Las Vegas, NV – The two top seeds, UCLA and Arizona advanced to the Pac-12 championship game with wins tonight in the semifinals. UCLA took over in the second half and ran away from Oregon 75-56 behind 28 points from Tyger Campbell. Arizona received solid contributions from all seven of their rotation players in a 78-65 win over intrastate rival Arizona State.
In the opener Oregon stayed close with UCLA throughout the first half, trailing at halftime by only 32-30. The Ducks stayed close despite not shooting well from deep, only going 1-of-8. UCLA’s freshmen center Adem Bona neutralized Oregon’s N’Faly Dante inside. Bona held Dante scoreless from the floor on four attempts and was very quick in reacting to Dante’s post moves. The Ducks stayed close with a +9 edge in rebounding. Campbell had eight first half points for the Bruins, connecting on 2-of-3 from deep.
It looked like Oregon might have a chance when Bona went down with what looked like a dislocated shoulder early in the second half. He did not return to the game. At that point Oregon was down 44-36. They quickly got within three points, scoring five points in a row, and cut the deficit to 44-41 on a Dante dunk. Campbell then scored nine straight Bruin points to extend the lead to 11 points. Then Jaime Jaquez Jr. took over, scoring nine points in an 11-1 Bruin run that gave them a 69-52 lead. They coasted the rest of the way to the 19-point win.
Campbell was exceptional all game, playing under control and getting free for mid-range and long distance jumpers. He finished the game shooting 11-of-21 (4-of-8 from deep) and added six assists against zero turnovers. Jaquez Jr. didn’t have his best shooting night (6-of-17) but had that run that put the game away for the Bruins. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Oregon’s problem all year has been inconsistent shooting, especially from deep. Tonight they shot 3-of-19 on 3’s while UCLA connected on 9-of-19 3’s, effectively generating a 18-point Bruin advantage on three-point shooting. The Ducks outrebounded the Bruins by ten, but that stat doesn’t mean much if the team can’t convert on those opportunities. Oregon’s NCAA tournament hopes are now officially over. They’ll have to decide whether to accept an NIT bid if they are invited.
In the nightcap Arizona State stayed closed much of the game but Arizona went on a seven-point run late in the second half and pulled away from there in a 78-59 win. The Wildcats dominated inside with a 40-22 edge in points in the paint as well as a 43-29 edge in rebounding. The Wildcats had four players in double-figures, led by 6-10 Azuolas Tubelis with 18 points (8-of-11 from the field) and nine rebounds. 7-0 center Oumar Ballo added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Cedric Henderson Jr. had 14 points and Pelle Larsson added 11. Arizona shot 10-of-19 from deep compared to 6-of-26 for the Sun Devils. UCLA and Arizona will play for the Pac-12 Tournament title Saturday night at 7:30 pm local time.