Tubelis, Kriisa lead No. 7 Arizona over No. 19 USC 72-63
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Azuolas Tubelis scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Kerr Kriisa added 13 points and No. 7 Arizona rallied in the second half for a 72-63 win over No. 19 Southern Cal on Saturday.
The Wildcats knocked off another ranked opponent just two days after beating No. 3 UCLA 76-66. They’re 13-0 at home this season and have a 15-game home winning streak in Tucson dating back to last year.
It was a hard-fought win. Arizona (19-2, 9-1 Pac-12) trailed for a decent chunk of the second half and needed a 10-0 run late in the second half to take control.
Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans (19-4, 9-4) with 15 points.
USC went on a 10-0 run midway through the second half to take a 60-54 lead with 6:30 remaining. But Arizona responded quickly with six straight points, including Kriisa’s 3-pointer that drew nothing but net to tie it at 60-all less than a minute later.
The Wildcats tacked on four more points for their own 10-0 run and wouldn’t trail again. Kriisa was 3-of-5 from 3-point range, giving Arizona a lift in a game where offense wasn’t always easy to find.
USC jumped out to an early 10-5 lead but Arizona responded with the next nine points — capped by an alley-oop dunk by Dalen Terry following a perfect pass from Justin Kier. The game stayed tight throughout the first half and USC’s Ethan Anderson hit a tough baseline jumper at the buzzer to cut Arizona’s lead to 29-28 at the break.
The Trojans were coming off one of their worst offensive performances of the season, overcoming 30% shooting in a 58-53 win over Arizona State on Thursday. It was the first time in 25 years they won a game when shooting so poorly from the field.
USC struggled again offensively for much of the game before improving early in the second half. It didn’t lost — they cooled off again down the stretch and finished just 34% from the field.
Arizona was playing back-to-back top 20 opponents for the first time in more than three years. Christian Koloko added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats.
The game got off to a painful start when USC’s Boogie Ellis and Arizona’s Terry inadvertantly bumped heads in the opening minute.
Both players had to leave the court though each returned later in the first half. The collision was an indicator of what was to come in a very physical game by both teams.
It was a good showing for both Arizona and USC, with each hitting some big shots and showing grittiness with second-half runs.
Both teams are trending toward good things in March, though USC certainly needs to be more efficient offensively.
USC: Hosts Pacific in a non-conference game on Tuesday.
Arizona: Travels to face Arizona State on Monday.
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