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March 15, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- The league's top thief stole a win away from Arizona Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals. But Jordan Adams had his season ripped away from him before the night was over.
The freshman guard, an omission from the Pac-12 all-freshman team, scored 18 of his 24 points after halftime and Kyle Anderson's go-ahead basket with 23 seconds to play lifted top-seeded UCLA to a 66-64 win over the fourth-seeded Wildcats at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The Bruins rode the hot hand of Adams, who scored 13 consecutive UCLA points at one point, to erase a double-digit deficit in the final 9:57.
"A lot of big plays," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "I thought Jordan Adams was fantastic during that run when he came back and was in the zone and his teammates were finding him."
After Grant Jerrett's 3-pointer tied the game at 64 with 55 seconds to play, Anderson recorded a putback off a missed Adams 3 on the next possession. Arizona senior Solomon Hill missed a potential game-tying shot that was contested near the foul line with five seconds to play.
"We didn't need a three," UA head coach Sean Miller said. "So we ran a play and put the ball in Solomon's hands like we've done so many times. I thought he made a great move."
Adams finished 6 of 13 from the field and 11 of 13 at the free-throw line to lead UCLA into Saturday night's championship game against Oregon, which defeated Utah in the second semifinal of the night.
On the game's final play, however, Howland said Adams was limping as he came off the floor.
"The very last play of the game when they were shooting, somehow he came down and tweaked his foot," Howland said. "So he's getting X‑rayed on it right now. Here in the building somewhere there is an X‑ray machine. We'll see how it is."
Moments later, a reporter informed Howland that Adams was spotted on crutches and that his foot was broken, according to reports on Twitter. Irked, Howland chose to wait on an official word. Less than an hour later, UCLA officials announced that Adams broke his right foot and is done for the season.
After the game, Miller, who was assessed a technical foul after Adams appeared to strip Wildcats guard Mark Lyons with 4:37 remaining. Instead, Lyons was called for double dribble, and Miller was livid about the officiating and discrepancy at the free-throw line between the teams. The Bruins made 17 of 21 free throws - and attempted 16 after halftime - to the Wildcats' 7-of-9 performance.
But it was the call and subsequent free throws that clearly bothered an animated Miller more than anything.
"I told our team after the game that's all completely on me," Miller said. "If you're the coach of a team and you get a technical in this type of situation under 4 minutes, that's unacceptable. And he made both free throws, hence the difference in the game.
"The reason I got a technical foul is because I said, 'He touched the ball. He touched the ball.' Like in other words, Mark Lyons dribbled - and by the way, when you show the replay here on ESPN in a few seconds, he touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. That's a hard one now when you work August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and here we are."
Miller continued: "My man over here (senior Solomon Hill), he's never coming back here again. His coach gets a technical foul. Didn't cuss. Didn't challenge him. By the way, it's my first technical foul of the year. That's what this is about. And by the way, full credit given to UCLA. They did a great job."
Freshman forward Brandon Ashley scored 15 points off the bench to pace four double-digit scorers for Arizona, which shot 44.6 percent. Fellow freshmen Kaleb Tarczewski added six points and a game-high 13 rebounds before fouling out, while Lyons added 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
But offense was not the issue. The defense forced just five UCLA turnovers and allowed 40 second-half points.
"We lost a little bit of our aggressiveness in the second half," Hill said. "We let the refs dictate our play in the second half and our tempo. When you start getting down on the refs and try to argue with the refs, you kind of lose focus on the team goals and what we want to do out there."
Up two with a little more than five minutes to play, Nick Johnson drilled a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down to extend the lead to 56-51. But Adams responded on the next trip down with a 3 of his own.
After a dunk from Hill, the Bruins looked to Adams again to tie the game at 58 with 3:53 left. Shabazz Muhammad added a pair of free throws to give UCLA its first lead since the 16:30 mark of the first half.
After Travis Wear's free throws made it 62-60, Tarczewski split a pair with 1:41 remaining. On UA's next possession, Adams collected a steal and drew Tarczewski's fifth foul on the break with 1:13 left. Adams hit both free throws to extend the lead to 64-61 and set up the game's final sequences.
"I think we did a good job of keeping our composure," said Anderson, who finished with 10 points. "The leaders on our team stressed to the five guys that are out there that we have to stay calm, being down 11 or 9 or whatever it was. I think that's what we did a really good job of and we were able to fight back for a second time and end up with the win."
Leading by four at the half, the Wildcats jumped on the Bruins with a 5-0 spurt capped by Lyons' 3-pointer from straightaway to push the advantage to 35-26 with 18:29 to play. UA maintained the margin and Lyons' basket took the lead to 11 past the midway point.
But the Bruins stormed back over the next two minutes, cutting the deficit down to two on Adams'' jump shot with 8:14 remaining.
In front of another pro-Arizona crowd, the Wildcats came out and controlled the battle on the boards early. UA also was patient on offense, recording assist on five of its first seven baskets to take a 17-14 lead through the midway point of the half.
Arizona's freshmen got involved in a big way to start. The big man trio of Tarczewski, Ashley and Jerrett combined to score 15 points and pull down 13 rebounds in the half.
Jerrett and Hill then gave the 'Cats a bigger cushion with 3-pointers on the next three UA baskets to push the lead to 26-18 with 5:20 remaining until halftime.
UCLA responded with a 6-0 run highlighted by an alley-oop to Wear coming out of a timeout. But the Bruins' inability to produce in the paint and the ineffectiveness of Larry Drew II - who had just one assist and was held scoreless through the first 20 minutes - helped Arizona take a 30-26 lead into the locker room.