The Arizona Wildcats have rediscovered the top of the Pac-12 standings after a win over the USC Trojans on Sunday night. The Wildcats led the entire way en route to an 86-78 victory, despite a late defensive collapse. A late burst gave them the larger margin of victory.
The Wildcats move to 9-4 in conference play, tied with the Oregon Ducks for first place.
USC did get within two in the second half thanks to some lackadaisical play on Arizona's part after halftime. The Cats led by 16 at half, but USC started knocking down threes and out-hustling Arizona throughout the second half to make it a close game.
Postgame Press Conferences
Defense is still a problem for this team. Strangely enough, it was the second half that was the issue this time instead of the first half.
It was another game with Parker Jackson-Cartwright in the starting lineup, as Kadeem Allen continues to recover from an illness. But the man of the hour, in the first half at least, was Mark Tollefsen, just like he was in the first USC game. The Trojans are just a favorable matchup for Tolly.
He led all scorers with 11 points at the break, and would finish the night with 13. He was all over the offensive glass, totaling four such rebounds, six total, with all of them coming in the first half. I'd argue that Tollefsen did not see the floor enough in the second half, which, in part, led to USC's comeback.
Here are some other major themes from Sunday night's Valentine's Day contest:
Ryan's redemption?: After having his worst game of the year against USC the first time out, it was going to be interesting to see how he would respond. Well, he surpassed his five points from the last game early, getting six in the first three minutes. But he would slow down significantly from there, scoring just two more in the half, and finishing with 14. He has troubles guarding Bennie Boatwright, so if these two teams meet again in Vegas, you can expect the Trojans to try and exploit that.
Boatwright picked up two early fouls to limit his minutes in the first half, then got poked in the eye to start the second half, once again taking down his minutes, and limiting his impact on the game. The eye poke may have held off USC just enough in this one.
Gabe Yor-1K: Gabe York reached the 1,000 point plateau for his Arizona career early in the game. He is the 49th Wildcat to reach that mark. He ended up leading Arizona with 17 points.
Spread out scoring: Both teams had very even contributions from their players. Nine guys ended up in double-figures in this one, four for Arizona and five for USC. Each team also had a player finish with nine. Certainly there was no one player who took this one over from start-to-finish.
Derrick Rose to Arizona?: The Bulls' star was at the game, along with expected faces like T.J. McConnell and Stanley Johnson. Rose was in Tucson because his girlfriend went to Arizona and he has family in town. Also possibly scouting Trier?
The Wildcats are back in action on Wednesday night, as the Arizona State Sun Devils come down to Tucson. That game will tip off at 7 PM MST on ESPN2.