Breakdown: ‘Cats move to Pac-12 Championship
The Lowdown: Throughout the first half of this Pac-12 Tournament
semifinal matchup, Arizona head coach Sean Miller had to be
thinking “Did Oregon State really do us a favor knocking off
Washington?” Early on the Beavers were all over the Wildcats
jumping out by as much as nine points. The Beavers’ quick launch
was fueled by Jared Cunningham and Devon Collier, who combined
for 22 first half points.
Solomon Hill’s shooting kept Arizona in the game during the first
half. Hill hit two more threes on his way to 11 first half points. The
Wildcats were in striking distance down 34-27.
The second half was another story as the Beavers ran out of gas
just as the Wildcats filled up. Behind solid team, play, U of A came
out strong with a 20-5 run early in the second half. Inside-outside
play was the key for Arizona as Nick Johnson, Brendon Lavender,
and Kyle Fogg all hit threes in the first 5:40 of the second. Jesse
Perry played tough in the paint to balance out the attack.
With 5:20 to go in the game, the Wildcats had a comfortable 60-46
lead when Hill was called for a foul. After the play he questioned
the referee and was given a technical foul. Before that play Hill had
three fouls already – simple math makes that sequence fouls four
and five. Hill was done for the night at the same time he gave the
Beavers hope as they cut the lead to 11 after the three free throws
by Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson.
Senior leader Kyle Fogg took on the challenge scoring five straight
points to put away the Beavers late for the 72-61 win. This was an
improbable win for Arizona against the darling Cinderella in Oregon
State, who had won back-to-back games in the tournament,
including a surprising win over top-seeded Washington Thursday.
The way this team played in Tempe for the final regular season
game was indicative of a team that was done. This Wildcat team has
plenty of fight left in them.
What went right for Arizona? Collectively as a unit, the
team played stellar team defense in the second half giving up only
27 points (20 from the field), 2-7 three point shooting, and forced
When it was over? With 4:27 to go, Fogg hit a jumper that
was an emotional one in response to Hill’s ejection. That shot
stopped any momentum that may have been gained by the Beavers
after the technical.
Who stepped up for Arizona? Kyle Fogg was upset with
himself after the ASU loss stating that he missed shots down the
stretch that he should have made. Tonight he didn’t. He was the
star for Arizona with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Stat of the Game: Ahmad Starks was a stud for Oregon
State in their upset of Washington and was held in check on 1-7
shooting finishing with 4 points and one assist.
They said it: “If you watch us closely, like a lot of you do,
when we’re at our best is when we can create transition
opportunities off of our defense. We call it defense to offense. It’s
fast.”–Arizona head coach Sean Miller, on the decisive second
What it means: With Washington losing in their first game
of the conference tournament, most experts pegged the Pac-12 as
a one-bid league. The way Arizona has played during the
tournament may remind the committee how well this team has
played this season on their way to a 23-10 (14-6) record.
What’s Next: It is off to the inaugural Pac-12
Championship for the Wildcats. They’ll play Colorado, a team they
split with this season.