Arizona advanced to the Pac-10 finals with a win over USC on Friday night. WildcatAuthority.com takes a closer look.
took one step closer to its first Pac-10 Tournament championship since 2002 on Friday as the Wildcats defeated USC
67-62. The victory propels UA into Saturday's title game where it will look to lock up its fifth conference tournament championship in program history.
It wasn't easy for UA as the Trojans hung tough for most of the evening. The Wildcats held the lead for most of the contest, but USC kept the game within striking distance until the end. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they had trouble defending Arizona's frontline and it allowed the Wildcats to be successful in the paint. UA's play inside permitted it to control the offensive tempo and come away with the five-point victory.
Derrick Williams had another big night and was simply too much for USC to handle. The sophomore forward scored 20 points, grabbed six boards and dished out two assists on the way to victory.
Williams was hurting the Trojans wherever he got the ball. Whether it was inside or out, the Pac-10 Player of the Year dominated the USC defense.
Jesse Perry was the perfect compliment to Williams in the paint on Friday. The forward finished as the only other Wildcat in double figures with 11 and also added four rebounds. The play of Perry was essential to UA's victory mainly because of how well the Trojans' big men have played this season on the defensive end of the floor.
Williams and Perry shot the ball with high efficiency against Southern California. The Wildcats' frontcourt combined to for 11-for-17 from the field and 8-for-10 from the foul line.
Jordin Mayes provided a much needed spark off the bench. His eight points may not jump out at anyone, but he scored those points over a crucial one-and-a-half minute stretch in the second half where the Wildcats took command of the game. Mayes also added three assists and two rebounds as he was all over the court Friday.
Jamelle Horne also added eight points off the bench. Horne hit a pair of threes in situations where the game was close - once to tie the game early at 15 and another that put the Wildcats up by six late in the contest.
Arizona won the contest despite the fact that USC shot 49.1 percent from the field and earned a lot of easy looks at the basket. UA wasn't sharp on defense at times and it led to Southern California converting on multiple close shots.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they were able to overcome their defensive miscues along the interior with great perimeter defense. The Trojans only made five out of 18 shots from three point land.
Three point shooting worked in Arizona's favor on Friday. The Pac-10's top three-shooting squad connected on 42.1 percent of its shots from beyond the arc.
UA limited its mistakes against USC and it went a long way in making sure the Trojans didn't steal away the game late. The Wildcats only committed seven turnovers as a team and were only whistled for 12 personal fouls - four of which were called on Mayes.
Arizona only shot a shade over 43 percent for the contest, but the difference came at the free-throw line and from three-point land. The Wildcats made six more foul shots than the Trojans and scored nine more points from three-point range.