USC Basketball falls to Arizona in Pac-12 Tournament final

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The Bruins (21-10) will face No. 15 Arizona, the Pac-12's regular-season champion, on Friday.

There were struggles in his Pac-12 tournament debut-his 10 points vs. Colorado were the second-lowest total he's posted against a conference opponent. The 7-foot-1 freshman will likely match up with USC's Chimezie Metu in the conference tournament finale.

Ayton alone is a major challenge to handle, but with the Wildcats adding another 7-footer into the fold with Dusan Ristic, they can look unstoppable at times.

"He's a special talent", teammate Rawle Alkins said. "We have had incredible efforts out of our guys". He should be Player of the Year in the country. "I could certainly see (UCLA) marching past that first weekend of the (tournament)".

Mathews had 11 points early but Nick Rakocevic surged to pass him atop the scoring charts in the first half with 13 points. The Trojans led by as many as 28 points in the second half, while the Ducks never cut the deficit to less than 14.

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USC got hot shooting from Jonah Mathews in their 74-54 semifinal win over OR, with the sophomore guard scoring 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting. But Mathews was pretty ho-hum about his huge performance on a big stage.

When he addressed the media in a postgame news conference Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, no red jacket, no net hanging from anything, he just might have taken yet another step toward his best and most hard job delivering a team to the doorstep of an NCAA Tournament. "Had some open shots tonight and knocked them down".

Obviously, all eyes will be on Ayton in what could be the final Pac-12 game of his career, as he's expected to declare for the NBA Draft after the season.

In the semifinals against OR on Friday night, USC had 20 turnovers. To say nothing of the perimeter, where both teams are loaded with talent.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright opened the game for Arizona with a wide open three-pointer, but Jonah Mathews picked up where he left off after a career-high against OR, putting up nine of USC's first 15 points. The Wildcats also feature prolific scorer Allonzo Trier and the always-aggressive Rawle Alkins. Both Elijah Stewart and Jonah Matthews continued their dominance on the floor combining for 42 points and 13-for-23 from three.

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The Wildcats rank fifth in rebounds allowed per game (29.2) while the Bruins rank 202nd (36.2).

UCLA entered the Pac-12 Tournament firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

"Who is he?" Enfield cracked after the game. Ayton is projected to be a top-five pick in this year's National Basketball Association draft. He's a tremendous talent. "Our motto is: play fast, smart and unselfish". "I've been doubted all my life and when I'm challenged, I really rise to the challenge". He makes great decisions on the court, and he has long arms. "We have to lock in on defense".

Colorado used a big second-half run to beat Arizona State 97-85 in its Pac-12 opener, a game that put Boyle in a walking boot after injuring his right calf trying to break up a fight. Fans and audiences deserve better!

"All we talked about at halftime was rebounding and that was it", Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said. On the road, we hear the U of A chant quite a bit, and no question, this tournament has become a destination spot for a lot of them.

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