Arizona edges USC in Pac-10 semisMar 12, 2011 - 6:54 AM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Derrick Williams scored Arizona's final six points of the game, and the 16th-ranked Wildcats held off the USC Trojans, 67-62, in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament.
Williams ended with 20 points and six rebounds for the top-seeded Wildcats (27-6), who will face third-seeded Washington in the title game on Saturday.
Jesse Perry donated 11 points for Arizona, which has won this tournament a league-best four times.
"Well, I told the guys in the locker room after the game I thought this was our best win of the season," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "The reason is we respect USC a great deal. That senior class, and we've gone through some change at Arizona, but you really have to appreciate those kids' effort, not only tonight, but the whole season."
Marcus Simmons finished with a career-high 20 points for the fourth-seeded Trojans (19-14), who played without head coach Kevin O'Neill. Prior to the game, O'Neill was suspended for the rest of the Pac-10 Tournament following his verbal altercation with an Arizona supporter Thursday night.
Nikola Vucevic chipped in 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for Southern California, which defeated fifth-seeded California, 70-56, in the quarters on Thursday.
"There was no anger," Simmons said. "We have a great coaching staff behind Kevin O'Neill. So I knew moving forward our coaches would help us out a lot. Coach Cantu did a great job tonight helping us out. So I just wanted to come out there and play. I hope it's not my last game. NIT, NCAA, either or, I mean we'll do great in either tournament."
Trailing by nine, 58-49, late in the second half, USC put together a 6-0 flurry to make things interesting. Vucevic tallied the final four points of the surge to get the Trojans within three, 58-55, with three minutes left.
Jamelle Horne stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer, and after Jio Fontan made a layup, Williams put home a slam to give Arizona a 63-57 margin with under two minutes remaining.
Fontan made a shot from beyond the arc with 48.1 seconds left to make it a three-point game. Williams made two big free throws at the other end to give the Wildcats a 65-60 edge.
Vucevic made a layup to make it a three-point contest again, but Williams added two more from the line with 3.2 ticks remaining to seal the victory.
A hard-fought first half resulted in Arizona taking a 33-28 lead into the locker room.
Holding a 53-49 lead with over 6 1/2 minutes to play, the Wildcats scored five straight points to build a 58-49 margin on Williams' jumper.
Arizona owns a 58-40 series lead over USC, and the teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season...The Trojans won this tournament in 2009...The Wildcats last won this tourney in 2002...Arizona beat ninth-seeded Oregon State, 78-69, in the quarters on Thursday...Assistant coach Bob Cantu took O'Neill's place.
- USC: 62
Mar 11 11:10 PM
- USC: 28
Mar 11 9:57 PM
- USC: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 11 9:12 PM
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