In the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, #15 Arizona (25-7) faces #8 Oregon (26-6) in a much anticipated rematch. After losing 83-75 to Oregon in late January, this game (Pac-12 Network | 7 p.m.), much like Arizona’s quarterfinal matchup against Colorado, is a matchup Arizona has been waiting for.
In the first matchup between these two teams, Arizona managed to lose a game in which they shot 61% from the field. The main reason for the loss was turnovers. Arizona committed 19 turnovers to Oregon’s 6. It is fair to assume taking care of the ball will be a major focus for the Wildcats tonight. Another point of emphasis will be overall effort. As Coach Miller said after Thursday’s game against Colorado, “..Our effort level is as bad as I’ve ever seen in the last 20 minutes”. In the last game against Oregon, Arizona came out firing in the first half, building an early lead before succumbing to the Oregon pressure over the course of the 2nd half before eventually wilting in the last few minutes.
Oregon has been carried recently and most of this season by their frontcourt, consisting predominantly of forwards Elgin Cook, Dillon Brooks, and Chris Boucher. Those three combine for 43 points and 18 rebounds a game. The threesome will provide a tough test against Ryan Anderson and Zeus on the boards, with Kadeem Allen and Mark Tollefsen likely getting a shot against the Oregon 3-man. As a team that doesn’t shoot a large number of threes, Oregon will look to get to the line often as well as pound the boards.
For Arizona, impassioned performances from its backcourt, like against Colorado, will carry the team in win-or-go-home matchups. Gabe York, Allonzo Trier, and Kadeem Allen have to continue to be the difference makers. Arizona knows what it is getting nightly from Zeus and Anderson at this point (near double-doubles at least typically). If Trier and York are hitting from the outside, everything opens up for the Wildcats offensively.
Oregon, winner of six in a row, is looking to secure a probable 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona, on the other hand, can continue to climb the proverbial (and literal) tournament ranking ladder with a top 10 win. Arizona wants to defend its Pac-12 Championship. The Arizona faithful will continue to fill the MGM Grand (“McKale North” for now, since Tempe no longer matters this season) as long as the Wildcats keep playing. One more win gets Arizona to their 5th Pac-12 Tournament Championship game in the past 6 seasons.