UCLA showed us all what March Madness is truly about on Saturday night in Las Vegas, capturing the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament Championship with a 75-71 victory over No. 4 Arizona.
It was the Bruins first conference tournament championship since 2008, and their first since the conference expanded from 10 to 12 members in 2010.
And boy did they have to earn it.
UCLA (26-8, 12-6 Pac-12) came out swinging for the fences, shooting lights out and opening up an early 14-3 lead on the back of a 12-0 run.
The Wildcats (30-4, 15-3 Pac-12) looked shell-shocked, but they quickly settled down and used a 9-2 run of their own to close the half strong and narrow the gap to only three points.
The second half took on the feel of a heavyweight fight, with both teams slinging and absorbing bombs but refusing to go down. Despite both having runs, neither team was able to pull away, and the game remained close down the stretch.
It quickly developed the feel of a game that would be decided by the last team to make a huge shot, and on this night, that would be the Bruins.
It was Jordan Adams who proved the hero, nailing a highlight-reel triple while falling to put UCLA ahead for good at 71-68 with just 43 seconds remaining. David Wear and Norman Powell iced the game for the Bruins at the free-throw line, and handed Arizona their third stinging defeat in the conference title game in the past four seasons.
The Bruins were led by Kyle Anderson with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Adams added 19 and Powell 15.
The Wildcats, who despite the loss should be headed for a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament bracket is announced on Sunday, were led by Nick Johnson with 22 points.
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