Arizona men's basketball holds on to beat USC and move into second in the conference
After struggling during his last couple of games from the field, Josh Green helped lead the way, especially in the first half, as the Wildcats took down USC 85-80 at McKale Center Thursday night.
Green had 18 points on 6-11 shooting, and he made 2 3-pointers. It was one of his best games of the year and it’s something he can hope to build off moving forward.
“It was great to see him play well,” head coach Sean Miller said. "He's really been practicing, and he's practiced well and hard, and I think his heart is in the right place. It's not easy when you struggle as a young player, but he's gone about things the right way, and man, I was just happy to see him play the way he played tonight. He really saved us."
Arizona went up by 10 early in the first half, but USC wouldn’t go away as they closed the lead nearing the end of the half. But Green and Zeke Nnaji opened up the lead again for the Wildcats after a couple dunks and layups, and Arizona was up 10 at half time.
Throughout the week Sean Miller kept mentioning how important rebounding is going to be since USC is one of the best in the conference at offensive rebounding. Just at halftime alone Arizona held a 9-5 advantage in offensive rebounds and 21-14 in total rebounds.
The second half saw more of the same from the Wildcats, including them getting almost every single loose ball. There was a minute span that saw Green on the ground multiple times fighting for the ball and one time led to a big Nnaji dunk.
About halfway through the second half, however, USC started to mount a comeback and got the game back to within 10 with seven minutes left. The Trojans were led by Nick Rakocevic, who could not miss in the second half and finished with 18 points.
Arizona eventually closed out the game by finally making some clutch free throws, but it wasn't easy to get to that point. The Wildcats went 28-40 from the line, which is 70%.
"We prepare for every game the same way and we'll get back at it tomorrow, shoot a lot of free throws, watch film and be smart with the way we rest our bodies," Lee said about what Arizona has to do before the UCLA game.
This was a big win for Arizona, as they are now a half game ahead of USC for second place in the conference, with only Oregon and Colorado in front of them. The Wildcats will be back on Saturday to host UCLA at 8:00 p.m. at McKale Center.
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