Pac-12 men’s tournament: Arizona holds off Stanford; Colorado beats Oregon
Christian Koloko scored 24 points, Bennedict Mathurin added 20 and No. 2 Arizona held off Stanford 84-80 on Thursday in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.
The top-seeded Wildcats (29-3) had a hard time shaking the Cardinal in a win late in the regular season and faced a similar issue to open the tournament.
Ninth-seeded Stanford (16-16) beat Arizona State on a buzzer-beater to open the show in Las Vegas on Wednesday and hit Arizona with a flurry of three-pointers in the encore.
The Cardinal went 11 for 20 behind the arc and Spencer Jones hit shots from everywhere while scoring 28 points. Stanford shot 54% against the Pac-12’s best defensive team in an atmosphere that felt like McKale Center north.
Arizona made the biggest plays when it counted most to earn a spot in Friday’s semifinals.
Koloko put Arizona up 82-77 on a two-handed dunk, but Harrison Ingram (16 points) cut the lead to two on a corner three with 13 seconds left. The Cardinal quickly fouled Pelle Larsson and he made two free throws with 8.5 seconds left to send the Wildcats into the next round.
Arizona took an unexpected road to Las Vegas, winning a Pac-12 regular-season title not even their coach expected.
Using principles he helped forge over 22 years as Mark Few’s assistant at Gonzaga, Tommy Lloyd turned the Wildcats into a fast and furious pack.
Arizona’s offensive possessions are the shortest in Division I — just over 14 seconds — and the Wildcats were third nationally in scoring at 84.7 points per game.
The Cardinal managed to drop an anchor on Arizona’s aerials for a bit in the teams’ second meeting this season — they were blown out in the first — before the Wildcats pulled away for an 81-69 win.
Stanford stayed nearly shot for shot with the Wildcats in the third go-round. Jones hit Arizona with an array of midrange jumpers to score 13 points and the Cardinal went six of eight from behind the arc in the first half.
Arizona had success getting the ball into the post and Mathurin seemed to have an answer each time the Cardinal tried to go on a run, scoring 14 points to give Arizona a 40-37 lead.
Stanford kept dropping in shots to start the second half. Jones opened with a pair of threes and the Cardinal hit six of their seven shots, three of those on three-pointers.
Arizona kept pace, trading baskets with Stanford in a back-and-forth second half, neither team able to gain much separation.
The Wildcats threatened to pull away twice, stretching the lead to five. Stanford stopped the momentum and quieted the crowd both times by continuing to drain shots, setting up the tight finish.
Colorado 80, Oregon 69
Evan Battey had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Jabari Walker added 18 points and 16 rebounds for his 17th double-double this season and fourth-seeded Colorado beat No. 5 seed Oregon 80-69 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament.
Colorado (21-10) advances to the semifinals Friday for the third time in four seasons, and will try to beat top-seeded and second-ranked Arizona for a second time this season after winning 79-63 at home on Feb. 26.
Walker completed a three-point play for a 63-56 lead, and he sank a three-pointer to make it 72-63 with 4:02 remaining. Colorado led by at least eight points the rest of the way.
Freshman KJ Simpson added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Colorado. Tristan da Silva scored 12 points. Battey recorded his first double-double of the season, and Walker finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in the second half.
Colorado trailed by seven midway through the first half, but used a 12-0 run to build a lead, 36-30, it would not relinquish.
Quincy Guerrier had a season-high 25 points and 13 rebounds for Oregon (20-13). Jacob Young scored 18 points with seven assists, Eric Williams Jr. added 10 points and N’Faly Dante grabbed 11 rebounds.
Oregon was without scoring leader Will Richardson for the third straight game because of a non-COVID illness. Richardson, who is averaging 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game, did not travel with the team to Las Vegas.
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