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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 17 Arizona men’s basketball defeats No. 23 USC 86-78

Tyler Baker

Arizona guard Gabe York (1) leaps up to dunk in McKale Center on Sunday, Feb. 14. The Wildcats won 86-80.

Arizona men’s basketball gained sweet revenge Sunday night when the No. 17 Wildcats knocked off No. 23 USC, 86-78, in McKale Center.  The victory put Arizona (21-5, 9-4 Pac-12 Conference) in a two-way tie for first place in the Pac-12 standings with Oregon, although the Ducks hold the tiebreaker. 

Playing in front of another McKale sellout—with TJ McConnell, Stanley Johnson and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose in attendance —the Wildcats proved themselves a Pac-12 frontrunner by running away from the Trojans in a high scoring affair. 

Arizona shot 54 percent from the field, with Gabe York’s 17 points leading the way. The senior guard reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark early in the first half. 

“That’s an accomplishment and I’m very blessed to be a part of that,” York said. “It’s a blessing that I’m able to join that club.”

York, who was crushed after Arizona fell to USC 103-101 in quadruple overtime last month, hit four 3-pointers this time around, including a shot-clock beating fadeaway late in the first half. 

York’s shot put Arizona ahead 46-30 at halftime. 

USC mounted a comeback  in the second half behind some stellar 3-point shooting of its own. A 16-point second half advantage for the Wildcats trimmed down to two points with 6:43 to go, as USC’s Bennie Boatwright and Jordan McLaughlin released a barrage of perimeter shots. Boatwright finished the game with 18 points for the Trojans, while McLaughlin added 15.

After the game, Miller harbored his focus on the fact that Arizona allowed USC to get back into a game that once seemed destined for a blowout. 

“If you want to compete for a championship, … then the details of what we’re trying to do have to improve,” Miller said. “We have struggled with those details, and we’re at a point now where we’re going to keep working, teaching, but a few things are going to have to change if we’re going to take that next step.” 

Arizona did eventually pull away.

With five minutes to play, Arizona held a 74-69 edge until Allonzo Trier knocked down the biggest shot of the night—a deep 3-ball that put Arizona ahead by eight. From there on, the Wildcats held serve, with USC never drawing within one scoring possession. Trier finished the night with 14 points but only connected on five of seven free throw attempts. 

Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen also finished in double digits, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively. It was Tollefsen who set the tone early in the first half, where he scored 11 of his points and chased down four offensive boards. 

Arizona had trouble shaking off USC for the first 10 or so minutes of the game, but a 12-2 Wildcats run, highlighted by a Parker Jackson-Cartwright  3-pointer, opened the game up. 

By the 5:19 mark of the first half, Arizona held a 38-22 lead. 

“Our first half was excellent basketball,” Miller said, “but we’re trying to put both halves together.”

Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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