UCLA basketball: Inspired effort leads Bruins to 71-49 victory over Arizona in final game before Pauley Pavilion renovations
In a memorable send-off of its basketball home of 46 years, UCLA overwhelmed No. 10 Arizona with an inspired start-to-finish effort Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion during a 71-49 victory. It was the last men's basketball game in the facility before it closes for renovations and reopens in the fall of 2012.
The Bruins (21-8), who are now tied with the Wildcats (23-6) for first in the Pacific 10 Conference at 12-4, broke open a one-point game with a 22-2 run to close the first half and start the second, taking a 51-30 lead on a pair of free throws by Reeves Nelson. The sophomore forward, who had logged a double-double by halftime, finished with a career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds to go with three assists.
Nelson also played commendable defense on Arizona's Derrick Williams, holding the sophomore forward to two points in the second half after Williams had 13 at halftime. Williams scored his only basket of the second half with 4 minutes 36 seconds remaining, cutting Arizona's deficit to 57-48 and prompting chants of "U of A!" from the pockets of Wildcats fans.
But UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith scored on a tip-in and fed Nelson for a three-point play after Nelson was fouled on a layup to restore the Bruins' lead to a comfortable margin. Fans stood for the final 2:17 after Nelson secured a rebound, engaging in one final extended celebration.
In a fitting final tribute, UCLA walk-on Tyler Trapani, John Wooden's great-grandson, scored the last basket at Pauley on a putback underneath the basket.
Smith had 17 points for UCLA, which shot 53.8% to Arizona's 31.5% and held a 40-26 rebounding edge.
We'll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Ben Bolch
Photo: UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt throws down a dunk against Arizona on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire