Experience beat youth on Tuesday night … and it wasn’t all that close.
In fact, Arizona, the youthful part of this story, looked flustered at times as well as tired in its attempt to stay at the top of the Pac-12 Conference standings. But UCLA, the cagey veterans, thought otherwise.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd called some of Arizona’s possessions as “disjointed.”
That’s accurate given the results. UCLA outperformed Arizona to win 75-59 in Pauley Pavilion. Arizona had been on a five-game winning streak, racing up the polls to No. 3. It is now 16-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference. UCLA is also 6-1 in the conference.
Arizona hadn’t looked this bad since, well, not this season that’s for sure. It surely hadn’t shot as poorly as it did all season.
UA shot a season-low 30.7 percent on what appeared to be good, open shots. And, after falling early in the game, UCLA took control midway through the second half and never really had to look back, leading by double digits most of the game.
“Obviously they are a really good program that has a lot of experience and good players,” Lloyd said. “(They’ve) been there and done that. We’re still trying to get our feet on the ground and gain experience as a group.
“Here’s the deal, it didn’t go our way but we’ve gotta make it a great learning experience.”
What else can Lloyd & Company do but that? Arizona returns to face Arizona State on Saturday at McKale and then will see the Bruins again soon enough – Feb. 3 at McKale Center.
Here’s one problem, however, Arizona has lost six consecutive games to the Bruins and by Tuesday’s outcome the Feb. 3 game might be just as tough.
Maybe, Arizona will get a better performance both offensively and defensively. Arizona shot just 31 percent from the floor and gave up 50 percent to the Bruins.
A recipe like that only points to disaster. And for Arizona that was what it was, given it hadn’t experienced this before to this degree this season.
Still, even with Arizona not playing well and not looking good, Arizona had stretches where it looked like it would stay close. UA closed to within eight in the second half but for every Arizona run, UCLA had its own.
“We were right there, we just needed to make a little run to get back in it,” Lloyd said of the halftime score, 40-29. “We cut it to eight at some point (in the second half) then I probably called a bad defense and they hit a 3 and (eventually) got it back up to 14. You can comeback only so many times.”
By then, Arizona had run out of gas, and this from a team that has had plenty of gas in the tank all season, given its ability to score near the basket or away from it. But Arizona’s shot didn’t fall.
Dalen Terry went 0 for 5.
Bennedict Mathurin went 5 for 22.
And Kerr Kriisa went 0 for 12.
Right there – if you do the math – is 5 for 39 and 8 percent from the floor.
“We had some players that didn’t have good shooting nights, (but) that’s going to happen over the course of the season,” Lloyd said. “Some of the shots were good looks and some days those will fall.”
As for Kerr, well, he was out played by UCLA’s Tyger Campbell. It was the first time he failed to score since his first game last year when he became eligible midseason.
“I’m not worried about Kerr Kriisa,” Lloyd said. “That’s one guy I don’t worry about. I want him to take the same amount of shots next game. He’s kind of our ride-or-die guy. This is going to be a great learning experience for him and we’re going to hang with him. He’s going to help us out because of it.”
Arizona did get the services of Azuolas Tubelis, who played 15 minutes and scored eight points and six rebounds. He suffered an ankle sprain in Thursday’s game against Stanford.
“I’m really proud of him,” Lloyd said, noting he wasn’t sure he’d play. “He’s a winner and really wanted to give it a go for his teammates. He’s a huge part of what we are doing going forward.”