UCLA grabbed more media attention Saturday, but in a good way.
In the days after an unflattering Sports Illustrated article was published, the Bruins posted their biggest win of the Pac-12 schedule and then denied Washington a chance at an outright league title. Not bad for a team “under fire.”
The 75-69 win over the Huskies didn’t feature much defense – open looks were common, even if the teams only combined to shoot 45 percent from the field – until the second half when UCLA held UW to just 22 points. Even then, it was as much about Washington (21-9, 14-4 in Pac-12) missing shots. It had no fewer than four chances to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but either missed or botched plays.
That opens the door for Cal (23-7, 13-4) to earn a share of the regular-season crown and the top seed in next week’s conference tournament with a win Sunday vs. Stanford.
Then there’s the Bruins.
The thought of UCLA (18-13, 11-7) winning four games and claiming the automatic bid used to be outrageous. But they’ll play in L.A. at the Staples Center, which isn’t their home court, but given that The Sports Arena – not Pauley Pavilion – served as their “home court” this season, it’s close enough.
Say the Bruins are the 6 seed. That puts them in line to face USC, Arizona and likely Washington to reach the title game. That’s improbable, but could happen.
That happens, the SI report will be a distant memory.
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