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Arizona beats UCLA in Pac-12 semifinals
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Allonzo Trier added 20 and No. 7 Arizona shot its way past No. 3 UCLA 86-75 Friday night in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
Arizona (29-4) took advantage of UCLA’s defensive lapses and played well on its own end while avenging disappointing loss to the Bruins in Tucson two weeks ago.
The co-Pac-12 champion Wildcats shot 50 percent and made 10 of 20 from 3-point range in front of a rowdy crowd that made T-Mobile Arena feel like McKale Center west.
Arizona will play No. 5 Oregon in Saturday night’s title game.
UCLA (29-4) struggled from the perimeter against Arizona’s length, hitting 4 of 25 from 3-point range. Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford combined for 13 points and were 2 for 16 from beyond the arc.
Isaac Hamilton led UCLA with 20 points and TJ Leaf had 15 before fouling out.
The Bruins and Wildcats played two entertaining games during the regular season, each winning on the road.
Arizona won the first one 96-85 at Westwood in Trier’s first game back from a 19-game suspension. UCLA got payback two weeks ago, outscoring the Wildcats 20-4 on second-chance points to end their 21-game home winning streak.
Arizona was stung by that loss and its players made it clear they wanted payback, saying they would rather play the Bruins than Southern California before that quarterfinal was even played.
The first half of the rubber match was an entertaining mix of athletic plays, superb defensive stretches, followed by runs of fantastic offense.
Arizona had the last burst, taking a 41-35 lead into halftime after making 7 of 13 from 3-point range while the Bruins went 2 for 12.
Ball struggled with foul trouble in the quarterfinals against USC and wasn’t much of a factor in the first half, with as many turnovers (four) as points and assists combined.
Arizona continued to hit shots as UCLA continued to clank, stretching the lead to 63-48 as the decibel level in T-Mobile Arena continued to rise.
The Bruins tried to make runs, but couldn’t get shots to consistently fall to make up enough ground.
Arizona can look unstoppable when it’s making perimeter shots and playing defense, which it did against UCLA.
The Bruins had been playing solid defense recently, but struggled to stop the Wildcats and couldn’t outscore them.
Arizona faces top-seeded Oregon in Saturday night’s title game.
UCLA should still get a high NCAA Tournament seed.
More AP college basketball: and