Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/25/12
TUCSON -- It seemed only fitting that Arizona seniors would be the keys to victory against UCLA on Saturday. The big three -- Kyle Fogg, Brendon Lavender and Jesse Perry -- all played a part in a 65-63 win at McKale Center in front of 14,724 fans on senior day. It was the fifth-largest crowd in the 30-year history of the building. "Each one of them contributed mightily to our victory," Arizona coach Sean Miller said of his seniors. Even little-used senior Alex Jacobson played after having seen just a handful of minutes all season. Lavender finished with five points, Perry had 16 points and eight rebounds and Fogg had 20 points and nine rebounds, one short of making it three consecutive double-doubles. "Like Ive said before, when he goes, they go," UCLA guard Jerime Anderson said of his good friend Fogg. "He really gained momentum, especially in the second half. He started making shots and free throws, and you could tell the energy was increasing in the team. Hes a good player, always has been." Fogg has undoubtedly come a long way, both offensively and defensively. The latter probably goes understated too much, particularly given his concentration on offense last summer, shooting nearly 40,000 shots to improve that area of his game. Miller said Foggs defensive effort against UCLA scoring leader Lazeric Jones "cant be lost on this game." It wasnt. Jones went just 1 for 12 from the field and finished with just two points, 11 under his season average. "Kyle has improved as much as a defensive player as much as any player that Ive coached," Miller said. "His wherewithal, his intelligence and his quickness and intensity ... he really deserves to be on any all-defensive team thats voted on. From a perimeter perspective, hes done it in every game weve played, minus just a few blips on the screen." Fogg was the best player on the court Saturday, Miller said. He clearly was the best in the second half. He scored 16 points in the games final 10 minutes and had 13 of UAs 19 points in the final six minutes. "Thats one of the games Ill never forget," Fogg said. "The guys went out there and really battled, and it came down to the last seconds." Not without a little drama, of course. Again, Fogg played a part. After hitting five consecutive free throws to get Arizona within one at 53-52, Fogg missed one that allowed UCLA to retain the lead. But a half-minute later, he got to the line again and hit both shots to give Arizona its first lead since the 12-minute mark of the second half. Then, with 53 seconds left, he hit a big 3-pointer to extend the UA lead to 63-57. UCLA never faded, though, and Fogg missed one of his two attempts with 12 seconds left to allow UCLA to stay with three at 64-61 with 12 seconds left. In the foul-filled final seconds, Fogg missed one more free throws and made one. "Ive been in that situation a lot, and that could have cost us the game," Fogg said of late-game free throws. "Thats on me to go there and knock them down. Guys put that trust on me to go knock them down. I have to go finish it." UCLA had a chance to tie it or win it, but Anderson missed an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer, giving Arizona its 21st win of the season. That assures UA will stay in at least third place in the Pac-12 at 12-5 in conference play. "Im proud of our record and how we got here," Miller said. When asked if he felt his team was as a unique a team as hes ever had that was 12-5 in a conference race, Miller matter-of-factly said "yes." That might be due to way his team reached its current mark: Arizona will have gone 7-1 in the month of February after going 4-4 in January. "I use the word 'mountain' because weve been on this climb," Miller said of the season. "You take a step and all of a sudden a rock hits you and you fall 50 feet, and you get back up and you keep climbing. Thats what weve done. Weve stayed with it. Were playing excellent basketball for our team." And, of course, Miller specifically praised his seniors "You like to see the seniors step up and get better, Miller said. "This team, more than any team Ive been a part of, has been a function of the seniors just leading and playing exceptional basketball in the end. It makes us feel good seeing these guys finish off what they started a long time ago."
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