LAS VEGAS (AP)No. 8 Arizona got its revenge Friday night, and now the Wildcats get their rematch.
Azuolas Tubelis scored 17 points and Arizona beat Arizona State 78-59 in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Wildcats (27-6) get a championship rematch with No. 2 UCLA on Saturday night. Arizona beat the Bruins 84-76 last year for the title.
“Obviously, there’s an amazing rivalry there,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I think there’s a mutual respect between both programs. … I’m sure it’s going to be two teams that are probably a little bit worn down, probably both facing some injuries, but that’s kind of how tournament basketball is in the postseason. We know it’s going to be a great challenge, and we look forward to the opportunity to play on the big stage.”
Arizona point guard Kerr Kriisa is one of those banged-up players. He played the second game in a row with an injured shoulder, finishing with five points and seven assists.
“I think it’s something that will get better day by day,” Lloyd said. “I watched him make threes at shoot-around today, so I don’t know how much of a physical thing it is, how much of a mental thing it is. I know this, when it’s on the line if he has an open look I usually feel pretty good.”
Arizona State (22-12) has to hope its resume is good enough to sway the committee Sunday when it assembles the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.
Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley laid out the case for his team getting selected, saying Arizona State had proven itself with quality victories on the road or at neutral sites.
“I truly believe that if you take our three best wins and you compare them to other bubble teams, I don’t think it’s close,” Hurley said. “I think these guys deserve it. … So I’m hopeful with all the things I stated that we would have a really, really good chance to get in the NCAA Tournament.”
Arizona second-year coach Tommy Lloyd remained perfect in Las Vegas, where he is 8-0, including 7-0 at T-Mobile Arena and 5-0 in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Oumar Ballo added 14 points, 10 rebounds for the Wildcats. Cedric Henderson Jr. also scored 14 points, and Pelle Larsson had 11.
Frankie Collins and Jamiya Neal each scored 11 points for Arizona State.
Though this game was close most of the way, it wasn’t nearly as intense as the most recent meeting. Arizona State won that Feb. 25 meeting in Tucson when Desmond Cambridge Jr. made a 60-foot shot at the buzzer.
Arizona finally ended any doubts with a 12-2 run late in the second half to take a 68-54 lead.
THE BIG PICTURE
Arizona State: The Sun Devils entered the game 11th nationally by holding opponents to 39.3%, but that defense was more than tested by Arizona. The Wildcats shot 56.4%, including 52.6% from 3-point range, and led for all but 1:43 of the game.
Arizona: As well as the Wildcats shot from outside, they were just as dominant inside. They outscored Arizona State 40-22 in the lane and outrebounded the Sun Devils 44-30.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils might have done enough to get in the NCAA Tournament, having beaten Michigan, Creighton and Arizona in the regular season and beating Oregon State and Southern California this week.
Arizona: The Wildcats could get a No. 2 NCAA seed if they beat UCLA.
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