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P12 Stanford UCLA Basketball

UCLA's Jaylen Hands shoots around Stanford's Marcus Sheffield, center, and Josh Sharma in the first round of the Pac-12 men's tournament on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Jaylen Hands had 22 points and 11 rebounds, helping UCLA hold off Stanford 79-72 in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday night.

The seventh-seeded Bruins (17-15) built a 26-point lead before Stanford started hitting shots in the closing minutes to pull within 69-62.

UCLA hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final 1:05 to earn a spot in Thursday's quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Arizona State.

Jalen Hill had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Chris Smith added 14 points for the Bruins.

The 10th-seeded Cardinal (15-16) struggled against UCLA's defensive pressure early, finishing at 35 percent from the floor and 7 of 25 from the 3-point arc.

Josh Sharma had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Marcus Sheffield added 18 points to lead Stanford.

UCLA's regular season included some ugly early losses, the firing of coach Steve Alford and ended with losses to Colorado and Utah.

Stanford stumbled to the finish, losing four of its final seven games, including rival Cal in the finale.

The Bruins and Cardinal split the season series, each winning at home.

Neither team could get shots to fall early in the rematch, opening a combined 4 for 24. The Bruins started to find the range and hit eight of nine shots to build a 31-18 lead.

Hands had 13 points and UCLA led 36-22 at halftime.

Stanford had a scoreless drought of more than four minutes, shot 8 of 35 and went 1 for 11 from the 3-point line in the first half.

The trend continued early in the second half and UCLA went on a 12-2 run to build its lead to 57-31 midway through.

Stanford finally started hitting shots midway through the second half, but ran out of time.

COLORADO 56, CALIFORNIA 51

Colorado had trouble holding onto the ball, didn't shoot particularly well and let a double-digit lead slip to three in the final minute.

The Buffaloes found a way to overcome it all and are headed into the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.

McKinley Wright IV scored 18 points and Colorado overcame a season-high 23 turnovers to hold off California 56-51 on Wednesday in the opening round.

"Well, that was the epitome of winning ugly. Probably an understatement," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "But I these guys in the locker room, our program is built on defense and rebounding for a reason. It's for days like this, games like this, when the offense is not functioning the way we want it to function, that we find a way to win a game by guarding, by rebounding."

The fifth-seeded Buffaloes (20-11) gave up 17 points from their turnovers, but made up for it shutting down the Bears defensively and outrebounding them 40-19.

Colorado used an eight-point burst midway through the second half to go up 10 and held off a late Cal charge to remain undefeated (8-0) in Pac-12 Tournament first-round games

The Buffaloes move on to face No. 4 seed Oregon State in Thursday's quarterfinals.

"I think we were rushing a lot of things tonight," Wright said. "We were anxious to go out and play the first round of the tournament and to make 23 turnovers was too much. We're happy to get out with a win. We'll be better tomorrow."

The 12th-seeded Bears (8-23) shot nearly 50 percent while winning their final three regular-season games, but reverted to their shooting struggles in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Cal trimmed a 10-point lead to three in the final minute and had a shot to tie after a 3-pointer by Wright was waved off upon review. Matt Bradley got a decent look at a 3-pointer, but his shot hit the front rim and Colorado's Tyler Bey hit two free throws with 2.4 second left to seal it.

Bradley had 17 points to lead the Bears, who shot 34 percent.

"I felt like in the first half we were a little stagnant offensively," Cal coach Wyking Jones said. "We had a couple of scoring droughts, but defensively I thought we did a really good job. I was definitely happy with my team's effort today."

Cal lost its first 15 Pac-12 games before stunning eventual champion Washington on Feb. 28. The Bears followed with wins over Washington State and rival Stanford to close out the regular season and head into the conference tournament on a mini roll.

The Buffaloes landed in Las Vegas on a bit of roll as well, winning eight of their final 10 games to just miss an opening-round bye as a top-four seed.

Colorado won the lone regular-season meeting 68-59 after blowing an 18-point lead.

The rematch was a defensive battle early, with neither team able to get into much of a rhythm.

The Buffaloes triggered a 13-2 run with their defense, going up 23-14 after a pair of steals and break-away dunks by Daylen Kountz. Cal went more than five minutes without scoring during Colorado's run.

"Our defense is a lot better when we score," Jones said. "And we just have more energy, we're able to set our defense after we score. I just felt like the drought affected us, even though we still held them to a decent percentage."

Colorado took control with a quick 8-0 spurt to go up 10, but went more than three minutes without scoring as Cal cut the lead to 50-47.

The Bears were able to keep Colorado within reach, but couldn't come up with the big plays when they needed them.

USC 78, ARIZONA 65

Southern California's up-and-down season will continue.

Arizona may have reached the end of an era.

Bennie Boatwright had 22 points and 11 rebounds, helping USC roll over Arizona 78-65 in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.

"We're seniors and we wanted to make sure the guys came out and played as hard as they can," Boatwright said. "This is our last go-around and we want to go as far as we can. They made shots, but we kept playing hard throughout the game."

The eighth-seeded Trojans (16-16) started slowly, but went on 18-2 runs in each half to earn a spot in Thursday's quarterfinals against top-seeded Washington.

Derryck Thornton scored 12 points and USC shot 48 percent to bounce the ninth-seeded Wildcats from the Pac-12 tournament after losing to them in the title game a year ago.

Arizona's difficult season may have come to an end with its first opening-round Pac-12 exit since 2010.

The two-time defending champion Wildcats (17-15) continued to be embroiled in a recruiting scandal and struggled on the court, punctuated by their lopsided loss to the Trojans.

Unless Arizona gets an invite to a smaller tournament, it will not play a postseason game for the first time since 1983-84, Lute Olson's first year as coach.

The school also must decide the fate of coach Sean Miller. He has repeatedly been linked to the recruiting scandal and will be subpoenaed in a federal trial next month.

Miller stuck to his stance of not commenting on questions concerning the scandal or his job, saying "No" when asked if he thought this was his last game at Arizona.

"Our room for error was so slight that it really stole our confidence to some degree and didn't allow us to be maybe the best overall team that we could have been," Miller said.

The Wildcats dug a big early hole, fought back by halftime and fell behind by double digits midway through the second half. Ryan Luther scored 16 points and Brandon Williams 13 for the Wildcats, who went 5 for 22 from the 3-point arc.

The Trojans closed out a disappointing regular season with four straight losses and seven in nine games.

Arizona ended with a similar thud, losing to rival Arizona State for its ninth loss in 10 games.

USC won the teams' lone meeting this season, rolling over the Wildcats 80-57 at home.

The Trojans got the Pac-12 tournament off to a slow start before going on an 18-2 run to go up 23-12.

"They were playing really hard and when you do that, you disrupt a lot of things," Arizona's Ira Lee said.

But instead of racing off to another rout, USC started sputtering, allowing Arizona back in it. The Wildcats went on a late 13-3 run and tied it at 40-all by halftime. Arizona made 13 of 26 first-half shots after shooting 28 percent the first game against USC.

USC took control midway through the second half, using with another 18-2 run to go up 63-45.

"I thought defensively we picked it up and we were able to challenge most of their shots and rebound the basketball," USC coach Andy Enfield said.

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Sports Reporter

Rick is a 29-year veteran of The Daily News, and the lead Lower Columbia College athletics reporter. In addition, he tracks former area prep athletes and assists several other beats. He is a Mark Morris grad with a business management degree from LCC.

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