USC Basketball falls to Arizona in Pac-12 Tournament final

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10: Jonah Mathews (top)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10: Jonah Mathews (top) /

Led by DeAndre Ayton’s monster outing, Arizona pulled away from USC Basketball in the final minutes of the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game, 75-61.

The lowdown:

Parker Jackson-Cartwright opened the game for Arizona with a wide open three-pointer, but Jonah Mathews picked up where he left off after a career-high against Oregon, putting up nine of USC’s first 15 points.

Mathews had 11 points early but Nick Rakocevic surged to pass him atop the scoring charts in the first half with 13 points. The Trojan forward went toe-to-toe with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, who also scored 13 in the opening period.

USC and Arizona stayed locked in a tight contest as the Trojans took a 33-30 lead into the break.

The Wildcats came out quickly in the second half, erasing USC’s advantage on a Rawle Alkin’s triple. However, the second half progressed much like the first, with both teams going back and forth.

Foul trouble became a concern for the Trojans at the midway point, with both Chimezie Metu and Rakocevic picking up three fouls.

Though Metu was able to throw down an alley-oop from Jordan McLaughlin, he picked up his fourth foul shortly after.

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That’s when Arizona exploded. Jackson-Cartwright hit a three-pointer, which was quickly wiped out by USC’s Jordan Usher’s own distance shot, but Alkins and Ayton threw down dunks to give Arizona a commanding seven-point lead.

The lead swelled to 10 points with under six to play on another Ayton alley-oop dunk supplied by Dusan Ristic.

McLaughlin scored USC’s next seven points as the Trojans trimmed it down to six points, but Rustic and Ayton quickly dragged the deficit up to 12.

USC couldn’t generate a comeback in the final minutes and the Wildcats closed the game out, 75-61.

While Rakocevic finished as the Trojans’ leading scorer, neither he nor Mathews scored a point in the second half.

Player of the game: Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton made his case to be the best player in college basketball with 32 points and 18 rebounds in a dominant performance.

Stat of the game: The Wildcats outrebounded USC 42-19.

Next on tap: The Trojans will await their fate on Selection Sunday.