LAS VEGAS – Battling for a spot in the Pac-12 final, No. 3 UCLA men’s basketball finished a hotly contested first half down 41-35 to No. 7 Arizona on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The Bruins, who split two regular-season meetings with the Wildcats, jumped out to an early lead but their offense stagnated as the half wore on. They turned the ball over nine times and finished the period shooting just 42.3 percent, including 2-of-12 from 3-point range.
After starting the game 5-for-6 from the field, UCLA then turned the ball over on five straight possessions, allowing Arizona to jumpstart a 22-9 run.
Freshman point guard Lonzo Ball had one of the rougher halves of his college career, generating just two points and two assists in 15 minutes while coughing the ball up four times.
The Wildcats shot 46.9 percent for the half and made 7 of their 13 3-point attempts. Five different Arizona players connected from long range.
Seven-foot Arizona forward Lauri Markannen hurt the Bruins throughout the half in pick-and-pop situations, drilling a pair of threes and leading the Wildcats with 12 points, more than he had throughout the entirety of Arizona’s loss to UCLA on Feb. 25.
Senior guard Isaac Hamilton, who led the Bruins in scoring Thursday against USC, once again carried the offensive load in the opening half, notching a team-high 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Fellow senior guard Bryce Alford continued to struggle, though, hitting just one of his five shots and turning the ball over twice.
The winner of Friday’s matchup will advance to face No. 5 Oregon in the conference final on Saturday night.