Arizona Flexes Muscle Against ASU, Advances to Pac-12 Tournament Final

(AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

The Pac-12 tournament got a bit territorial as Arizona and ASU met in the semifinals on Friday night.

For Arizona State, a win would slide them off the bubble and pretty squarely into the NCAA tournament. For Arizona, it was a chance to meet UCLA in the finals and further make a case for a top seed. 

After a regular season split, Arizona won the rubber match 78-59. While the game was closer than the score illustrates, Arizona showed why it’s a top team in this conference.

Ballo Balled

Big man Oumar Ballo was limited due to foul trouble when Arizona State upset the Cats at McKale a few weeks ago, but he made sure that was not a repeat performance Friday night. He tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three assists and impacted Arizona State’s rebounding throughout the night. 

Few teams have the muscle to offset Ballo when he is playing well, and he showed just how much of a matchup issue he can be when things are rolling. 

Gatos De Tres

The ‘Cats also shot 10/19 from beyond the arc. Kerr Kriisa went 1/7 from three and was battling a shoulder issue, meaning the rest of the group went 9/12. Tough to shut down the outside shooting when nearly everyone is hitting shots. 

Now, the Wildcats are firmly at least a second seed and can jump into a No. 1 seed with a win over UCLA. Arizona State was deemed the last team into the tournament by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi after the Devils beat USC on Thursday night. They will have to wait and see how the rest of the field shakes out to see if they can get back into March Madness.