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Jackson-Cartwright puts Aaron Holiday on an island

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat UCLA's Aaron Holiday (3) looks for a teammate to pass to past Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright (0) in the first half of the Arizona-UCLA Semifinal game at the 2018 Pac-12 Tournament on Friday, March 9 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

LAS VEGAS -- For 38 minutes of court time in a Pac-12 semifinal game, Arizona point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright fought tooth and nail with one of the Pac-12’s most electric players in UCLA’s Aaron Holiday and delivered his best defensive effort as a Wildcat. 

The senior guard needed all 5-11, 170 pounds of his frame to matchup with his explosive counterpart and Jackson-Cartwright’s performance once again proved how invaluable he is to this Arizona team as looks to win back-to-back Pac-12 Tournament titles. 

Holiday couldn’t so much as breathe without seeing a face full or handful of Jackson-Cartwright in his way. 

“I take it personal when he (Sean Miller)  puts me on guys that the other team thinks they can take advantage of me,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “I just use my quickness and really beat him to his spots and make him take tough shots.”

On any other night, Holiday will score 20 points, make nearly 50 percent of his shots and 45 percent of his 3-pointers. However, Arizona’s defensive catalyst had other plans. 

The same player who scored 34 points in his last two games games was limited to just 15 points and a lowly 25 percent field goal percentage while matched-up with PJC. Holiday also only made 3-12 3-pointers, including missing the potential game-winning shot where a leaping Jackson-Cartwright made it difficult for a clean look.  

Jackson-Cartwright had his hands on Holiday every time he touched the ball and even had two steals for the ‘Cats.

“Parker, he really met the challenge,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “There aren’t many guards that can play the minutes Parker did, 38, and defend Holiday at the level that he defended him from start to finish.”

The mistake Arizona made in the first game vs UCLA was letting Allonzo Trier matchup for Holiday for parts of the game and UCLA’s guard made the Wildcats pay for it. 

“He (Miller) said after the first game I should’ve guarded him the whole game,” Jackson-Cartwright said. 

This time, the senior guard was stuck to Holiday’s hip like glue and his teammates provided help on double-team assignments periodically. The result was a mixture of contested jumpers and passes from Holiday, and it worked.

“They did a great job on defense getting the ball out of my hands,” Holiday said. 

Without the effort brought forth from its senior leader, UCLA is probably headed to the Pac-12 Championship instead of Arizona. But behind a heroic defensive effort and three 3-pointers on the offensive end, Jackson-Cartwright will lead Arizona into its fourth championship game in five years. 


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