Arizona trails USC 33-30 at halftime

12 March, 2018, 11:18 | Author: Charlene Valdez
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   Tad Boyle injures leg helping break up late-game skirmish

The Sun Devils were college basketball's last remaining undefeated team, but finished 8-10 in a weaker-than-usual Pac-12 and were bounced in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. Ayton also scored the first seven points of the extra frame that put the game away.

Thanks to Parker Jackson-Cartwright's consistent defense fronting Holiday, the Bruins' leader never could get a clear lane to the basket. The Wildcats held the Buffaloes to an offensive rebounding percentage of 13.3 (below their season average of 29.8) and had a turnover percentage of 9.8 (better than their season average of 16.0).

"We had a three-point lead at halftime in a Pac-12 championship", USC coach Andy Endfield said.

"McKinley's a warrior", Boyle said. "They went on that run, and it was kind of all she wrote".

When he addressed the media in a postgame news conference Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, no red jacket, no net hanging from anything, he just might have taken yet another step toward his best and most hard job delivering a team to the doorstep of an NCAA Tournament. He's dating a former Arizona soccer player.

"HOW IT HAPPENED: After a close first half, the Buff appeared ready to take the game down to the wire". "We had zero offensive rebounds".

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"He is unbelievable, and I've said it all along". "I just came down on it very awkwardly". UCLA ranks 183rd in assists allowed per game (14.0). The Buffs didn't help their cause, committing three turnovers in the stretch, each of which the Wildcats converted into buckets. "We're going to have our hands full".

Colorado (17-15) managed to hang with the Wildcats well into the second half despite playing a tough opening-round game the day before. And that 14-0 run is a great example of that. While we know the Wildcats are good, Ayton is the reason they could be unstoppable. "We made a fair share of mistakes, but I love the way we played offensively". With 4:29 left in the first half, Metu subbed out after picking up a second foul and USC leading by a score of 25-22.

USC got hot shooting from Jonah Mathews in their 74-54 semifinal win over OR, with the sophomore guard scoring 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting. They will now wait until Sunday to see if they earn that NIT bid. "I think we're probably on the outside looking in, but I'm hopeful". Once Ayton got going, there was no slowing him down. There's a committee that's made up of smart people that will look at everything and if they feel like we're deserving, we'll be invited and we'll go. USC shot 50 percent from the field but hit just 1 of 6 3-pointers.

QUOTEWORTHY: "This has been an enjoyable group to coach".

Ayton shot 61 percent from the floor and was a force on the defensive end as well, finishing with 59 blocked shots to tie for seventh-most in conference history by a freshman. Arizona is in the tournament final for the fourth time in the last five years and the 11th time in 21 tries overall. The Wildcats knocked off Colorado this afternoon and gets a matchup against UCLA as they hope to win the Pac-12 tournament.

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Big surprise - Pac-12 Player of the Year Deandre Ayton played a massive role in Arizona's thrilling victory on Friday.

The lead swelled to 10 points with under six to play on another Ayton alley-oop dunk supplied by Dusan Ristic.

He added that Ristic was not called for a foul and called it a "big advantage". Holiday entered Friday's game averaging 20.1 points and 5.8 assists.

But this sort of offense - can shoot the 3 from all five spots, has an elite rebounder in Thomas Welsh, is led by one of the nation's best guards in Aaron Holiday - can win more than its share of games.

McLaughlin scored USC's next seven points as the Trojans trimmed it down to six points, but Rustic and Ayton quickly dragged the deficit up to 12. He followed that up by dropping 32 points and grabbing 18 boards in the championship game against USC Saturday night. He has 12 career double-figure scoring games, with eight coming in the last 11 contests.

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