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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats head to Vegas for Pac-12 Tournament

Wildcats+head+to+Vegas+for+Pac-12+Tournament

The regular season is in the books, the brackets are fresh off the printer and Las Vegas turns into a West Coast college hoops convention with four conference tournaments this weekend.

As No. 7 Arizona prepares for the Pac-12 Tournament that begins on Thursday, looking back on the season was proof that the Wildcats could battle through anything thrown their way. Key players with injuries, a potential starter medically retiring and arguably the team’s best scorer busted for performance-enhancing drugs, was not the Arizona season anyone expected.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller likes to call this season a “busy” one because of the challenges thrown at the Wildcats and because of their ability to overcome any obstacles.

“The season moves faster when you win 27 games out of 31,” Miller said. “We lost to some pretty quality teams and each game represented different challenges, but in addition to our 27 wins, you look at those losses as opportunities to learn and grow.”

Now that the Wildcats are regular season Pac-12 co-champions, all the chips are put on the table, and the quest for proving they aren’t fools gold going into the NCAA Tournament starts in Vegas.

“We won [the Pac-12 regular season crown], and now it’s time to look forward,” Allen said.

Unfortunately for Arizona, Oregon owns the tiebreaker for the overall No. 1 seed, because of the 27-point loss the Wildcats took in Eugene, Oregon back in February. So Arizona is the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12, meaning the ‘Cats possibly have to go through UCLA in the semi-finals and Oregon the next night in the tournament final.

Senior guard Kadeem Allen said they have to focus on Thursday first, but have confidence as long as Miller is in charge.

“We have a man upstairs in the big office who knows what he’s doing. We all believe in coach Miller,” Allen said.

Miller was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year on Monday, but if everything goes as expected on Thursday, Arizona will most likely play the Bruins for the third time this season. Playing one of the best offenses in recent history in the Pac-12, and even the country for that matter, as well as a potential No. 1 NBA draft pick in Lonzo Ball in three games gives the Wildcats a March Madness-like game before the actual tournament.

The second time the Wildcats faced the Bruins, UCLA offensively outrebounded Arizona 14-4. However, Arizona showed that the rebounding struggles against UCLA were left in the past when the Wildcats outrebounded ASU the next week 50-27.

“We know who we are at this point,” Miller said. “I don’t know if we hit on all cylinders necessarily offensively.”

Think of the Pac-12 as a dry run for next week. The ‘Cats are expected to play Final Four quality teams in UCLA and Oregon, but there’s no pressure, because win or lose, there is still more basketball to be played.

“We’re trying to win every game, but there’s a lot that’s going to happen this week, and if it happens, to be really good for us, great,” Miller said. “If it doesn’t, I think we all recognize that next week is big.”

Let the games begin.


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