Tonight’s game is officially the semifinal for the Pac-12 Tournament. Unofficially, it is a game for seeding in the NCAA tournament. However, it may really be a battle between the Pac-12’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP) and the guy who should have won it. Deandre Ayton the future lottery pick was a non-factor in Arizona's first game while Aaron Holiday has scored 34 points in each of his last two games to get the UCLA Bruins into the NCAA tournament.
In some ways the two teams played similar quarterfinal games. Both games were close in the first half. It took UCLA longer to pull away than Arizona but Arizona had the bigger break when Colorado’s point guard got hurt in the second half. Arizona had 11 steals and you have to think the game would have been different in score if not the result if Colorado’s point guard had not been hurt.
That may sort of be the key for this game. How will Holiday do the next day with no rest after playing for 40 minutes in a game? In the Bruins’ win at Tuscon, UCLA’s backup point Jaylen Hands was key when he hit 3 three point bombs at the end of the first half. Jaylen is suffering from an ankle sprain that limited him to 10 minutes in the quarterfinal game, although he looked just fine.
On the Arizona side, they played defense well limiting Colorado to just 25% from three. Is this the start of trend where Sean Miller’s team play the kind of defense that has been his calling card throughout his career? Or was the better defense a product of a hurt point guard and Colorado having tired legs?
This should be a fun game to watch. Unfortunately, it will be like a road game with a lot of U of pAy fans there. When they started obnoxiously chanting “U of A” in the first round Colorado victory over ASU, Colorado fans responded with “FBI.” Hopefully, many of the other schools fans will root against the Arizona Wildcats and for UCLA. For my part, I will really be rooting extra hard for a player, Aaron Holiday. It would be karma and justice if he has a big and better game than Deandre Ayton.
Go Bruins. Beat U of pAy.