LAS VEGAS — Clear your schedules, everyone. The Pac-12 Tournament is going to end in style.
The two best teams in the conference will meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 3 p.m. Saturday, with top-seeded Arizona matching up against No. 2-seed UCLA.
Stingy defense versus prolific offense.
On Friday night, the Bruins romped to an 84-59 blowout of Stanford — shooting a season-high 65.2 percent in the most lopsided game in league tourney history. Two hours earlier, the Wildcats had shut down Colorado, 63-43, holding the Buffs to a season-worst 29.4 percent shooting performance.
They marked the sixth and seventh of 10 games at the Pac-12 Tournament decided by at least 11 points. Continue reading →
– UCLA can be a much better rebounding team than it has been all season, though what it’ll take to keep that effort consistent is unclear.
Arizona entered the game averaging a +12.1 rebounding margin to UCLA’s +4.3, but it was the latter that held a 20-19 edge on the glass at halftime. The Bruins came out strong on the boards, visibly making the extra effort to box out or jump up and tip the ball to a teammate.
They were especially good on the offensive board, grabbing 16 for the game. The team ended up just one rebound shy of Arizona’s 37.
– Pauley Pavilion was louder than it had been in years, with an announced sellout crowd of 13,238. Continue reading →
No. 1: Battle of the bigs. Arizona’s frontline is almost certainly the best in the Pac-12, especially with the addition of forward Aaron Gordon. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound true freshman hasn’t quite matched the hype of a future lottery pick, but he plays with non-stop energy and is still averaging 12.4 points, 1.0 blocks, and a team-high 8.0 rebounds.
Slot him into the lineup alongside sophomores Brandon Ashley (6-foot-8, 230) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7-foot, 235), and it’s no surprise that the Wildcats clean the glass more thoroughly than any team in the conference. Arizona’s offensive rebounding percentage of 41.4 ranks eighth in the country. The Pac-12′s next-best team is Colorado, which sits way down at 57th (36.2 percent). Continue reading →
UCLA defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes has already faced Oregon’s offense, currently ranked third in the country in points per game (51.7) and second in yards (596.6). He thinks Washington’s compares favorably — at least at certain positions.
“I think they have the most electric players we’ve seen this season,” the true freshman said. “I think more so than Oregon. Continue reading →