Las Vegas, NV – Deandre Ayton had his second straight 30+ point game to help the Arizona Wildcats beak away from the USC Trojans to capture the Pac-12 Tournament title. Ayton totaled 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds in Arizona’s 75-61 victory.
After a Chimezie Metu dunk with 11:40 remaining Arizona’s lead was reduced to 44-43. After that point the Wildcats outscored the Trojans 31-18 with Ayton scoring 11 of those points. The run was highlighted by back-to-back thunderous dunks by Rawle Alkins and Ayton that put Arizona up by seven points with 8:51 left.
The 7-1 Ayton was helped by a solid performance from fellow big, 7-0 senior Dusan Ristic. Ristic was strong throughout the contest finishing with 16 points on 8-of-13 from the field, five rebounds and three assists. One of the assists was a high lob that Ayton gathered and slammed through the hoop. Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright ran the offense efficiently while scoring 10 points and hitting a key late three-pointer. He added five assists against only two turnovers.
Allonzo Trier and Alkins combined for only 15 points with Alkins fouling out late and committing five turnovers. USC was led by a solid performance from center Nick Rakocevic who finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Point guard Jordan McLaughin was efficient with 12 points, nine assists and two turnovers.
This game was decided in the paint with Arizona destroying USC on the boards with a 42-19 advantage, including a 13-5 advantage on the offensive boards.. The Wildcats scored 44 points inside helped by Ayton and Ristic. Metu was ineffective against Arizona’s bigs totaling only seven points on six field goal attempts and shot only 3-of-7 from the charity stripe. He committed three turnovers.
The All-Tournament Team consisted of Arizona’s Ayton (Most Outstanding Player) and Ristic, USC’s McLaughlin and Jonah Mathews and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welch.
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