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Purposeful Cats’ first-half ‘chaos’ disrupts Bruins

Citizen Staff Writer



One streak continues for the University of Arizona men’s basketball team while another one ended.

The Wildcats defeated visiting No. 11 UCLA 84-72 at McKale Center on Saturday, extending their winning streak to seven games, the longest streak since the 2006-07 season when they won 12 straight.

The win ended the Bruins’ eight-game winning streak against UA.

Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell said playing teams like UCLA “brings out the best in you.”

And that’s how Arizona played in perhaps its best start-to-finish effort all season.

“We came out with a real purpose, on point from the time the ball was tipped off,” Pennell said. “I was proud of the effort and the mindset that we had, especially (compared with) how we played them the first time.”

UA suffered its worst loss of the season last month to the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion, 83-60. Saturday’s game was UCLA’s worst loss this year.

“I think we’ve found ourselves as a team,” said UA’s Chase Budinger. “It took us a while to get to this point, but it’s really paying off.”

As has been the case in many of UA’s games this year, there was some drama at the end. The Wildcats had a 25-point lead – 73-48 – with 10 minutes left. But the Bruins closed to within single digits (81-72) before UA regained control in the final minute.

Guard Nic Wise, for the second consecutive game, was remarkable, scoring 26 points. Forward Jordan Hill added 22.

“I’m just more confident,” Wise said. “The way we’ve been playing as of late has been suiting my game. I have much more freedom, similar to coach (Lute) Olson’s style, the way he had his point guards playing.”

UA is 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the Pac-10 after sweeping the two southern California schools at home for the first time since 2005.

The Bruins had no answer for Wise or Hill. Wise went 9 for 13 from the floor, while Hill shot 8 for 14.

UCLA is 19-6 overall and 8-4 in the conference.

It was a game of runs for UA, the most impressive coming late in the first half when it went on a 12-0 run to take a 36-23 lead.

“We got after it from the start,” Budinger said. “We tried to trap and create chaos for them. It bothered them and we were able to get turnovers in the first half.”

UCLA jumped out to a 12-8 lead behind Darren Collison’s eight points. Collison ended up with 26 points.

From there, however, the Wildcats took over, outscoring the Bruins 12-4 to take the lead for good.

The closest the Bruins got was 24-23 with 11:07 left in the half, but that’s when UA went on its big run.

The Wildcats ended the half with a 49-31 lead.

Purposeful Cats’ first-half ‘chaos’ disrupts Bruins

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