LOS ANGELES – When the Arizona Wildcats rolled into Los Angeles two weeks ago with the opportunity to close out the Pac-10 they left their offense at home.
The Wildcats averaged just 53 points in back-to-back losses at USC and at UCLA while Derrick Williams was held to eight and 15 points, respectively.
The 15th ranked Wildcats (25-6, 14-4) met the Oregon State Beavers (11-19, 5-13) in the Pac-10 quarterfinals where redemption was never sweeter. Arizona advanced to the semifinals with a decisive 78-69 victory over Oregon St.
Both the Beavers and Wildcats’ leading scorers came out swinging early and often. Williams, who averaged just over 13 points in his last four games, had 16 at the break to go along with five early rebounds. Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham matched the Pac-10 Player of the Year step-for-step and then some. Cunningham dropped 19 points on the Wildcats in the opening half, well over his season average of 13.9 per game.
Williams finished with 22 points and seven boards as the Wildcats went on 13-7 run to break open a 17-point lead with 7:39 to go. Wiliams made his first five three-point attempts and ended up shooting 8-12 from the field. Kevin Parrom and Lamont “MoMo” Jones added 13 points apiece while Solomon Hill collected 12 boards.
Cunningham finished with 23 points on 9-14 shooting. Ahmad Starks was the only other Beaver in double digits, dropping 17.
In a late moment of excitement, Oregon State’s Joe Burton was ejected from the game at the 10:25 mark for punching Parrom in the face. He left the game after scoring nine points. A double-technical was assessed on the play, as Arizona’s Jones was called for the other infraction.
The Wildcats will face the fifth-seeded USC Trojans in the first Pac-10 semifinal game Friday evening, with tip being scheduled for 7:00pm MT.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller said after the victory that the Trojans were “one of the top 25 or 30 teams in the country.”
The Trojans knocked off California Friday afternoon at the Staples Center 70-56.