LOS ANGELES - If UCLA needed more proof its program is on the upswing, the 14th-ranked Bruins got it with their largest margin of victory over Arizona since 1983.
Arron Afflalo scored a career-high 27 points and UCLA survived a second-half drought for an 84-73 victory Saturday, the Bruins’ first win at home over the Wildcats in four years.
‘‘We’re heading in a positive direction, but the sweep over Arizona doesn’t mean we’re there,’’ Afflalo said.
The Bruins (19-4, 9-2) increased their lead in the Pac-10 to two games over California and Stanford.
They swept Arizona for the first time since 1996-97.
The victory was salve for a UCLA program that suffered 35- and 36-point defeats to the Wildcats in 2002-03, Steve Lavin’s final season as coach.
Last month, UCLA won in Tucson 85-79, its first victory there in nine years.
‘‘I’m excited for our team,’’ Howland said. ‘‘It was a great win. Our defense was so active.’’
Besides Afflalo, whose previous best was 23 against Stanford on Dec. 29, three of UCLA’s starters were in double figures. Jordan Farmar had 13 points, Ryan Hollins 12 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute 11.
Farmar sprained his left ankle, but Howland said he didn’t think it was serious.
Arizona (13-9, 6-5) dropped its third straight conference game for the first time since February 1984, coach Lute Olson’s first season in Tucson. The Wildcats fell to 1-5 against ranked opponents this season.
‘‘We’ll be judged on how we finish rather than how we’re doing right now,’’ Olson said. ‘‘I feel confident we’re going to finish well.’’
Hassan Adams led Arizona with 19 points, while Kirk Walters added 14 and Ivan Radenovic 13.
‘‘That’s a big loss,’’ said Adams, who had three turnovers in the game’s opening minutes. ‘‘This is one of those heartbreakers. This is one we really wanted, we really needed.’’
As dominant as the Bruins were in leading by 20 in the first half, they saw Arizona hammer away in the second half and reduce a 24-point deficit to seven.
The Wildcats shot 58 percent for the game, highest of any UCLA opponent this season, and used an effective zone defense to briefly shut down the Bruins.
UCLA scored the first eight points of the second half before Arizona ran off 12 in a row as part of a 24-7 run. Adams was a big part of the Wildcats’ resurgence, scoring 10 in the spurt that got them to 65-58 with 7:43 remaining.
‘‘We played a good 25 minutes,’’ Olson said. ‘‘As soon as we learn to play 40 minutes, we’re going to be pretty good.’’
The Bruins broke the game open with a 26-9 firsthalf run that gave them a 35-16 lead. Afflalo had eight points in the spurt, which included two technicals against Arizona. Olson got the first one when he ranted at the referees during a timeout about a holding call on Adams.