Vilardo: Some Pac-12 Tournament Semifinal Insights

The Pac-12 Men's Tournament semifinals lived up to their billing with two competitive games

Posted on March 12, 2022

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

The Pac-12 Men’s Tournament semifinals lived up to their billing with the top four seeds advancing, resulting in a pair of competitive and entertaining games.

Here are some notes and observations on both games before we look forward to tonight’s Championship.

Arizona football Pac-12Arizona 82, Colorado 72
Colorado shot 60 percent on three-pointers in the first half against Arizona and it still resulted in a nine-point deficit.

That shows the kind of game that needs to be played against the Wildcats to get a win. Twenty-seven of the Buffaloes’ first-half points came off three-pointers—that’s 71.1 percent of their scoring.

On the season the Buffs get just 27.8 percent of their scoring from deep. The Buffs did turn the ball over on 28.2 percent of their first-half possessions, so it was far from a perfect half for Colorado.

But the three-point shooting was unconscious as Jabari Walker matched his career-high for made threes in a game with five in the first half alone.

Walker finished with five and attempted just one more shot in the second half.

Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis Colorado’s Nique Clifford | The Daily Camera

The big momentum changer really came with 10:15 to go in the first half when a three-point basket by Justin Kier capped off a 6-0 Arizona run and gave the Cats their first lead since they opened the game with a 3-0 lead 30 seconds in.

Colorado reclaimed the lead with a Jabari Walker three-pointer 16 seconds later, but that would be the last lead of the game for the Buffs.

The Buffs managed just 14 points in the paint and eight from the foul stripe and ended up scoring 48 of their 72 points from behind the three-point line.

Tommy Lloyd credited his assistants for big adjustments in the rematch with Colorado following the earlier loss in Boulder.

Colorado reclaimed the lead with a Jabari Walker three-pointer 16 seconds later, but that would be the last lead of the game for the Buffs.

The Wildcats made a concerted effort to focus on gap integrity in this one and limit the Buffd in points in the paint. Colorado scored 54of 79 points in the paint in their win over Arizona and got 13 at the foul stripe.

Tommy Lloyd tied John A. Warren for the most wins ever in Pac-12 history for a coach in his first season as head coach in the conference with his 30th tonight.

usc logoUCLA 69, USC 59
USC ended up 7-18 on dunks and layups in their 10-point loss to UCLA in the semifinals. This was a point not lost on Andy Enfield in the postgame.

He mentioned it was not a lot that UCLA did inside, but more a lot of guys not having a great night but adding that Myles Johnson is a great defender inside but the layups have got to go in the basket.

USC also ended the game with a 28.5% assist rate something that will not work in any game for the Trojans.

UCLA, meanwhile, did a fantastic job of getting to the FT line and connecting on 17 of 21. Jules Bernard (7-7) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. combined to hit on 14 of 15 from the stripe.

Mick Cronin pointed out postgame this was one of their best games of being able to penetrate and draw fouls.

Cronin also noted that the crosstown rivalry is healthy and one of mutual respect with no animosity of any kind, which is good for the game.

He actually opened his postgame press conference pointing out that he felt USC’s projected tournament seed was “ridiculously low, but that is normally the case due to the West Coast bias (against).”

USC’S Isaiah White and UCLA’s Jaylen Clark| John Locher)(John Locher/AP

Enfield followed up in his remarks, saying that he does not pay a lot of attention to the seed projections, but also pointed out that not many teams have won 13 games away from home.

While the Bruins have one more game to play in Las Vegas, both the LA schools will hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

And as the attention turns to the NCAA Tournament, both teams can look to last season as a blueprint for success.

Tyger Campbell noted that the Bruins are starting to lock in defensively over the last 10 games or so, similar to what they did in Indianapolis last season.

Drew Peterson pointed out that the Trojans also know the stakes that are upcoming and staying confident is the key.

The Trojans lost a season ago in the semis of the Pac-12 Tournament and then went on a run in the NCAA Tournament.

UCLA has now taken five of seven meetings in the Pac-12 Tournament from the Trojans with the seven games being decided by an average of 11.9 points.

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