Field Level Media
Mar 2, 2022
Bennedict Mathurin scored 19 points, Kerr Kriisa added 18 and No. 2 Arizona clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title with a 91-71 domination of No. 16 Southern California on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The Wildcats (26-3, 16-2 Pac-12), coming off a loss at unranked Colorado, were bracing for a conference showdown. However, they were in total command from the start against the second-place Trojans (25-5, 14-5), who had won six games in a row and were playing in front of a sold-out crowd on Senior Night.
Mathurin, a sophomore, also had a career-high six assists plus five rebounds and three steals to strengthen his case for Pac-12 Player of the Year honors. Justin Kier contributed 12 points, while Dalen Terry and Oumar Ballo each added 11.
Arizona earned its first regular-season conference title since sharing the crown with Oregon in 2016-17.
Max Agbonkpolo led USC with 14 points. Isaiah Mobley shot just 3 of 12 from the field but nearly had a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Chevez Goodwin contributed 10 points.
Drew Peterson, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, scored 10 points but struggled through a 2-of-11 shooting night. In two games against Arizona this season (both losses), he was 3-for-24 from the field, including 0-for-12 from 3-point range.
The Wildcats led 51-27 at halftime and twice pushed the gap to 30 points. The Trojans put together a 10-point run to get within 80-64 with 4:38 left, but Arizona answered with the next five points.
Kriisa rattled in a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game, setting an immediate tone for Arizona's run-and-gun first half in which it shot 55 percent (22 of 40). An early 10-0 run gave the Wildcats a 21-8 lead, and a later 6-0 stretch featured three dunks for a 39-21 advantage with 4:32 to go before halftime.
The Wildcats led by as many as 26 points before settling for a 24-point lead at the break. They made seven 3-pointers and threw down six dunks in the half against a USC team that had been limiting opponents to 38.1 percent field-goal shooting.
--Field Level Media