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Fri 20/02/2015 - 16:25 EST

UCLA Can Lock Up NCAA Bid By Upsetting Arizona

The UCLA Bruins started the season very slowly under Coach Steve Alford but they have played much better of late and are definitely in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid. If UCLA doesn't want to sweat it out on Selection Sunday, barring winning the Pac-12 Tournament, then all it needs to do is win at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday. However, the Cats are 14.5-point Bovada favorites. ESPN's GameDay will be in Tucson.

UCLA (16-11, 8-6) hurt its NCAA Tournament hopes with a 68-66 loss at Arizona State on Wednesday. The Bruins led by as many as 10 points in the first half. Arizona State took the lead for good at the 5:12 mark in the second half (58-57) and pushed its cushion to 66-60 at the 1:41 mark. UCLA trimmed its late deficit to 67-66 in the final 10 seconds and regained possession with under eight seconds to play. The Bruins dribbled the ball the length of the court before Isaac Hamilton’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was unsuccessful.

UCLA's Kevon Looney enters the weekend having averaged 12.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, the second-highest rebounding average of any freshman in the nation (through Feb. 18). Likewise, Looney has logged 13 double-doubles in 27 games, the highest double-double total of any freshman in the country.

Arizona (23-3, 11-2) is tied for the Pac-12 lead with Utah. The Cats come off an 87-57 rout of USC on Thursday. The Wildcats led by 18 at halftime and didn't let up to win their 35th straight home game. Kaleb Tarczewski had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Stanley Johnson had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Ranked sixth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, UA has held 69 of its last 71 opponents under the 80-point mark; UA is one of three schools in the nation ranked in the top 15 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.

The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 with a +8.2 rebound margin and rank first nationally in defensive rebound percentage at 77.0 for the year; Arizona is 115-21 (.846) in Miller’s tenure when it wins the battle on the glass. In the midst of the nation’s second-longest home winning streak at 35 games, UA is 88-11 (.889) at McKale Center under Sean Miller and has a Pac-12-best .928 home winning percentage over the last four-plus seasons.

UCLA will play its final regular-season road game Saturday. Last year, UCLA and Arizona went 1-1 against each other with the Bruins winning, 75-71, in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament (March 15). UCLA has won 15 of the last 22 meetings against Arizona over the previous nine seasons. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 84-73, when the two schools last faced each other at the McKale Center (Jan. 24, 2013).

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