LOS ANGELES (AP) – Reeves Nelson had a career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds, and UCLA defeated No. 10 Arizona 71-49 on Saturday to tie the Wildcats for first place in the Pac-10 in the last men’s game played at historic Pauley Pavilion before it closes for renovation.
Joshua Smith added 17 points and Tyler Honeycutt had 15 for the Bruins (21-8), who share the league’s top spot at 12-4 with two games remaining. They have won 12 of 14 after being out of the top 25 all season.
Derrick Williams scored 15 points and Kyle Fogg had 10 for the Wildcats (23-6), who stumbled through a lost weekend in L.A. They arrived with a two-game lead only to be upset by Southern California on Thursday, when Williams, the league’s No. 2 scorer, was held to a season-low eight points.
Then they encountered a UCLA team hellbent on grabbing a share of the Pac-10 crown for itself while leaving Pauley on a winning note in front of the late coach John Wooden’s family. The program’s 11 national championship banners will be packed away while the arena is remodeled before it reopens for the 2012-13season.
Fittingly, Wooden’s great-grandson Tyler Trapani, who rides the Bruins’ bench, got in the game and scored their final basket.
A sweep would have given Arizona the regular-season title outright. The Wildcats still could have claimed at least a share of it by winning Saturday. Now it comes down to next weekend, when they host the Oregon schools and UCLA hits the road to face the Washington schools.
UCLA held the Wildcats to a season-low in points; Arizona came in averaging 77.6 — second-best in the Pac-10. The Wildcats shot 21 percent from 3-point range, well off their league-leading 41 percent.
The Bruins gained control of a game that was close early with a 22-2 run spanning halftime. Smith scored nine points despite picking up his third foul in the spurt that ended with UCLA ahead 51-30. Nelson added seven. His rebounds helped the Bruins dominate the boards 40-26.
Leading 29-28, UCLA closed the first half on an 11-2 run while the Wildcats were limited to one field goal over the final 5:03.
The Bruins picked up where they left off in the second half, starting out with 11 consecutive points in front of a big crowd that grew more raucous as the lead increased.
Smith proved to be his usual load in the post, barreling through the Wildcats’ defense for layups. He got hit in the eye at the same time he was called for his third foul and sat down.
The Wildcats immediately took advantage, running off 10 straight points to close to 51-40. Fogg and Jamelle Horne hit consecutive 3-pointers.
Arizona scored six straight to get within nine before Smith tipped in Lazeric Jones’ missed 3-pointer with 4:02 left. But the Bruins closed the game on another run.
Among those attending the final men’s game at Pauley were former Wooden assistant Denny Crum, Olympian Rafer Johnson, and Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe from the 1971 national title team that was honored at halftime.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)