Going into the matchup on Friday against Arizona, UCLA basketball was one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball. The Bruins looked ready to win the Pac-12 tournament after an undefeated February and a nine game winning streak. That winning streak included convincing wins over the best teams in the conference in Arizona and Oregon.
Friday night, UCLA looked like a completely different team. One of the biggest reasons for their recent success was the improvement of their defense, which was nowhere to be seen this time around. Arizona scored 86 points while shooting 50% from the field and 50% from three. In comparison, in the game that UCLA won the Wildcats only had 72 points.
Leading the way for Arizona was freshman Lauri Markkanen with 29 points and Allonzo Trier with 20 points. For the entirety of the game, the Bruins simply had no answer for either of them.
While the stars showed up to play for Arizona, they definitely didn’t for the Bruins. Lonzo Ball only had 8 points and 6 assists. He was outplayed by Trier for the whole game and Ball didn’t look like the player that he normally is. Ball also had four turnovers and he only shot 1-6 from three-point territory. Bryce Alford also struggled offensively only scoring five points on 2-12 from the field and 1-10 from three. It’s extremely hard to win any game when two of your best scorers and players simply can’t get any shots to go down.
One of the bright spots for UCLA individually was senior Isaac Hamilton. Hamilton scored 20 points on 7-13 shooting. He looked like the only one that was ready to play and capable of handling the moment. The game before, against USC, Hamilton also had a great game with 22 points. Often an afterthought on this UCLA team, it’s good that he is playing with a lot of confidence right now. Last year’s leading scorer will be much needed in the postseason.
As a team, UCLA shot 40% for the game and an atrocious 16% from three. UCLA also had 14 turnovers as a team and only 16 assists.
Although this is just one game, it should still be very concerning for UCLA. The Bruins had all the momentum in the world going into March Madness and now that all seems to be gone. UCLA will still have a high seed, but they need to do more of what they did in February in order togo deep. The offense will hopefully be there when it matters, but they can’t let their opponents score 86 points. If they can bring their defense back, then UCLA can still make it very far in the tournament.