LAS VEGAS – A strong performance by Jordan Adams, the UCLA freshman few talked about last summer, will rate water-cooler chatter Saturday morning.
Adams scored 24 points, 13 coming in a stretch that brought the No. 21 Bruins back for a 66-64 victory over No. 18 Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals Friday. UCLA will play the winner of Oregon and Utah.
The only misstep Adams made came late, when he missed a three-point shot. But Kyle Anderson grabbed the rebound and scored for a 66-64 lead with 22 seconds left.
A jump shot by Arizona’s Solomon Hill bounced off the rim. The clock ran out during the scramble for the ball, sending the Bruins (25-8) into celebration.
The Bruins trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half and were down 53-47 when Adams went to work.
Adams missed a shot, but immediately nailed a layup, starting a run in which he scored 11 consecutive UCLA points to tie the score at 56-56.
A frantic, and sometimes ragged first half, ended with Arizona leading 30-26, as UCLA shot 34% and missed all six three-point attempts.
Keeping the Bruins from falling deeper into a hole was Travis Wear. His eight points and three rebounds in the first half were run-of-the-mill numbers. But his blue-collar work on defense and on the boards were vital. Twice Wear’s offensive rebounds led to points.
The Bruins needed every ounce of that energy to prevent being trampled by the Wildcats, who pushed the pace at every opportunity.
Arizona also was getting more from its freshmen, who were overshadowed by the Bruins’ freshmen in the two previous games. Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski combined for 15 points in the half, while Adams, Anderson and Muhammad combined for 14. Tarczewski also had nine rebounds.
Muhammad, the Bruins’ leading scorer, got only four shots and had two points in the half. He finished the game with 11 points.
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