Today’s games had a few “nail biter” moments, but in the end, there were no real surprises.
Beginning with eighth seeded Arizona State and one seed Oregon, the Sun Devils were able to match the Ducks basket for basket in the first half, but a major defensive push in the second half gave Oregon the win, 80-57. Even though senior Torian Graham had 32 points and made seven 3-pointers, Oregon took the game mainly because the rest of the Sun Devils starters were a combined 5 for 30 from the floor.
In the only game so far where the lower seeded team won, fourth seeded Utah and fifth seeded Cal faced off next, with Cal barely hanging on to win 78-75. Cal led by 11 with 2:17 left, but Utah closed the gap, closing the score to 73-72 with 29 seconds left. Jabari Bird had 26 points for the night and with only 14 seconds remaining, scored on a key three-point play to keep the Bears in the lead. Utah's Sedrick Barefield missed a wild 3-pointer at the buzzer, which sealed the win for Cal.
Oregon and Cal will face off tomorrow at 6:00 pm PT in the first game of the semifinals.
Second seeded Arizona took on the seventh seeded Colorado Buffaloes, and while the Buffs came out strong in the first half, the Wildcats brought home the win with a score of 92-78. Arizona shot 56 percent, made 10 3-pointers, and really stepped up their defense, and consequently Colorado never got closer than a nine point deficit in the second half. Lauri Markkanen recorded 20 points and Allonzo Trier added 19.
In a conference rivalry rematch, the third seeded UCLA Bruins took on the sixth seeded Southern Cal Trojans in the next installment of Nirya’s aptly named Revenge Tour. UCLA kept a comfortable lead in the first half, even though the refs were calling a tight game and Lonzo Ball was pulled when get got into foul trouble. With a late surge, Southern Cal was able to bring it within three by halftime. The second half was a different story, and actually caused some of us to start stress eating (Southern Cal head coach Andy Enfield even had to take his jacket off). Shooting dropped off for the Bruins in the second half (38%) and actually increased for Southern Cal (46%). The Trojans never took the lead but kept it close, and our Bruins remained victorious for another day, taking the game 76-74.
Arizona and UCLA will meet up in the late game at 8:30 pm PT in the semifinals.
Here is an updated bracket, courtesy of the Pac 12: