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The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 1 Arizona MBB set to face No. 4 Oregon Ducks in Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals

Arizonas+Kylan+Boswell+and+Oumar+Ballo+playing+against+Oregon+during+the+senior+day+basketball+game+on+March+2+in+McKale+Center.+UA+beat+Oregon+by+20+points.+
Emma Diaz
Arizona’s Kylan Boswell and Oumar Ballo playing against Oregon during the senior day basketball game on March 2 in McKale Center. UA beat Oregon by 20 points.

The No. 1 seed Arizona men’s basketball team (25-7, 15-5 in Pac-12) cruised by USC, beating the Trojans 70-49 in the quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, March 14, and will now prepare to face the No. 4 seed University of Oregon in the semifinals, which take place on Friday, March 15, at 5 p.m. in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Oregon faced No. 5 seed UCLA on March 14 in its quarterfinal game, and the Ducks were able to come away with the 68-66 victory over the Bruins to set the stage for the opportunity to make the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game on Saturday, March 16. 

History vs. Oregon

During the latter stretch of the regular-season, Arizona faced Oregon on March 2, and the Wildcats defeated the Ducks by 20 points in a 103-83 victory. Three Wildcats scored over 20 points in the game including Caleb Love (22), Pelle Larsson (22) and Keshad Johnson (21). However, Oregon guard Jermaine Couisnard put up a game-high 39 points that day. Notably, Arizona is 4-6 in the last 10 matchups against the Ducks.   

Oregon players to watch

Oregon has built a 21-11 overall record and a 12-8 conference record. The Ducks are coming off a toe-to-toe matchup, beating UCLA by 2 points in a 68-66 victory. Oregon has won back-to-back games going into the Pac-12 semifinals against Arizona. During the quarterfinal game against UCLA, N’Faly Dante led Oregon in the victory over the Bruins, scoring 22 points. In addition to his 8-11 shooting, Dante piled on four assists, six rebounds and two steals. The 6-foot-11 center leads the Ducks in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. Dante has totaled 88 points in his last five games played, achieving a double-double in three of those games. 

Couisnard is Oregon’s second-leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points per game, and he was one of five players for the Ducks to score double figures against UCLA, putting up 10 points, six assists and seven rebounds. While he helped score for Oregon, Couisnard was just 3-16 from the field. The guard also leads the team in assists, putting up three assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. The University of South Carolina transfer shot 14-24 on the day he scored 39 points against Arizona and is an offensive asset for Oregon

Freshman guard Jackson Shelstad has continued to play a vital role for Oregon; he hit a crucial free-throw that secured the win over UCLA to put the Ducks up 68-66, not allowing the Bruins to convert the game at the other end. The guard finished the game as the second-leading scorer, capping it off with 12 points, two assists and three rebounds. Shelstad remains the third-leading scorer for the Ducks, averaging 12.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.  

Wildcats to watch 

Oumar Ballo continues to stay consistent with his defensive presence and the center put up 10 points and 13 rebounds against USC, marking his 17th double-double of the season. Ballo, who was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team and the All Pac-12 First Team, leads the Wildcats in blocks and rebounding, averaging 13 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. In the quarterfinal game against USC, Ballo tallied all of the three blocks Arizona possessed for the evening. 

KJ Lewis has 37 points and 13 rebounds over his last three games. Against USC, Arizona scored 32 bench points compared to the Trojans’ 3, with Lewis putting up 15 of those points. Lewis has continued to show steady improvement over the course of the season, currently averaging 6.4 points, two assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. Lewis was named an honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. 

Larsson, a senior guard, has been a consistent scorer for the Wildcats, helping lead Arizona alongside Love in its previous meeting against Oregon with 22 points, six assists and four rebounds in the 103-83 victory. Additionally, Larsson was one of three Wildcats who was named an honoree in the Pac-12 honors, receiving  an All Pac-12 Second Team accolade. Larsson is Arizona’s third-leading scorer, averaging 12.9 points, 3.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.


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