LAS VEGAS —Two days in the book and two left to play in the Pac-12 tournament. Here’s today’s notebook with everything that took place yesterday.
First postseason win in nearly two years
The Arizona men's basketball team beat the Stanford Cardinal in a close battle, but more importantly got their first postseason victory since March 11, 2020. Head coach Tommy Lloyd’s team was good on the offensive end of the floor throughout the contest, but their defense couldn’t keep up. Christian Koloko had his career-high in scoring with 24 points on a terrific 10-12 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds. Bennedict Mathurin added 20 points of his own with four 3-pointers and had a few big buckets to help Arizona pull out the win.
Cardinal forward Spencer Jones led the game in scoring, where he finished the game with 28 points and eight rebounds on 12-18 shooting from the field. Stanford was also shooting the lights out from deep, making 11 3-point shots during the contest.
Arizona has now advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals for the 16th time out of their 24 appearances in the competition. This game marked their 10th straight win in the quarterfinals round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats have also moved to 4-0 in games this season that have been decided by 4 points or fewer.
Pac-12 Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner
After the first two games of Thursday’s slate of games, both the Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff and the Deputy Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich spoke to the media. They talked about the success that the tournament has had in Las Vegas and their plans for the future.
“It's exciting for me personally, to see how far it’s come,” Kliavkoff said. “It's grown over the past 10 years in Las Vegas and our student athletes and fans coming to Las Vegas for basketball tournaments have just loved the experience.”
For many years, when national college basketball media talks about the sport, they frequently leave out Pac-12 teams. That is because of the time change, and in most states where they do not have a Pac-12 team, the Pac-12 network is not available to view the games.
“I’m very happy with the numbers of games that we produce with the Pac-12 Network and quality of those games that we produce,” Kliavkoff said. “I'm not happy with the distribution of the Pac-12 Network. I’ve been very public about that, and it's part of what we're going to fix when we renegotiate our media rights at the end of the current term.”
A lot of conferences around the college sports world have started to create relationships to create big regular season matchups, and it appears the Pac-12 may me joining up with two other Power Five conferences.
“We are working with the Big Ten and ACC on some creative alliance initiatives. We're not ready to announce anything yet,” Zaninovich said. “But we hope to be able over the next year to come up with some progress there.”
Kerr Kriisa is injured
During the final minute of their second-round game against Stanford, starting point guard Kerr Kriisa injured his ankle. After the game, Lloyd didn’t have a lot of information but isn’t expecting him to be out for a long period of time.
“It’s a sprained ankle of some kind. I have no idea the severity of it, but obviously it will be a quick turnaround,” Lloyd said. “So, it will be tough. We’ll play it by ear.”
If Kriisa is unable to play in today’s game, sixth year guard Justin Kier will likely draw the starting spot. Freshman Adama Bal has started to see an increased workload and that will continue if Kriisa is sidelined for a few games. Although it will be tough for the Wildcats to play without their starting point guard, it is good news that it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending injury.
Battle of Los Angeles
The UCLA Bruins beat Washington State by 10 points and were led by Jaime Jaquez Jr., who had 23 points and 11 rebounds on 9-15 shooting from the field. Only one other starter in Jules Bernard, with 19 points, was able to score in double figures.
Los Angeles's second college basketball team, the USC Trojans, beat the University of Washington Huskies by 4 points after trailing by 7 points in the second half. Boogie Ellis was the Trojans leading scorer and he ended the contest with 17 points on 6-10 shooting from the field.
This leads us to the trilogy to the battle of Los Angeles. Both team's won on their home court this season and each game has been decided by under 10 points. This matchup will take place today at 8:30 p.m. PST/9:30 p.m. MT on FS1. The Winner of this game will face the winning team from the Arizona vs. Colorado matchup.
Preview vs. Colorado
The Wildcats are 5-1 against the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes in games that have taken place in the Pac-12 Tournament. There one and only loss to them came in the conference Championship in 2012. Most recently, the Wildcats lost to the Buffaloes by 16 points in Boulder, Colorado but today's game will take place on a neutral court.
Colorado defeated the University of Oregon by 11 points and dominated the rebounding battle 55-42. Jabari Walker and Evan Battey took over the game and the Ducks couldn't stop them. Walker had 18 points with 16 rebounds while Battey added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Arizona will need to play aggressive defense against those two players and need to make it a priority to get Koloko, Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis involved early in the game. This game is just hours away, tipping off at 6 p.m. PST/7 p.m. MT.
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