Pac-12 Tournament Action on Day One

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By Gerald Nicdao, Contributing Writer
Posted Mar 12, 2014
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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If fans were looking for upsets, then the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday was the wrong place to look.

The higher seeds all won their games. That said, all four games at the MGM Grand Garden Arena were closer than expected.

 

 

 

Resulting from Wednesday's action, here are the matchups for Thursday's Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal events (all times PT):

 #1 Arizona vs #8 Utah at 12 p.m.
#4 California vs #5 Colorado at 2:30 p.m.
#2 UCLA vs #7 Oregon at 6 p.m.
#3 Arizona State vs #6 Stanford at 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday was the first time since 2010 that the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament did not see an upset.

Here's a look at game results:

Utah fends off late Washington rally to advance to quarterfinal

You need at least a couple of hands worth of fingers to count how many times Utah had victories in their grasp and just let them go.

Eight times have the Utes lost in this campaign by nine points or less. So excuse the bit of panic that came from the Utah section of the MGM Grand on Wednesday afternoon when the Utes again gave up a big lead late.

But maybe, just maybe, this is a different Utah team. Dakari Tucker buried the go-ahead three pointer with 35 seconds left and the Utes held on to a 67-61 win over the Huskies in the first game of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

Utah (21-10) had a 12 point lead at one point in the first half and looked to be on its way to an easy victory. But it has never been easy for the Utes this season. Washington (17-15) chipped away at the lead as guard Darin Johnson scored nine of his team-high 16 points in the second half. The Huskies actually took the lead with 11:34 left after a Johnson layup.

After trading baskets and the lead for the rest of the half, Utah had the ball and gave it to the man who would have it at the end of the game for the Utes. Forward Jordan Loveridge had just two assists in the game Wednesday, but his biggest came at the end. Loveridge took the ball, drove the lane and then found a wide open Tucker in the corner.

Tucker drained the three and Utah never looked back. The Utes scored eight of the final nine points to hold on for the win.

“We're on a mission and I don't really feel like celebrating to be honest with you,” Utah guard Brandon Taylor told The Deseret News. “I don't feel like our mission is nearly finished, but we made a stepping stone. We made that first step.”

The next step is conference regular season champion Arizona, who the Utes play at noon on Thursday.

Booker fuels Colorado to squeak by USC

Colorado almost made the NCAA Tournament selection committee reconsider their spot in the field of 68. Who knew if the Buffaloes would be left out of the NCAA Tournament because of a loss to the last-place Trojans?

Colorado gave no one the chance to see whether that would happen. The Buffs held off USC for a 59-56 win on Wednesday. It wasn't an impressive win, but it kept Colorado alive.

"It's hard to win games in March," Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle told the Denver Post. "You can throw records out the window. You're fighting for your life. Sometimes you have to win games ugly. We won ugly."

It was a pretty ugly game for Colorado's Josh Scott. Scott—named to the Pac-12 first team this week—had just one point in the first half. Scott righted himself in the second half—scoring 12 points—but the Buffs (22-10) still had Askia Booker. Booker scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Colorado.

But it still wasn't easy. The Buffaloes needed an 8-0 run late in the second half to push the lead to 58-50 with 3:09 left in the game. Even though Colorado never looked back, the Trojans (11-21) fought back, cutting the lead to 59-56 off a Byron Wesley jumper.

Wesley had the ball again, but missed the game-tying three pointer, ending the game and keeping the Buffs' hopes alive. Wesley finished with a game-high 23 points in the losing effort.

Colorado now faces California on Thursday in the quarterfinal of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Oregon's bench comes up big in win over Oregon State

There's one stat that is all you need to know about the third Civil War of the 2013-14 season. Oregon's bench: 46 points. Oregon State's bench: 6. The final score? The Ducks won, 88-74.

Oregon needed their bench and needed them early. The starters clad in high lighter green missed their first nine shots as the Beavers began with a 9-0 lead.

That's the only lead they had. As the Ducks (23-8) put in their bench, they switched to a press defense. Under pressure, Oregon State (16-15) turned the ball over eight times the rest of the first half and found themselves down 41-40 at the half. It also helped that Jason Calliste scored 17 points off the bench.

“I had a hell of a time, I was having too much fun on the bench watching those guys work like that," starting point guard Jonathan Loyd told The Oregonian. “We were taking bad shots, we weren't moving the ball and weren't playing together and the bench came in and they did that."

And then Oregon's Joseph Young finished the Beavers off. The starting guard scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.

Robert Nelson had 19 points and August Brandt had 20 in a losing effort, likely their last for the Beavers.

Stanford stays on the bubble with win over Washington State

For Stanford senior Dwight Powell, this week is more than just winning some tournament in Las Vegas. It's about playing in the bigger dance. The Cardinal took a step closer to getting back to the NCAA Tournament with a 74-63 win over Washington State in the nightcap of the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday.

Now Stanford (20-11) has a game with Arizona State that—with a win—could send the Cardinal to their first NCAA Tournament since 2009.

"I haven't been to the Tournament. That's always been a dream of mine," Powell told the San Jose Mercury-News. "I think everybody feels the pressure."

It almost didn't happen. The Cougars (10-21) actually had the lead at 50-47 with 9:25 left in the game. This was mostly due in part to DaVonte Lacy, who proved troublesome for Stanford, as Lacy scored a game-high 25 points.

But then Powell hit a three to tie that game at 50-50. That sparked a 16-4 run that gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Chasson Randle led Stanford with 22 points. Powell pitched in 16 in the victory.

How much Stanford has left in the tank will be the question Thursday night against ASU. The Cardinal played just four players off the bench and just got two points from them—off two John Gage free throws.

In fact, both Wazzu and Stanford combined for just four bench points and one bench field goal in the game.

 

The Scores                               March 11, 2014 -- Opening Round Games                 Washington 61   USC 56       Utah 67   Colorado 59                       Oregon State 74   Washington State 63       Oregon 88   Stanford 74      
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