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UCLA clinches Pac-12 Conference regular-season title

March 09, 2013|By Dan Loumena
  • UCLA guard Shabazz Muhammad battles Washington center Aziz N'Diaye for a rebound in the first half Saturday.
UCLA guard Shabazz Muhammad battles Washington center Aziz N'Diaye… (Ted S. Warren / Associated…)

UCLA shook off a disappointing loss Wednesday at last-place Washington State to secure the Pac-12 Conference regular-season title with a 61-54 victory over Washington on Saturday.

The Bruins (23-8, 13-5 in Pac-12 play), who won in Seattle for the first time since 2004, went into this weekend's play tied with Oregon for first place in the conference, but the Ducks (23-8, 12-6) were upset by Utah, 72-62, on Saturday.

“To go through all adversity we’ve gone through this season, to win it here is really special," Coach Ben Howland said.

Shabazz Muhammad scored 21 points, including 14 in the second half, on eight-of-17 shooting and had six rebounds to lead the Bruins. Jordan Adams contributed 17 points and four steals, Travis Wear had 10 points and Larry Drew II finished with seven points and six assists for UCLA, which shot only 39.7% (23 of 58) from the field.

The Bruins had a big advantage at the free-throw line, making 14 of 18 attempts compared to Washington going three for nine.

“Shabazz was huge today," Howland said. "Shabazz is the player of the year in this conference. This win, I think, hopefully hammers that home. He was phenomenal.”

Scott Suggs had 14 points on six-of-10 shooting to lead the Huskies, who made 41.1% (23 of 56) of their shots from the field. Shawn Kemp Jr. was the only other Washington player in double figures with 10 points. The Bruins held Washington's leading scorer, C.J. Wilcox, to nine points below his average on three-of-13 shooting for eight points.

UCLA rallied from a four-point deficit, 52-48, with 5 minutes 59 seconds left in the second half. Muhammad score five points in a row on a jumper and three free throws after a Kyle Anderson layup to spark a 9-0 run that gave the Bruins a 57-52 lead with 1:14 left.

After the Huskies cut the lead to three at 57-54, Drew sealed the victory with a driving layup. Drew became UCLA's single-season assist leader with 239, surpassing Pooh Richardson's 236.

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