Pac-12 Conference Tournament – Semifinals

Pac-12 Conference Tournament – Semifinals

 

(1) UCLA 66 (4) Arizona 64 

UCLA advances to play (3) Oregon in the semifinals on March 15

 

The UCLA Bruins have been doubted throughout this 2012-2013 season. A team that started so poorly in November and early December was rightly called to the carpet for its deficiencies and failures, but ever since Christmas Day, this team has exceeded expectations. UCLA won the outright Pac-12 regular season championship despite trailing Oregon for most of the way. Now, the Bruins will get to play the Ducks one more time for the Pac-12 tournament title on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Why is UCLA in the final? The Bruins, who displayed a lot of backbone over the past two and a half months, have been as resilient as ever at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. On Thursday in the quarterfinals, UCLA overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to break Arizona State’s heart. On Friday in the semifinals, UCLA stared down a 49-38 deficit at the  10-minute mark of the second half and charged back to leave the Wildcats dazed and devastated. UCLA won all three games between these two teams this season, dealing Arizona a severe disappointment in a season that has not unfolded the way the Wildcats hoped it would.

Amidst the euphoria UCLA fans must feel after their team produced another epic comeback, the Bruins must also deal with the pain of a season-ending injury for one of their best players.

Jordan Adams, who scored seven straight points to lift UCLA to a 58-58 tie with 3:24 left, was the difference-maker for the Bruins on Friday. With UCLA leading 62-61 with roughly 1:20 remaining, Adams stole the ball from Arizona’s Mark Lyons and earned two foul shots, which he calmly made with 1:13 to go. Without Adams, UCLA would not have been able to win the game on a Kyle Anderson putback basket with 24 seconds left. However, on the final sequence of the evening, with UCLA leading 66-64, Adams broke his right ankle in a scramble for a rebound after Arizona’s Grant Jerrett missed a game-typing shot near the rim. UCLA staved off Arizona, but Adams is done for the season, and as a result, the Bruins will have a hard time beating Oregon, not to mention winning a game in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Nevertheless, UCLA’s ability to pull through adversity – which has become so pronounced in this tournament – is precisely why the Bruins can’t be counted out in the coming days, even without Jordan Adams.

(3) Oregon 64 (10) Utah 45

Oregon advances to play (1) UCLA in the championship game on March 16

The 2013 Pac-12 Tournament produced four games on Wednesday and four games on Thursday that were all in doubt heading into the final two minutes of regulation. No conference tournament had been more consistently thrilling from game to game, and after UCLA beat Arizona by two points in an electric opening semifinal on Friday in Las Vegas, the Pac-12 was going for a perfect “10 for 10″ in terms of close games.

The Oregon Ducks spoiled the fun… and they ensured that the Utah Utes will not pluck an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Oregon limited Utah to 29-percent field goal shooting on a night when the Utes’ best players, the ones who had carried the No. 10 seed into the semifinals, couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Jarred DuBois and Jordan Loveridge, who hit big shots late in Utah’s quarterfinal upset of second-seeded California, came up empty on Friday night, their legs taken away by the grind of having to play three games in three successive nights. DuBois went 0 for 8 from the field while Loveridge went 1 for 10. Utah made 15 shots all game and converted only 10 free throws, running out of offense against an Oregon team that placed four scorers in double figures.

Matt Zemek

Pac 12 Sports General

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