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The Daily Wildcat

 

Preview: Arizona takes on Oregon in Pac-12 Tournament Championship

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Tyler Baker

Oregon forwards Dillon Brooks (24) and Elgin Cook (23) defend Utah forward Jakob Poeltl (42) during Oregon’s 67-64 win against Utah in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 Tournament in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on Friday night.

In the culmination of the Pac-12 Tournament, No. 5 overall and top-seeded Arizona (30-3) will take on the Oregon Ducks (25-8) on Saturday in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game.

Fresh off a 70-64 win over fourth-seeded UCLA in the semifinals, Arizona is looking for its first Pac-12 Tournament championship under coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats have lost in the championship game each of the past two years.

“We’ve been in a championship game four times in the last five years, and you don’t have to ask me how it feels because we haven’t won it; we know that,” Miller said. “We’ll see what we can do [on Friday]. We know whoever we play … it’s going to be a great game.”

Meanwhile Oregon continues to build on a strong second half to the season. The Ducks got to the championship game by defeating Utah 67-64 in the second semifinal matchup. Oregon guard and Pac-12 Player of the Year Joe Young hit a 3-pointer with about one second remaining to send the Ducks to the championship game.

Young scored a game-high 25 points, including 18 points in the second half alone, and will be the primary focus for the Arizona defense.

“They have a lot of young players and Joseph Young has carried that team,” Miller said. “We’re well aware of how well they’ve been playing.”

With wing defenders like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson and T.J. McConnell, Arizona fared well in the two regular season matchups with Oregon this season. The Wildcats defeated Oregon 80-62 in Eugene, Ore., and 90-56 in Tucson, Ariz.

In both games Arizona held Young to an average of 12 points per game on four made field goals. Young went 8-24 from the field and had more turnovers (five) than rebounds (three) or assists (four).

Hollis-Jefferson drew the primary defensive matchup and used his length and quickness to give the Pac-12 Player of the Year fits. The game in Eugene, Ore., saw Young go 4-15 from the field and struggle to get off a consistent look.

Young said he didn’t lead the team in those two games as well as he could have.

“I felt like I didn’t lead my team at that time,” Young said. “But I think we’re more as a team, more as a family. Coach got us ready, and we’re just going to make it a ballgame [on Friday].”

Oregon coach Dana Altman reiterated the view that his team is much different since the January 8 and 28 matchups with Arizona.

“It’s a different day, different game,” Altman said. “You know, we’re just going to have to do a good job.”

Arizona players said much of the same. UA forward Stanley Johnson said beating the same team three times in a row is tough, but the team is ready for the challenge.

“I’ve never played in an Arizona championship game, other than the one this year, so in my mind I’m 0-0,” Johnson said. “All we have to do is focus on winning that game. We’re a new team, we have a new face and I think we can win the game for sure.”

The championship game can be seen on Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN and will be both teams’ last action before Selection Sunday.

— James Kelley contributed reporting to this story

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