Arizona takes command of Pac-12 with win over USC
Arizona, beaten Thursday night by UCLA in the Wildcats’ first home loss of the season, defeated USC in Tucson for the eighth straight time. Coupled with UCLA’s loss at Arizona State earlier Saturday, Arizona extended its Pac-12 lead to two games over the second-place Trojans and Bruins with five more to play.
USC, swept in their trip to the Arizona schools this week, led only once Saturday night, 20-18 with 9:08 left in the first half.
Trier scored five, including a 3-pointer, in a 9-0 spurt that put Arizona on top for good 27-20 on Ayton’s 15-footer with 7:06 left in the half.
Metu’s three-point play cut Arizona’s lead to 29-25 with 5:09 left in the half. A pair of 3s by Alkins and Ayton’s hook shot stretched the lead to 37-27 before Derryck Thornton made four straight free throws to slice the Wildcats’ advantage to 37-31 at the break.
The Wildcats outscored USC 16-9 over the final 6:33. Trier’s 3-pointer put Arizona ahead 73-59 with 3:16 to go and Ayton’s 3, followed by a rebound basket by Alkins, gave the Wildcats their biggest lead at 80-61.
USC: Two weeks ago, the Trojans were flying high with six straight victories. Now they’ve lost three in a row on the road to UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona and are slipping back toward the pack. Two home games against the Oregon schools next weekend could provide the Trojans a chance to get close again but the trip to the desert was a missed opportunity.
Arizona: The Wildcats would have found themselves tied with USC for first in the conference with a loss, but they were in control pretty much all of the way, thanks to a balanced attack that featured a return of Alkins as a serious offensive threat. Next up is a big one at rival Arizona State. A win in Tempe and the Wildcats have the Oregon trip and home games against Stanford and Cal in the way of the conference crowd they were predicted to win.
Arizona: At Arizona State on Thursday night.
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