Wizards

UCLA uses fast start to beat No. 6 Arizona 84-73

201301242109761511198-p2.jpeg

UCLA uses fast start to beat No. 6 Arizona 84-73

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Shabazz Muhammad scored 23 points, Jordan Adams added 15 and UCLA rode a dominating start to an 84-73 win over No. 6 Arizona on Thursday night.

The Pac-12's top scoring and shooting team, UCLA (16-4, 6-1) tried to turn Arizona's whiteout into a blowout, racing to a 16-point lead in the game's first seven minutes. Even when Arizona chipped away at the lead, bringing the all-in-white crowd at the McKale Center to life, the Bruins kept their composure to pick up a huge road win.

David Wear added 15 points and eight rebounds for UCLA.

Arizona (16-2, 4-12) got off to a miserable start at both ends and never fully recovered, pulling no closer than four points after digging a huge opening hole.

Nick Johnson had 23 points, Mark Lyons added 16 and Solomon Hill 13 for the Wildcats, who went 5 for 24 from 3-point range.

Heading in, this was one of the most anticipated games of the Pac-12 season, two of the conference's most talented teams that score in bunches and have some of the best freshmen anywhere.

Arizona's freshmen big men - Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett - have been solid in their first season in the desert, though they have been able to fall back on Arizona's veterans when things have gotten tight.

After opening with 14 straight wins, the Wildcats' luck in pulling out tight games ran out with a 70-66 road loss to Oregon on Jan. 10. They responded with a pair of impressive wins, beating Oregon State and Arizona State both by double digits.

UCLA had some rough patches early in the season, losing to Cal Poly and needing overtime to beat UC Irvine, along with Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith transferring from the program.

The Bruins rounded back into form after losing to San Diego State on Dec. 1, winning 10 straight games before losing to No. 16 Oregon on Saturday.

UCLA's freshmen - Muhammad, Adams and Kyle Anderson - handled a big road test in a win over Colorado two weeks ago, but the McKale Center and all those rowdy fans wearing white T-shirts and screaming at them.

No problem for these Bruins, young and old.

Confident and crisp on offense, UCLA made eight of its first 12 shots, racing out to a 19-3 lead. Arizona helped out by clanging shot after shot, opening 1 for 13, with most of those around the rim.

The Wildcats were getting decent shots, though, and a few started to fall as they chipped away at the lead.

Arizona climbed its shooting percentage up to 31 percent (11 for 25) by halftime, but had trouble stopping the Bruins, who went 19 for 34 from the floor for a 40-30 lead. Muhammad led the way with 11 points.

Even without Travis Wear, who sat out the second half with a head injury after scoring six points in the first, UCLA maintained its composure.

Scoring on the break, inside and on tough drives to the basket, the Bruins kept dropping in shots, pushing the lead to 55-41 in the first seven minutes of the second half.

Arizona wasn't quite done, though.

Sparked by Johnson's three-point play, the Wildcats scored the next 10 points to get within four and crank up the volume in the McKale Center.

The Bruins made sure they didn't get any closer.

Tony Parker scored on a three-point play, Muhammad dropped in a 3-pointer and UCLA pushed the lead up to 70-60 with just over four minutes left.

Arizona kept clanging from the perimeter and the Bruins made the shots and free throws when they needed to, pulling out their biggest road win of the season.

Quick Links

Bradley Beal on signing extension with Wizards last year: 'I'm the franchise here'

Bradley Beal on signing extension with Wizards last year: 'I'm the franchise here'

Just before the 2019-2020 NBA season began, Wizards guard Bradley Beal opted to extend his career in Washington with a two-year, $72 million maximum contract that keeps him in the nation’s capital through at least the end of 2022 -- with a player option for the following year.

Before the extension, other teams across the league were reportedly interested in acquiring the 26-year-old. But Beal never pushed for a trade, and opted to stay with the team that drafted him out of Florida in 2012.

In an appearance on Posted Up with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Beal explained his decision was deeper than money. Renewing his commitment to Washington, which he called his “second home,” was about the initial connection, his legacy and the chance for success with John Wall in the future.

“I respect the fact that they drafted me, that’s first and foremost,” Beal told Haynes. “Just being in one spot for your whole career, having your jersey in the rafter one day, being that important to an organization, those were all things that drew me.”

 

Last summer, Beal said he spoke with current and former NBA stars about his pending decision. He consulted Portland Trailblazers’ star guard Damian Lillard, who decided to stay with his original team with a supermax contract extension in June, and Ray Allen, who was loyal to the Milwaukee Bucks early in his career.

After those conversations, it was clear to him that staying in Washington was better than chasing rings through requesting a trade.

“Honestly, I thought that was kind of the easy way out,” Beal said. “It’ll feel more meaningful and powerful knowing that I grinded it out doing it in D.C. It’s pretty much my team, I’m the franchise here, so it was kind of destined for me to kind of mold it from here.”

Beal’s appearance on Haynes’ podcast comes one week after he expressed frustration following the Wizards’ 116-109 loss to the Chicago Bulls -- another defeat during a difficult season.

The guard addressed those comments that underscored his mounting frustration.

“I was mad that we lost. We lost a very winnable game. And granted, I’m a big part of it, the team’s a big part of it,” Beal said. “One thing I want everybody to understand is I’m not a guy that just shifts blame on his teammates.

“I want to win. And whatever that looks like, whatever it takes, let’s go out there and get it done.”

Washington’s losing season comes with Wall relegated to the role of a spectator, as the Wizards’ franchise point guard continues to recover from a ruptured achilles he suffered last February.

Without Wall on the floor this season, Beal has averaged 27.5 points and 6.3 assists in 36 games. But Beal knows his role will change whenever Wall returns.

“When he comes back, obviously, you know, the dynamic of our team chances. I won’t have the ball all the time,” Beal said. “He’s going to have the ball, he’s going to be able to make plays and, you know, create plays for us as he always does.”

As Beal looks forward to reuniting with his backcourt running mate, he also has an eye on how the duo can advance further than it did in the past.

“What can we do differently than we did in the past?” Beal pondered. “How can we grow from where we were a few years ago -- game seven against the Celtics -- to how can we take that next step?”

In discussing Beal’s legacy, Haynes asked the Wizards guard about maintaining loyalty versus winning a ring. Beal didn’t shy away from laying out his goals to win multiple rings, but he’s also cognizant that there’s no guarantee his legacy will include that.

“There’s plenty of guys who had great careers and didn’t get one. Granted, everybody wants one. I want one; I want multiple,” he said. “At the same time, you can’t live your life or I guess you can’t basically judge your career off of that because there’s no guarantee you’ll get one.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards pushing to get 3 players in NBA's Rising Stars Challenge

Wizards pushing to get 3 players in NBA's Rising Stars Challenge

The Wizards, and Teammate of the Year Jordan McRae, are doing everything they can to have heavy representation at NBA All-Star weekend. 

All month they've been campaigning for Bradley Beal to make the All-Star game, Thursday it was a movement for Bertans to get invited to the three-point contest.

Now, the Wizards are pushing for Troy Brown, Anzejs Pasecniks and Moe Wagner to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, an exhibition game played between the league's best rookies and second-year players. 

 

Brown probably has the best claim of the three. He's played extremely well since getting moved to the bench and is currently averaging 10.3 points,5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 46 percent shooting. 

The second-year wing is still a relatively unknown commodity around the league, so an appearance at the Rising Stars game would give him a chance to show the NBA world what he can do with the ball in his hands. 

Wagner has missed the last 20 games with an ankle injury, but before he went down, he solidified himself as one of the NBA's best charge-takers. Pasecniks went from an Exhibit 10 contract, to a two-way contract and then a multi-year deal with the Wizards. 

And of course, McRae was there to support his teammates. 

The Rising Stars game used to be rookies against sophomores but was recently split up as a USA vs. World exhibition. Brown would qualify for the US, while Pasecniks and Wagner could potentially go up against their teammate on the World side.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: