Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 Pac-12 Tournament Teaser: Day 4

VEGAS, The Pac-12 Tournament, March 14th --

Chalk reigned, once again, on day three of the Pac-12 Tournament, but not as overwhelmingly as it did in the quarterfinals.  The two top seeds, Arizona and Oregon, each survived to live another day (by the skin of their teeth) to set up a dramatic final on Championship Saturday.

In the opening game, Arizona saw their first test in weeks from the UCLA Bruins, who held a solid lead deep into the second half.  The underdog utilized a changeup 3-2 zone to confuse the 'Cats, holding them to 36% shooting in the first half.  Suddenly, the physical, slashing Arizona offense was reduced to a jump shooting apostay.  While UCLA struggled with foul trouble, and the 'Zona defense stayed formidable, it at least made an upset conceivable.

The inevitable - a dramatic, table-turning run from Arizona - always seemed to loom, however.  Eventually, the moment came, as the 'Cats raced into a 15-0 sprint midway through the second half to turn a seven point Bruins' advantage into a 55-47 Arizona lead.  Based on the efforts of Brandon Ashley, who's having one of the best runs in Vegas, momentum was flipped on its head.  UCLA still had some fight left in them, and even brought it back to within two with 20 seconds to play, but the Wildcats hit their free throws to win a 70-64 final.

In the night cap, a back-and-forth affair between Utah (the lower seed, but betting favorite) and Oregon stayed tight until the end.  Neither team ever pulled away by more than six, and the fans were treated to seven ties and four lead changes.  With the Utes only leading by one at the break, this one had all the makings of a dramatic finish.

Just as they had against Colorado, Oregon would utilize a second half surge to gain an advantage.  They upped their shooting percentage to 58% from the floor, and cracked down on the Utes' three point looks. This flip helped make up Utah's dominance on the glass, where they were +12.   In the end, it was the Joe Young show, who capped his 25 point performance with a game-winning three pointer in the final seconds. 67-64, Oregon.  Bring on the 'ship.


Today's action

- #1 Arizona vs #2 Oregon - 9pm MT, ESPN - 

The Ducks are hotter than hot right now.  With Joe Young scoring seemingly at will, they've looked like the two-seed they earned in the regular season.  The Wildcats are an intimidating presence, however, and will only further leverage the rebounding deficiency that Oregon showed against Utah.  Between the length, activity, and physicality of the Arizona defenders, I just don't see a way that the Ducks can pull this off, even if Young goes bonkers.  Give me Arizona - maybe not to cover, but to finally break through in the Pac-12 Tournament.

No comments: