The #17 ranked Arizona Wildcats rounded off their sweep of the Los Angeles schools by getting revenge over #23 ranked USC after hanging on to an 86-80 victory at the McKale Center. This win also moved to a tie for first place with Oregon in the PAC-12.
Cats start strong
Arizona dominated the opening 20 minutes of tonight’s basketball game against the University of Southern California. One of the biggest ways in which this was accomplished was how they utilized their big men against a slightly undersized Trojan squad.
Ryan Anderson made up for his poor game against USC the last time they played each other by dominating down low, using his physicality to his advantage finishing the first half with eight points, with none of those coming from the free throw line. Then it was Kaleb Tarczewskai who got active underneath the basket grabbing five defensive rebounds and really pestered the Trojan big men as well.
With the Wildcats dominating the play underneath, they were able to kick the ball back out to a deeper part of the rim which opened up the mid- and long-range jump shot. As a result of both, Sean Miller’s team shot an astounding 54% from the field and made 20 of their 37 shot attempts.
The start of the second half felt very strange. While the refs did start blowing their whistles a bit more than what they did in the first half, it felt like neither side really got any momentum going.
That is until Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit the first big shot after the break which extended Arizona’s lead to 18 and it felt like the Wildcats were going to cruise for the rest of the game. But yet, the Trojans maintained within touching difference, answering down the other side of the court with a momentum crushing shot of their own.
Freshman sensation takes over late
Then, it was Allonzo Trier who started to take over the game. He hauled down a big rebound and went coast to coast before laying in a shot that brought the McKale Center crowd back to life. The freshman is taking over the middle part of this second half, scoring his teams last six points, giving him double figures.
Julian Jacobs though finished beautifully at the rack and drew a foul in the process and completed the three point play to keep his school close to their opposition. Bennie Boatwright and Jordan McLaughlin went on to drain monster three pointers in back-to-back possessions for the Trojans to cut the lead to two points but that would be the closest they would get to tie the game up again.
Trier’s first three point of the game came with less than five minutes to go, in front of his own bench, and extended Arizona’s lead to eight points. Kadeem Allen floater pushed the Wildcatsadvantage back to ten points which would prove to be the final turning point as the Trojans went on a 0-9 shooting run to close out the game, unable to comeback in an extremely tough environment.
USC’s biggest downfall tonight was their inability to consistently make their easy shots. On the night, they shot the ball 16 more times than Arizona did, however, the Trojans made only two more than their counterparts. From beyond the three point line they were abysmal, shooting 44%. This program is still young and trending in the right direction and should be competing for the conference championship over the next several seasons.
Arizona plays their next game, a Wednesday night home game, against their instate rivals Arizona State. Meanwhile, USC will need to find their confidence again after getting swept in Arizona as their schedule does not get any tougher, welcoming in Colorado and Utah this coming week.