FINAL: No. 18 Arizona advances to Pac-12 tournament semifinals in 79-69 win over Colorado
Wildcats to face UCLA Friday
LAS VEGAS – No. 18 Arizona led by as many as 14 in Thursday’s 79-69 to Colorado in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“We respect them a great deal,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “They take a lot of pride in man-to-man defense. When you have similarities, many times, the game plays itself out like it did today.”
Senior guard Mark Lyons struggled for most of the game, shooting just 4-13 with 14 points and three assists. Luckily for the Wildcats, sophomore Nick Johnson and junior Jordin Mayes were there to pick up the slack in the UA’s backcourt.
Johnson scored a team-high 18 points and also contributed three assists and one steal in 35 minutes of action. The player that stole the show most for the UA was Mayes however. After averaging less than two points per game conference play during the regular season, Mayes added eight points on 3-of-7 shooting off the bench and took a charge in the second half that resulted in points for Arizona.
“Jordin gave us a spark,” MIller said. “His confidence started to come back around in L.A. You could sense he was starting to feel good about his shot. He just got into a rut over a couple months and wasn’t able to get himself out of it.”
The Arizona lead ballooned to as much as 14 early in the second half, at 54-40, but CU went on a 7-0 run in less than a minute that cut the lead in half. At the 2:27 mark in the second half, Arizona had been outscored 24-14 since holding the lead.
Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored 32 total points in the team’s first two matchups, added 13 alone in the second half and 18 points for the game.
“They just played solid defense, it wasn’t anything special,” Dinwiddie said. “They did a great job team defensively the whole game.”
The Wildcats’ shooting percentage in the second half remained consistent with that of the first half, as the Wildcats shot 45.2 percent from the floor and made five 3-pointers.
Colorado’s Askia Booker and Mark Lyons traded 3-pointers in back-to-back posessions with less than two minutes remaining, after Solomon Hill saved a would-be turnover, keeping the game in reach for CU.
CU’s Andre Roberson was called for an offensive foul with the score 73-69 with less than 35 seconds on the clock, which led to intentional fouls for the Wildcats. Senior Mark Lyons drained two shots, putting the lead at 75-69 and Johnson blocked a Booker 3-point attempt.
Arizona will face UCLA Friday at 6 p.m. in the third matchup between the two schools, UCLA having won both. The Bruins are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and eliminated Arizona State 80-75 in Thursday’s first quarterfinal game.
The Wildcats have reached the conference tournament game in each of the last two seasons, but have lost both times. To make it back a third consecutive year, the Wildcats will first have to get through UCLA, but a conference tournament title would be something sweet for senior Solomon Hill.
“It would mean everything,” Hill said. “I’ve been telling the fellas it’s one game at a time. It would mean everything for me to win everything here.”