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UCLA can't overcome sluggish first half in 83-72 loss to Arizona State in Pac-12 quarterfinals

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LAS VEGAS--UCLA scored basket after basket, a runaway resembling something of a game again, when its two best players had a chance to further cut into the deficit.

Kris Wilkes came up with a steal but missed an out-of-control layup.

Jaylen Hands pulled up for a deep three-pointer but airballed it.

They were two plays that symbolized a sad ending to a dismal season. It's all mercifully over after UCLA's 83-72 loss to Arizona State on Thursday night in a Pac-12 Conference quarterfinal at T-Mobile Arena.

"You never want to see something end like that," Hands said after scoring 21 points in what could have been his final college game. "It obviously hurts a lot."

The Bruins (17-16) decided they would not accept a bid to the National Invitation Tournament, which was unlikely anyway, preferring to shift the focus to finding their next coach and learning how much of their roster will come back next season.

 

"They'll hire a very good coach, I'm sure, and hopefully there's good days ahead for me," interim coach Murry Bartow said after finishing a 21/2-month stint with a 10-10 record. "I'm sure there are."

Hands and Wilkes thanked the coaching staff for sticking with them after Steve Alford was fired in midseason and said they had not decided whether they would stick around in college for another season.

It was hard for the players to exchange goodbyes in the locker room with so much uncertainty hovering over nearly half the roster. Hands, Wilkes, Moses Brown, Chris Smith and Cody Riley all could declare for the NBA draft.

"I'm not worried about anything about the future right now," Hands said. "I'm just trying to stay with my team, stay with them now, and whatever happens, happens."

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