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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona takes care of Trojans 90-77, showdown with Bruins set for Saturday

The Arizona offense came alive in the second half, and the Wildcats overpowered the Trojans to set up their huge Saturday showdown with the No. 5 UCLA Bruins. The No. 4 Wildcats (26-3, 15-1 Pac-12) defeated the Trojans 90-77, and Allonzo Trier led the way with 25 points.

The Wildcats started off their game against the USC Trojans with the right does of intensity, but could not find an open shot. They started the game 1-7, but were able to slow down the Trojan offense and just over three minutes into the game the score was tied at a bucket.

Arizona was doing plenty of big things right, but sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference.

After a missed shot of his own, junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright stole the ball away from USC’s Chimezie Metu, and found Allozno Trier for a wide open 3-pointer that woke up the McKale Center crowd. Jackson-Cartwright has shined as of late for the WIldcats, taking advantage of his minutes on the floor. His 3-point shot appears to be back, something Arizona head coach Sean Miller has been waiting for.

“I always come back to the same thing,” Miller said when asked about Jackson-Cartwright’s recent shooting performances. “I’ve never seen a player who shoots it as consistently as he does every day not translate in to a game and now all of the sudden his recent play has been a great spark for our offense.”

Fellow veteran guard Kadeem Allen had a couple of early buckets on drives to the basket, and the Wildcats appeared to be in control of the game early. But the Trojans had other plans.

In a half where they shot 57 percent (16-28), the Trojans were able to score at will in the paint. They led by as many as nine points in the first half, and the difference came in the painted area. They outscored the Wildcats 26-16 down low.

The Wildcats’ offense exploded in the second half, and they were able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half.

Trier had a big day from behind the 3-point line, and Jackson-Cartwright continued to display his new found confidence from beyond the arc. Arizona took a double-digit lead for the first time on a drive by Trier, who was one of five Wildcats’ in double figures.

“Allonzo is a really, really improved 3-point shooter,” Miller said. “It’s taken him a little bit of time to really show how much better of a 3-point shooter he is. He did a really good job out there, especially on offense.”

The Wildcats shot a blistering 57 percent in the second half, and they went 11-20 from 3-point range on the night.

The Trojans were able to answer the Wildcats early in the second half, but turnovers stopped any chance of a comeback for USC. In all, the Trojans turned it over 14 times on the night, eight in the second half alone. The Wildcats capitalized on the Trojans mistakes and scored 23 points off of turnovers.

The Trojans were able to cut the deficit to seven with 1:49 to go, but it was too little, too late and Arizona held on for their 26th victory of the season.

UCLA took care of the ASU Sun Devils on Thursday night, setting up a pivotal conference clash with the Wildcats on Saturday. Arizona defeated the Bruins earlier this season in Los Angeles, but they come in red hot and seeking revenge.

“I have not faced a team as a coach that scores as consistently or as easily as they do,” Miller said. “It’s not just going to be defense, it’s going to have to be defense and offense. Clearly, our defense has to be at its best.”

It is the marquee matchup in the entire country on Saturday, as ESPN’s College GameDay will be in attendance for the McKale Center finale.

“We’re a lot different team, they’re a lot different team, a lot of time has passed,” Trier said. “It’ll be good for both teams.”

UCLA faces Arizona in McKale Center on Saturday with tip off set for 6:15 p.m. MST.


Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter


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