We knew the games were going to be good. It’s championship time and this was the semifinals. But that? Stanley’s three. Kevon’s three. Both Brandon’s games. Norman’s night. Delon and then Joseph. Let’s have a championship.
#1 Arizona vs. #4 UCLA
With 43-seconds remaining in the 2014 Pac-12 championship game, Jordan Adams hit a three. The game had previously been tied at 68. UCLA won that game, 75-71.
With 39-seconds remaining in the 2015 Pac-12 semifinal game, Stanley Johnson hit a three. The game had previously been 63-61, Arizona led. Arizona won that game, 70-64.
We of course already knew history was at play here but that? A repeat of the heat? The Wildcats exercised some demons in dismissing the Bruins from this tournament. Following the game both coaches noted the rivalry as well as UCLA’s tournament prospects. Consensus is: Should be in. But interestingly enough, as we’ve spent the last few weeks watching everyone else for UCLA’s sake, it was Arizona’s eyes that could wander to games far, far away with their sights set on things like a one-seed. Both Duke and Virginia lost meaning the Pac-12 championship game could be for the West’s top-seed.
A Stat: 19 points, 7 boards, on 72% shooting. That’s Brandon Ashley in March who returned to the U of A for his junior year with “unfinished business.” Stay thirsty, my friend.
And another stat: Going to deviate here and call out a moment. With 12:09 remaining, Norman Powell made another bullying layup and the Bruins were up 47-40. Arizona called timeout, got a bucket and some stops and the MGM Grand Arena loudly involved. All night long Arizona had struggled to penetrate UCLA’s zone. Kevon Looney and Gyrogi Goloman were the head of the 3-2 monster and that length was disruptive to Arizona’s motion and ball movement. But TJ McConnell found space, drove the lane for an uncontested layup and tied the game, 47-47. There was 9:37 remaining and Arizona would then outscore UCLA 23-17 the rest of the way. And sticking with our historical theme, on February 21, TJ McConnell hit a jumper with 10:04 remaining to pull Arizona within one of the Bruins, 38-39. From that point forward, Arizona would outscore the Bruins, 19-8.
Observed: I loved this picture:
This game is too exciting for Nick Johnson pic.twitter.com/yAsJKpfeFO
— Matt Moreno (@MattGOAZCATS) March 14, 2015
#2 Oregon vs. #3 Utah
JOSEPH YOUNG JUST DID THAT #pac12hoops
— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) March 14, 2015
JOSEPH YOUNG! ONIONS! OREGON WINS! 67-64! WOW
— Pacific Takes (@PacificTakes) March 14, 2015
Pac 12 player of the year @JoeyBuckets3 , big shot sir!!!
— Aaron Brooks (@Thirty2zero) March 14, 2015
OMG wowwww congrats @OregonMBB
— Arsalan Kazemi (@kazemiworld) March 14, 2015
And another stat: 24 points. That was a career high for Brandon Taylor who is the fifth notable player to set a career high in this tournament (Brandon Ashley, Elijah Stewart, David Kravish, Isaac Hamilton)
Observed: I love watching this stuff for greatness. So I loved watching last night’s game because Delon Wright and Joe Young were equally great. Sure I made hubbub about Wright v. Young as a battle for the POY award. And you know what? They both earned it.
- Young: 117 ORtg, 25 pts, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 8-16 FG, 7-7 FT, that shot
- Wright: 137 ORtg, 16 pts, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-8 FG, 5-7 FT, those free throws
Both guys were clutch down the stretch, making big plays in the biggest moments. Of course they’re human, too. Young committed a quesiontable charge that yielded possession to Utah with 14 ticks remaining and Wright didn’t do much to challenge Young down the court on the final play (ball pressure anyone?).
Up Next: A chance to validate all of Oregon’s awards. A second tournament title in three years. A five seed in the NCAA tournament. I mean…nets!