After a 73-67 loss before 12,312 at Pauley Pavilion, the Wildcats are no longer even the team to beat in the Pac-10, although for the moment they are ranked higher than any of their conference foes.
That will change this week, when voters see that Arizona trails UCLA by three games in the conference standings.
The Bruins retained a share of the lead by ending a four-game losing streak against the two-time defending Pac-10 champions, who didn't have the outside firepower to bring UCLA out of a zone that stymied the Wildcats.
UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said he awoke Saturday morning and decided that he didn't want the Wildcats to do to the Bruins what they had done Thursday night to USC.
In a 90-75 victory over the Trojans, the Wildcats pushed the ball inside and made 18 of 24 shots close to the basket.
Against UCLA, they found the inside was closed.
"The difference in the game was that we limited them inside, from block to block, where they really like to score," Harrick said. "They made some outside shots, but I thought we could overcome that.
"I didn't fear their guards as much as their inside players."
UCLA took a 36-21 halftime lead as Arizona made only 30.8% of its shots. The Bruins then withstood a second-half rally by the Wildcats, who pulled even with five minutes to play but never took the lead.
"We were sitting there as a coaching staff and I said, 'I just don't want them to get ahead,' " Harrick said.
"As long as we kept them tied or behind, we felt that we would be in pretty good shape."
By that, he meant that the Bruins would be able to stay packed inside, where they outrebounded the Wildcats, 39-29.
How effective was the zone?
Arizona's inside players--Brian Williams, Wayne Womack, Sean Rooks, Brian David and Ed Stokes--were a combined two of 12 in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Bruins rode the outside shooting of freshman Tracy Murray to a 15-point halftime advantage. Murray scored 14 points in the first half, making five of 11 shots, including four of eight three-pointers.
Harrick was asked if he had given Murray a green light.
"He can shoot whenever and from wherever he wants," he said.
In the second half, though, Murray went cold, missing his only three attempts, and Arizona turned up the heat.
Guard Matt Muehlebach made three three-point shots and Williams, the Wildcats' 6-11 center, worked himself free inside on occasion, making four of five shots and scoring eight of his 10 points in the last 20 minutes.
Forward Jud Buechler, who led Arizona with 17 points and 14 rebounds, scored on a layup with 5:01 left to pull the Wildcats even, 58-58.
UCLA, though, took control from that point, putting together a 9-2 run to move ahead, 67-60, with 1:15 left.
Arizona had a chance to cut the deficit to two points, or less, with 43 seconds left, but Buechler was called for charging when he collided with UCLA's Gerald Madkins while banking in a shot from the baseline.
"I'll be anxious to look at the replay later," Arizona Coach Lute Olson said.
Darrick Martin made four free throws for UCLA in the last 39 seconds, finishing with 11 points to join four teammates in double figures.
Don MacLean led the Bruins with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Murray scored 16 points. Madkins scored 12, making three of four three-point shots, and Trevor Wilson had 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
"I liked our balance," Harrick said. "I've been waiting on balanced scoring like this all year long."
UCLA improved to 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-10, ending Arizona's eight-game winning streak despite making only 43.3% of its shots.
Arizona is 9-3 and 4-3.
What did the UCLA students think of Brian Williams, Arizona's 6-11 center from Santa Monica and a preseason All-American? "Overrated," they chanted. Williams had three rebounds in 24 minutes. . . . Keith Owens again started at center for UCLA, taking one rebound in 19 minutes. . . . Kevin Walker, who made 42 consecutive starts for UCLA before being benched Thursday in favor of Owens, spent the entire game on the bench for only the seventh time in 106 games at UCLA.