Last night, the UCLA Bruins advanced to the Pac-12 finals after winning a hard-fought game against Arizona, 66-64, in Las Vegas. The fortituous final play, in which Arizona missed a jumper and tip-in opportunity, may also have taken UCLA's season out behind the proverbial woodshed.
UCLA started the second half down four and let the deficit grow to 11 before a rally largely spurred by freshman shooting guard Jordan Adams, who scored 15 of his 24 in the final 10 minutes. With the Bruins down 49-39 at that point, the scoring went: two Jordan Adams free throws, five points by Shabazz Muhammad, a Jordan Adams jumper, two Arizona points, a Jordan Adams lay-up, a Jordan Adams jumper, three Arizona points, a Jordan Adams three, two Jordan Adams free throws, and a Jordan Adams jumper. It was a lot of Jordan Adams, and the Bruins needed every bit of it, just as they have over their recent run of success—over at CBS, Jeff Goodman writes, "One of UCLA's assistant coaches had told me less than 24 hours earlier that Adams was the team's toughest player. He is also the Bruins most effective and versatile overall scorer." Now he's out for the remainder of the season.
On the Wildcats' last play, in which they held the ball for a jumper and tipped it around after the miss (see the replay here), Adams came down awkwardly on his foot and broke his fifth metatarsal. Reaction was...solemn:
Larry Drew II sat in front of his locker in the corner of the UCLA locker room, motionless, doing everything he could to fight back the tears that were welling up in his eyes. He clenched his eyes, pulled his top corner of his game jersey over his head and finally was unable to hold back any longer. The emotions came pouring out, tears and the correct words to sum up the Bruins latest obstacle [...]"I'm in shock," Drew II said. "I can't believe it. I feel horrible for him."
21-ranked UCLA plays Oregon tonight for the Pac-12 title, sans Adams. They may win—Arizona was probably a tougher opponent—but if the Bruins weren't already a popular choice for the inevitable 12-5 upset in the tournament, Adams's absence makes them a strong pick to bow out early.