LOS ANGELES, California — Chris Smith scored 17 points, Tyger Campbell hit the tiebreaking jumper with 49 seconds left and UCLA dramatically rallied from a late deficit to take sole possession of the Pac-12 lead with its seventh consecutive victory, 69-64 over Arizona on Saturday night.
Cody Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 11 points apiece for the Bruins (19-11, 12-5 Pac-12), who didn't lead in the second half before Campbell hit his big shot while tumbling to the court. UCLA also forced turnovers by the Wildcats (19-10, 9-7) on three consecutive key possessions down the stretch while holding Arizona scoreless for 3:43 before Christian Koloko's layup with two seconds to play.
Campbell had missed his first 10 shots before making the go-ahead basket.
The Bruins wrapped up their home schedule by securing a season sweep of Arizona and moving a half-game ahead of No. 14 Oregon (22-7, 11-5), which didn't play Saturday, atop the conference standings.
UCLA has won 11 of 13 since mid-January, and its once-improbable NCAA Tournament hopes appear to be quite plausible after this tremendous late surge under first-year coach Mick Cronin. A team that lost to Hofstra, Cal State Fullerton and Washington State earlier in the season pulled even with the Ducks on Thursday with a clutch win over Arizona State.
Arizona coach Sean Miller was ejected with 12:28 to play in a one-point game after earning his second technical foul of the night, and his Wildcats struggled in the waning moments of their third consecutive loss.
Nico Mannion had 19 points and six assists for Arizona, and Zeke Nnaji added 16 points. The Wildcats led 62-58 on Nnaji's dunk with 3:45 to play, but they didn't score again until Koloko's meaningless layup.
UCLA went seven minutes between field goals before Smith's jumper with 2:13 left made it 62-60. Smith then tied it on another turnaround jumper, and Dylan Smith turned it over for Arizona before Campbell hit the go-ahead shot.
Miller got his first technical foul in the first half when he became apoplectic over a no-call on a blocked layup attempt by Mannion. Miller had saliva dripping down his chin while he screamed at the officials over the call, which appeared to be correct on replays.
Assistant coach Jack Murphy took over down the stretch after Miller got tossed.
Arizona: The Wildcats' ticket to the NCAA Tournament is essentially booked, but three straight defeats raise questions about their ability to succeed on big stages. Arizona didn't play poorly in the second half until the final minutes, but its lack of execution on offense is alarming.
UCLA: The Bruins' winning streak has provided a chance for Cronin to reach his 10th straight tourney after making the last nine straight with Cincinnati. UCLA's success is everything the school hoped when it hired the veteran coach, and the Bruins appear capable of even more in March.
Arizona hosts Washington State on Thursday night in its penultimate home game of the season.