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Arizona Overpowers UCLA

Lute Olson says he doesn't raise his voice in the Arizona locker room. He does, however, make it clear when he's unhappy.

With the 17th-ranked Wildcats trailing UCLA 43-35 at halftime Saturday, Olson expressed his displeasure with his players' defensive effort. They obviously got the message.

The Wildcats blitzed the Bruins 55-22 in the second half in an 88-63 rout.

"It wasn't fire and brimstone," Olson said. "It was just `We've got to get after it.' I thought we were dead in the locker room. I didn't feel we had that snap we needed to have, and the best way to solve that problem is to get after people defensively."

The Wildcats (13-5, 5-1 Pac-10), who have won four in a row, handed UCLA its first conference loss and snapped the Bruins' six-game winning streak.

"We knew we were going to go out and play better in the second half," Arizona's Luke Walton said. "This is our home. We were not going to let UCLA come in here and win."

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  • Arizona swept a pair of home games from Southern California and the Bruins in Olson's return to the court. Olson had missed five games during the illness and death of his wife of 47 years, Bobbi.

    "Our chemistry is starting to get there. You can see that this should be a really good defensive team," Olson said, "and the defense can make so much of our offense happen, but we can't be passive and reactive, which we were in the first half."

    UCLA (10-5, 4-1) entered the game with the longest winning streak in coach Steve Lavin's five seasons at the school.

    But in the final stages of the Bruins' second-half disaster, Arizona's band was chanting "Rick Pi-ti-no, Rick Pi-ti-no," a reference to the former Boston Celtics coach purportedly intereste in Lavin's job.

    UCLA shot 54 percent from the field in the first half (15-for-28), and 24 percent (9-for-37) in the second.

    "We wore down and their pressure created a fenzied pace," Lavin said. "They played good, smothering defense, which forced 21 turnovers."

    Arizona shot 57 percent in the second half on 15-of-26.

    Richard Jefferson added 12 points and shut down UCLA's top offensive threat Jason Kapono, who made just 2-of-14 shots for a season-low four points.

    "The whole day I was rushing my shots and not getting my body squared for good looks," Kapono said. "I was just never able to get into a good rhythm. The bottom line was that I played poorly."

    Loren Woods had 12 points and nine rebounds for Arizona, while Michael Wright added 10 points.

    Luke Walton scored 11 points and keyed the second-half defensive stand that led to the big turnaround. Olson also singled out the play of reserve forward Gene Edgerson, who scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 13 strong minutes.

    Edgerson had been told to stay home from the team's road trip to Washington last week to think about his role with the team. He reportedly had been unhappy over a lack of playing time.

    "Things are great," Edgerson said. "I was making something out of nothing."

    Jason Gardner had an awful game for Arizona. He missed his first 10 shots, all 3-pointers, before sinking his last one from 3-point range.

    Reserve Ray Young scored 18 for the Bruins, 13 in the first half. Another substitute, Ryan Bailey scored a career-high 13 for UCLA.

    Playmaker Earl Watson, bothered by a bruised hip, managed just three points, four fouls and no assists in 14 minutes. Watson, injured in the Bruins' victory at Arizona State Thursday, almost didn't start.

    "When you start every game for your entire career, nobody knows your physical limitations," Watson said. "I am not exaggerating or being dramatic when I say my back really hurts. It is a very scary situation and I hope the X-rays I get on Monday show nothing serious."

    Arizona's starters outscored the Bruins starters 62-26.

    UCLA missed its first 10 shots of the second half, and Arizona was off on a 20-6 outburst that put the Wildcats up 53-47 with 10:23 to play.

    Arenas, who drew two early fouls and played just six minutes in the first half, sank a 3-pointer to put Arizona ahead for good 48-47 with 12:23 to play. He followed with another 3-pointer, then Wright capped the surge with two free throws.

    Jefferson's 3-pointer, and another basket by Arenas, made it 77-57 with 4:05 remaining, and Olson called off the attack.

    UCLA outscored Arizona 11-2 over the final 3:11 of the first half to lead 41-33 at the break, even though Kapono had just two points on 1-for-5 shooting.

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