No. 7 Arizona beats No. 5 Oregon 83-80 for Pac-12 title
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Arizona stayed resilient while its best player was suspended, fought through injuries, kept finding ways to win.
That composure helped the Wildcats share the Pac-12 regular-season crown with Oregon and withstand a furious rally by the Ducks in the conference title game.
Now they're Pac-12 Tournament champions and have a decent shot to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
Led by ever-calm sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, No. 7 Arizona outlasted No. 5 Oregon 83-80 on Saturday night in the Pac-12 final to enter the NCAA Tournament with a surge of momentum.
"It has never been easy for us," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "We have dealt with adversity and obstacles as much as almost any group that I've been a part of, and yet we've been able to continue to climb and grow."
Arizona (30-4) played superb defense while building a 14-point lead and shot 58 percent overall to answer when Oregon made a big push in the second half.
Trier was the catalyst.
He sat out the first 19 games of the season after being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and got better as the season progressed. Trier hit some big shots when the Ducks charged and calmly made two free throws in the final 17 seconds after Arizona missed the previous four, sealing the Wildcats' second Pac-12 title in three years.
"I don't think we had the picture painted like this. Everything looked so down," said Trier, the tournament MVP after scoring 23 points in the title game. "But just extremely proud to be a part of this team, extremely happy to be able to play basketball again and do something I really loved that was taken away from me for quite an extended period of time."
Oregon (29-5) got bad news before tipoff, learning senior forward Chris Boucher is out for the season with a torn ACL sustained in the semifinals against California.
The Ducks struggled in the first half before rallying in a dazzling second half by both teams. They couldn't stop the Wildcats, though.
Dillon Brooks carried Oregon through the early woes and finished with 25 points. Tyler Dorsey added 23 for the Ducks, who made 15 of 29 shots in the second half.
"I love the way our guys battled back," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Our guys really, really battled back, put ourselves in a position. We just didn't get it done."
Oregon ran over Arizona in the team's only meeting during the regular season, hitting 16 3-pointers in an 85-58 victory that was never close.
The Wildcats got one dose of payback in the Pac-12 semifinals by avenging an emotional regular-season loss to No. 3 UCLA and were hoping to do it again against the Ducks.
Oregon had a setback before the game even started with the loss of Boucher, the versatile 6-foot-10 forward who was the team's third-leading scorer and the Pac-12's leading shot blocker.
"I just feel really bad for Chris," Altman said. "He's a wonderful young man and it's really hard for him. It was a big blow to our team this morning."
Arizona took advantage of Boucher's absence by attacking the rim, hitting 13 of 26 shots to lead 35-29 at halftime.
Arizona continued to hit shots and disrupt Oregon's offense, pushing the lead to 14 in the opening 4½ minutes of the second half.
The Ducks finally started to make shots and disrupted Arizona's offense with full-court pressure, whittling away at the lead.
Oregon pulled to 79-77 on Jordan Bell's layup with 26 seconds left, but Trier closed it out with his free throws.
"I think we scored enough," Dorsey said. "It just came down to the defensive end."
Arizona took down top-10 teams in consecutive games and is playing well at both ends of the floor at just the right time.
Oregon is still a dangerous team, as this game showed, but the loss of Boucher could be huge for its hopes of a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Arizona struggled to stop the Ducks in the first meeting, allowing them to make one 3-pointer after another and get out in transition.
In the title game, Oregon went 6 of 22 from outside the 3-point arc and had six points in transition.
The loss of Boucher meant the Ducks would have to get a bigger contribution from Kavell Bigby-Williams.
The 6-foot-11 junior came through against Arizona, grabbing six rebounds while playing solid defense in 14 minutes.
Both teams should be high seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.