Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Flattened by UCLA’s Defense in 65-52 Listless Loss

Some disgruntled Arizona fans bolted for the exits early. It seemed as though groups of fans left after each missed field goal attempt by the Wildcats in the last few minutes. And there were a lot of missed shots.

Chris Smith had 15 points to lead UCLA to a 65-52 upset of the cold-shooting 23rd-ranked Wildcats in the Pac-12 game at McKale Center.

The Wildcats (16-7, 6-4 Pac-12) shot only 25.4 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from 3-point range. UCLA shot 51.1 percent from the field, 52.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Zeke Nnaji battles Jalen Hill for a rebound (Arizona Athletics photo)

Tyger Campbell added 12 points and five assists for the Bruins (13-11, 6-5).

Zeke Nnaji led Arizona with 14 points shooting 2-of-8 from the field. He was 10 of 10 from the free throw line. Josh Green had 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

The Bruins persevered through foul trouble throughout. Cody Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr. each picked up their fourth foul by 10:30 remained in regulation.

UCLA took a 29-28 lead at halftime highlighted by its defense against Arizona’s top three scorers –Nnaji, Nico Mannion and Green. The trio, all freshman, combined for only 12 points on 3 of 5 shooting from the field.

Jemarl Baker (Arizona Athletics photo)

Nnaji, who entered the game averaging a team-best 16.3 points a game, did not make a field goal in the first half. He went 0 for 5 but made all four of his free throws. Mannion (14.5 points a game) had five points on 2-of-6 shooting and Green (12.0) made a 3-pointer for his only points.

Mannion finished with only five points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field. He did not have any assists.

Jemarl Baker’s three 3-pointers in the half carried Arizona before halftime.

UCLA outscored Arizona 9-2 to start the second half to take a 38-30 lead as the Wildcats came out making only 1 of 5 shots and missing all three 3-point attempts.

Christian Koloko (Arizona Athletics photo)

Arizona did not have a scorer in double figures until Nnaji made two free throws with 11:09 left in regulation to give him 10 points.

Eight unanswered points by Arizona cut the lead to 45-44 with 9:47 left. Six of those points came on free throws. At that point, the Wildcats scored six points from the field in the second half and 10 from the free throw line.

UCLA responded with a 14-0 run to increase its lead to 59-44 with 6:31 left. David Singleton capped the run with a 3-pointer.

Arizona went through a 0-of-10 stretch from the field before Ira Lee made a layup. By that time, UCLA led 58-43.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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