It wasn’t over before it started, but No. 5 Arizona did everything in their power to put California to bed early Thursday night, destroying the Golden Bears 99-60 to clinch their second straight Pac-12 regular season title.
Led by senior guard T.J. McConnell, who tied a career-high with 11 assists, the Wildcats dominated Cal from the outset, using a 9-0 run near the 12-minute mark of the first half to extend a two-point lead and never looked back.
Six ‘Cats scored in double figures, spearheaded by junior forward Brandon Ashley’s 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Arizona now sets their sights on Sin City and the Pac-12 Tournament, earning a No. 1 seed with a first-round bye to the quarterfinals when the tourney begins in earnest Wednesday, March 11.
Let’s take a look at what the Wildcats’ win looked like, by the numbers.
The number of assists by Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, which tied a career-high. Despite only scoring eight points, McConnell controlled the game, routinely finding open shooters for easy buckets. His zero turnovers made Thursday night’s effort all the more impressive, as McConnell even drew comparisons to Pete Maravich and Jerry West from the always level-headed Bill Walton during ESPN’s telecast of the game.
“11 assists and no turnovers puts you in an amazing category.” Sean Miller on McConnell
— Shannon Lembeck (@ShannonGOAZCATS) March 6, 2015
The combined field goal percentage of Arizona low-post threats Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski. With McConnell at the controls of the Wildcat offense, Ashley and Tarczewski had an efficient field day in the paint, contributing 21 and 14 points, respectively.
With the win over Cal, Arizona clinches its 14th conference championship in school history. The win also marks the second straight regular season title for head coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats.
Paced by 11 points each off the bench courtesy of Gabe York and Dusan Ristic, Arizona’s bench outscored Cal’s 34-16. The ‘Cats are now 21-0 when their reserves outscore the opponents’ bench.
The total amount of time that Arizona trailed Cal during Thursday’s contest.