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Arizona 70, UCLA 64

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Updated 10 months ago on
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LAS VEGAS — While fifth-ranked Arizona bolstered its hopes for a No. 1 seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament, UCLA’s at-large hopes might have taken a final, fatal hit.

Forward Brandon Ashley scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Wildcats back from a seven-point second-half deficit as they reached the Pac-12 championship game with a 70-64 decision over UCLA on Friday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Ashley made 9 of 11 shots, including three in a game-changing 15-0 run. He capped it with a fall-away jumper from the left wing with 7:02 left, giving Arizona (30-3) a 55-47 advantage.

Freshman forward Stanley Johnson added 15 points for the Wildcats, and guard T.J. McConnell finished with 10 points and 11 assists, canning two free throws with 19.0 seconds left to make it a four-point margin.

Arizona will play No. 17 Utah or Oregon Saturday night in the title game.

Guard Norman Powell tallied 21 points for the Bruins (20-13), who will have to sweat it out until Sunday to see whether they earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Center Tony Parker netted 15 and guard Bryce Alford scored 10 points, but made only 3 of 12 shots from the field.

The Wildcats canned 10 of 12 free throws in the final 3:45 to hold UCLA off. With expected top seed Virginia losing in the ACC semifinals, Arizona might have improved its chances of earning a No. 1 seed.

Arizona came out locked in, ripping off an 11-2 run to open the game as UCLA went 1 for 6 with two air balls in the first 4:33. The Bruins also saw guard Isaac Hamilton and Parker draw two fouls before the first TV timeout.

But the Wildcats fell into a deep funk, managing just two buckets in the next 10 1/2 minutes and going nine possessions without scoring at one point. UCLA got six points from Hamilton and grabbed an 18-16 lead on two free throws by Parker with 5:48 remaining.

However, Hamilton and Parker each picked up his third foul, and both had to sit out the remainder of the half. Arizona regained a five-point lead, but Alford’s steal and pull-up 3-pointer just before time expired tied the score at 27 at halftime.

NOTES: UCLA F Kevon Looney started, wearing a shield over his eyes and nose, after taking a shot to his face in Thursday’s 96-70 rout of USC and leaving the game early. … Arizona entered the game ranked second in Division I in free throw makes (579) and attempts (827). … Bruins G Isaac Hamilton’s 36-point outburst against USC was the first time a UCLA player notched at least 35 points in a game since Dijon Thompson netted 39 against Arizona State on Feb. 10, 2005.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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