Arizona beats Cal 66-54 on senior night to win the Pac-12 regular season championship
With yet another dominating performance from Deandre Ayton, Arizona men's basketball cut down the nets Saturday after pulling out a ugly 66-54 win over Cal and winning the Pac-12 regular season championship in the McKale Center.
"We fought, scratched and clawed all the way through," head coach Sean Miller said. "Very gratifying to be able to do it, especially in front of our fans."
The final game of the regular season featured Arizona, the No. 1 team in the Pac-12, going against Cal, the last team in the Pac-12. But it didn't feel that way.
The game was close all the way down to the final four minutes. Arizona ended up winning by double-digits, but only because the Wildcats managed to pull off a game-saving 12-1 run at the tail end of the game.
"I really think we are a team that closes games well," Miller said. "I hope that continues for us, because every game moving forward will have that feeling at the four minute media timeout."
Arizona struggled to score for the majority of the game. Allonzo Trier shot an unusual 1-for-10 and finished with two points while Dusan Ristic shot an equally uncharacteristic 1-of-9 and finished with six points.
The off night could have been due to the events that have recently surrounded Arizona basketball.
In the past two weeks, Arizona learned that its second best player was suspended for banned drug use, and that its head coach would not be with the team after a ESPN report said Miller had talked about paying $100,000 to recruit Deandre Ayton.
Two days before the final game of the regular season, Miller announced that he would return to the team and the NCAA accepted a appeal allowing Trier to return as well.
"Everybody is just drained, mentally, physically," Parker Jackson-Cartwright said. "Everybody is just a little worn down, mentally it takes a toll on you when you are dealing with stuff like that, like what we went through all week."
Deandre Ayton was the savior for Arizona. He led the way for with 26 points and a career high 20 rebounds, as well as broke the record for the most points by a freshman in Arizona history. He has now scored 616 points, 26 more than the previous record held by Jerryd Bayless.
Rawle Alkins followed Ayton with 15 points, while the rest of the team had a uncharacteristically poor shooting night. Emmanuel Akot, Brandon Randolph and Keanu Pinder finished with a combined two points.
Overall, Arizona shot 39 percent from the floor, but only 27 percent in the second half. Jackson-Cartwright and Dylan Smith picked up some of the slack for Arizona, finishing with 14 points combined.
On defense, Arizona struggled to defend Cal inside the paint, where the Golden Bears scored all but nine points.
The Wildcats also had a hard time containing Cal forward Justice Sueing throughout the game. He shot 8-of-13 and finished with 17 points and five rebounds.
Arizona moves on to play either ASU or Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas Thursday Mar. 8.
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