The showdown between the Pac-12's top two freshmen lived up to the hype. UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Arizona State's Jahii Carson traded...
LAS VEGAS — The showdown between the Pac-12’s top two freshmen lived up to the hype. UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and Arizona State’s Jahii Carson traded big shots, and thrilling plays.
They even got into a little skirmish near the end of the Bruins’ 80-75 victory that included shoving, an exchange of harsh words and a kick.
“Yeah, he did kick me,” Muhammad said of Carson. “He’s a competitor and he’s mad they lost. So I mean, that’s what it is.”
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When UCLA tried to run out the clock, Muhammad got tangled with ASU guard Carrick Felix near the Sun Devils bench. Carson jumped in to separate them and the fracas escalated.
Muhammad picked up a personal foul while Carson was given a technical foul.
“I think Shabazz was a little excited and energized and tried to make some ruckus with Carrick,” Carson said. “I just tried to separate everything because Carrick is not the type of guy to get into a ruckus.
“Emotions were high. Shabazz thought he made a dirty play, but it wasn’t that at all.”
The skirmish underscored an intense battle between the players who shared the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year award.
Carson followed his 34-point outing Wednesday with another dazzling performance. He finished with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Muhammad countered with 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists.
Arizona’s fans win
the vocal battle
Considering Arizona and Colorado led the conference in attendance, a near sellout at the 13,151-seat MGM Grand Arena wasn’t unexpected.
Still, Wildcats fans outnumbered Buffaloes supporters nearly three to one.
“Felt kind of like a home game,” Arizona forward Solomon Hill said. “We’re not too far from Tucson. It makes for a great atmosphere.
“Colorado did a great job of bringing their fans too, but our fans were a little bit louder tonight.”
Pac-12 officials are anticipating another near sellout Friday when No. 1 seed UCLA plays No. 4 Arizona in the semifinals.
A new look
UCLA unveiled its new Adidas-designed uniforms Thursdays to mixed reviews.
Coach Ben Howland said players raved about the colorful ensemble that features gray and white camouflage print shorts and short-sleeve jerseys. They also liked how light the material felt.
Still, don’t expect to see the uniforms again any time soon.
“I’m 55, but I’m hip,” Howland said. “I’m cool, you know? But we’re going back to our traditional jersey tomorrow.”
The Bruins are one of six college men’s basketball teams wearing the new-look design by Adidas.
“Adidas is unbelievably great to us,” Howland said. “They’re incredibly supportive. They take care of all of our teams and do a fantastic job. So this is a marketing thing for them and we’re happy to help them in any way we can.”
• Arizona advanced to the conference semifinals for the third straight year. The Wildcats lost in the finals to Washington in 2011 and in the finals to Colorado last year.
• Arizona State junior center Jordan Bachynski collected three blocks to set the Pac-12 season record with 116. He broke the mark held by former ASU player Mario Bennett, who had 115.