Arizona was able to pull away early and beat California 99-60 on Thursday night to win the Pac-12 Conference title outright. Read on to find out who was the player of the game, what the key moments were, and more.
Arizona pulled away early and stayed ahead for the rest of the night, beating California 99-60. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Player of the Game:
Brandon Ashley – The junior had a dominant performance against California, seemingly making up for the past two games against the Golden Bears. Ashley finished with a game-high 21 points, making 8 of his 12 shots on the night. The power forward also snagged six rebounds in the game, abusing Dwight Tarwater throughout the night.
Both teams traded baskets to start the game, but then the Wildcats started to pull away. Leading 16-14, Arizona went on a 7-0 run, with points coming from Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The run put the Wildcats ahead by nine and turned the tide in the game.
With just under eight minutes left in the first half, Ashley took the ball on the side of the lane, made a quick move to the basket and slammed it home. He was fouled in the process and hit the ensuing free throw to give Arizona a 30-16 lead.
T.J. McConnell raced down the floor with 4.4 seconds left in the first half, dishing to Tarczewski for a monster dunk just as time expired in the first half. The Wildcats capped the half on a 23-9 run to head to the locker room with a very comfortable 48-27 lead.
By the time McConnell and Ashley left the game with 6:17 left in the game, the Wildcats had built a 83-45 lead. Arizona dominated the game and was able to allow the backup players to get a handful of minutes as the Wildcats won the Pac-12 regular season Conference Championship.
Stat of the Night:
26 - The Arizona Wildcats finished with 26 assists on 38 made baskets in the win. T.J. McConnell accounted for 11 and Parker Jackson-Cartwright added another five with various other Wildcats getting in on the action as well. Arizona sharing the ball is exactly what is going to take it far in the tournament and what may very well get Sean Miller his first Pac-12 Tournament Championship. Additionally, Arizona did all that while turning the ball over just six times.
On a night where Arizona dominated the basketball game and sealed the Pac-12 regular season conference championship, the Wildcats looked as good as they have all season. This version of Arizona is exactly the one that Sean Miller and co. are hoping for at this point in the season.
If the Wildcats can capture the performance it had on Thursday in a bottle and open it any time they wanted, there isn't a team in the country that they couldn't beat. Arizona can hang with any team in the country right now and that is certainly where it wants to be.
The Wildcats absolutely demolished California. It seemed like a close game for the first five minutes, but that can be washed away when you realize that the referees stopped the game three times in the first three minutes for various reasons not related to actual basketball. Once Arizona got rolling, it was all over and that just shows how much of a talent gap there is between the Wildcats and the Golden Bears.
Arizona was starting five potential NBA players and California was playing with just two if you are being generous. Arizona came to play and it was just way too much for Cal.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"And in the biggest moments of our season, he's been at his best," Miller said of McConnell. "And every coach in our conference knows this. He does it on defense just as much as he does it on offense."
"I think I'm a pretty good player," Ashley said, "but like T.J. said, he was finding me in great positions. He was just putting me in great position to be able to make shots and be aggressive."