LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: (R-L) Isaiah Thomas and Darnell Gant #44 of the Washington Huskies react in the second half while taking on the Arizona Wildcats in the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Pac-10 Tournament 2011: Washington Wins Title With Buzzer-Beater To Beat Arizona

Huskies beat the Wildcats in the Pac-10 Tournament Title Game with clutch shooting.

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Isaiah Thomas Buzzer-Beater Wins Pac-10 Tournament For Washington Over Arizona

Isaiah Thomas may not have been named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, but when it counted most, he delivered. Thomas lifted the Washington Huskies over the Arizona Wildcats with a buzzer-beating jump shot in overtime to give his team the 77-75 win and the Pac-10 Tournament Title. Thomas finished with 28 points on 10-16 shooting.

Arizona's star, Derrick Williams, played well himself (24 points, 11 rebounds) and looked like he had won the game in regulation when he completed a three-point "And-1" play to give the Wildcats a three-point lead with just 22 seconds in the game. But the Huskies hit huge shots to earn the title, including three, three-pointers in the final 32 seconds of the game with the final one by C.J. Wilcox to tie the game and send it into an extra period.

In overtime, it was Arizona's Kevin Parrom who hit a clutch three to tie the game with seconds to go before Thomas won the game with an isolation pull-up jump shot that was well-defended. 

For more on the game, visit AZ Desert Swarm Wildcats blog as they commiserate over the heartbreaking loss.

Here's video of Thomas' shot:


Arizona, Washington Battle For Pac-10 Tournament Title

The Arizona Wildcats (27-6) look for their first Pac-10 Tournament crown since 2002 when they play the Washington Huskies (22-10) at 4:00 P.M. Arizona time. The Huskies are playing for their second consecutive Pac-10 Tournament title after running the table in 2010.

How did they get here?

Arizona was the number 1 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, and advanced by defeating 9th-seed Oregon State 78-69 in the quarterfinals and 4th-seeded USC 67-62 in the semifinals.

Washington was the third seeded team, and beat Washington State 89-87 in the quarterfinals and Oregon 69-51 in the semifinals. The Huskies had an easy road to the finals, playing the 6th and 7th-seeded teams in the conference. UCLA, the 2nd-seeded team in the conference, was upset by the Ducks on Thursday.

Who won the season series?

Arizona and Washington split their season series in 2011, with both teams winning on their home court. Washington defeated UA 85-68 on January 20, dealing Arizona its second Pac-10 loss of the season. The Wildcats returned the favor on February 19, securing a huge 87-86 victory over the Huskies. This game was close from start to finish, and Derrick Williams sealed the victory with a huge block in the lane with just seconds to play.

Who are the players to watch?

Arizona is led by Williams, who has averaged 19 points per game this season. He's averaging 21 ppg in the Pac-10 Tournament, and is the heart and soul of the Wildcats team. Not only does he scoop up loose rebounds with authority, he's also shooting 35-for-57 from beyond the arc this season (good for a 61.4%).

Washington is paced by a few stars, namely point guard Isaiah Thomas and center Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Both players average around 16 points a game and are good counterpoints for each other. Bryan-Amaning has improved a great deal over last season, when he only scored 8.8 ppg. A senior, he only has a few games left in his career, while Thomas is only a junior.

Washington guard Venoy Overton has been suspended for the entire Pac-10 Tournament for allegedly supplying alcohol to minors. He's under investigation by local police and may not suit up for the NCAA Tournament either. His scrappy play will be missed by the Huskies.

For more coverage of the Pac-10 Tournament and the Arizona Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.


Arizona Beats USC To Advance To Pac-10 Tournament Finals

The Arizona Wildcats were able to pull away in the second half and defeat the USC Trojans in the Pac-10 Semifinals by the score of 67-62. In a game of runs that saw the Trojans take an early lead, it was Sean Miller's Wildcats who went on a 10-2 run early in the second half and were able to hold off any further USC attempt at a comeback.

The Wildcats were led once again by Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams who scored 20 points on an extremely efficient 7-10 shooting. He hit all his big free throws down the stretch and was patient and effective within the flow of the balanced offense. 

The depth of the number-one seeded Arizona Wildcats also played a big role in their ability to win the game in the final minutes. The Trojans only used seven players (with one reserve only seeing a single minute of floor time) in the game. The Wildcats got 23 points from five players off their bench compared to just four bench points for USC.

USC was without head coach Kevin O'Neill who was suspended by the university due to an altercation with an Arizona fan at a hotel bar the previous evening. It is rumored that O'Neill will be fired by the the school on Monday.

With the win the Arizona Wildcats advance to the Pac-10 Tournament Finals tomorrow against the winner of tonight's Washington - Oregon game. 

For more on the game, visit AZ Desert Swarm.


Pac-10 Tournament Attendance: Los Angeles Failing To Support Conference Tournament

The Pac-10 Tournament is held in Los Angeles every March, and the city appears to have very little interest in actually heading out to the Staples Center for the games. Lets take a look at some statistics for the past few days.

The opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament began on Wednesday, beginning with Oregon State vs. Stanford and closing out with ASU against Oregon.

The games were billed as a single ticket, and attendance was tallied at 7,814. The Staples Center has a maximum capacity of 19,079, which means that the arena was at only 40.9% capacity. Considering the quality of the competition, I'll give the fans a break -- no LA teams were playing, and the bottom of the Pac-10 is barely above high school basketball at times.

The quarterfinals, however, are a different story. A full day of games (four, to be exact) and both USC and UCLA were participating in the festivities. Here's a table breaking down the attendance from Thursday:


For a full slate of games featuring both Los Angeles schools, a highly-ranked Arizona Wildcats team, and 3 or 4 likely NCAA Tournament teams, this attendance is subpar at best.

When I was a senior in college a few years back, I covered the Pac-10 Tournament for House Of Sparky. James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph led the Sun Devils all the way to the title game before they lost in exciting fashion to the USC Trojans.

The crowd in the early days was underwhelming, but the finals were well-attended by Trojan fans. The game had an attendance of 16,988. Even when a local team was gunning for the Pac-10 title, the arena was still only 89% full. Is this acceptable? I say no.

Addicted to Quack has put together a plea to Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott to move the Pac-12 Tournament to various sites, thereby increasing the novelty factor and providing improved revenue for the conference. I'm a big proponent of this idea, and after the agreement to host the tournament expires in 2012, the Pac-12 should move it around. Los Angeles, you had your chance.


Pac-10 Tournament 2011: Scores And Schedule As Arizona Advances To Semi's Vs. USC

The Pac-10 Tournament featured four games on the men's side yesterday, with three of the teams advancing easily while the fourth and final game of the day finished with only a two-point margin. Semifinal play continues today with Arizona (1) vs. USC (4) and Washington (3) vs. Oregon (7) on the schedule for this evening.

In the first game of the day, USC (4) defeated California (5) by the score of 70-56. According to SB Nation Los Angeles, Maurice Jones had a team-high 16 points for the Trojans on 6-11 shooting from the field. The leading scorer on the day was Allen Crabbe of California, who put in 21 points. After the game, USC coach Kevin O'Neill and his wife was reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with an Arizona fan at hotel.

The second game saw Arizona (1) handily defeat Oregon State 78-69 behind Pac-10 Player of the Year, Derrick Williams who scored 22 points in the game. 

In the upset of the tournament the seventh-seeded Oregon Ducks defeated second seed UCLA in a 76-59 romp. E.J. Singler led the Ducks with 24 points on just nine shot attempts.

The final game of Thursday's action was a rematch of the Apple Cup with Washington (3) defeating their in-state rivals, Washington State (6) in a tight 89-87 game. Washington State Cougar Klay Thompson set a new Pac-10 Tournament scoring record with 43 points in the Cougars loss.

Semifinal Schedule:

Arizona (1) vs. USC (4) at 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports Arizona.

Oregon (7) vs. Washington (3) at 9:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Arizona.


USC Coach Kevin O’Neill Under Investigation For Altercation With Arizona Fan During Pac-10 Tournament

In the most bizarre story to come out of the Pac-10 Tournament so far, USC Trojans Men's Basketball coach Kevin O'Neill is reportedly under investigation for a drunken altercation with an Arizona Wildcat fan. O'Neill, who was the interim coach at U of A in 2007-08, and his wife were apparently at a hotel where they had the encounter the resulted in their being removed from the building. The incident happened just hours after USC beat Cal 70-56 on Thursday.

"We have received some information [Thursday night] about an incident involving coach Kevin O'Neill, his wife and a fan from another school that occurred following our men's basketball game today," USC athletic director Pat Haden said in the statement. "We are looking into this and gathering facts. We will determine what appropriate action is necessary."

According to the web site PointGuardU.com, "O'Neill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. O'Neill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to 'beat the hell out of Arizona.' Words were exchanged and our sources say that O'Neill's wife struck one of the Arizona fans."

USC is scheduled to play Arizona in the Pac-10 semifinals today at 7:00 p.m. local time.


Pac-10 Tournament: Arizona Basketball Defeats Oregon State, Advances To Play USC

Arizona (26-6), the top seed in the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament, took care of business against the Oregon State Beavers on Thursday afternoon with a 78-69 victory.

With the win, the Wildcats advanced to the semifinals of the tournament to face the 4th seed, the USC Trojans. In their last matchup, Arizona and Derrick Williams were defeated by the smothering defense of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson.

The Wildcats are looking to strengthen their seeding in this year's NCAA Tournament. They are currently projected to be a fifth seed by SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean.

The Trojans are 19-13 and need to beat Arizona to solidify their case to make the NCAA Tournament. USC was banned from postseason play last year, and to make March Madness in 2011 would be a great improvement for Kevin O'Neill's team.

USC got to the semifinals by beating the California Golden Bears 70-56 in the opening game of the quarterfinals on Thursday. Maurice Jones scored 16 points and Stepheson added 14.

The game will tip off tomorrow, Friday evening, at 7:00 P.M. Arizona time and will be televised by FSN. For more Arizona basketball coverage, head on over to AZ Desert Swarm.


Pac-10 Tournament Schedule: Quarterfinals, Four Games Beginning With USC/Cal

After an exciting night of basketball in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament, the quarterfinals kick off with the 4th/5th seed game between the USC Trojans and the California Golden Bears.

Tipoff is slated for 1:00 P.M. Arizona time. The Trojans (18-13, 10-8 Pac-10) are a fringe bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, and need to come up with at least two wins in the Pac-10 Tournament to have a shot come Selection Sunday. California (17-13, 10-8 Pac-10) will have to win the title to have a stake in March Madness.

After the conclusion of that game, the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats will play the Oregon State Beavers at 3:30 P.M. Arizona time, who took care of business against the Stanford Cardinal on Wednesday evening, winning 69-67. Arizona went 25-6 with a solid 14-4 mark in Pac-10 play, and are the favorites to win this tournament.

At 7:00 P.M. Arizona time, the second-seeded UCLA Bruins face the Oregon Ducks, the seventh seed who beat the Arizona State Sun Devils handily in the opening round of the tournament. 

A full day of basketball closes out with Washington and Washington State. Suspended Cougar Klay Thompson, a First Team All-Pac-10 player in 2011, has been reinstated for the tournament. Thompson was suspended for alleged possession of marijuana. The tipoff for this contest is slated for 9:40 P.M. Arizona time.

For the full bracket, check it out here. For more coverage on Arizona basketball, head on over to AZ Desert Swarm.


Pac-10 Tournament: ASU Blown Out By Oregon

If you're a fan of Arizona State, their disastrous effort against the Oregon Ducks was hard to watch. After seeing the Devils defeat both Oregon schools handily last weekend, getting blown out by E.J. Singler and the Ducks is a huge disappointment.

What was the biggest problem? A lack of defensive effort from the Sun Devils. Oregon was able to shoot threes without pressure from the ASU zone. The Devils were able to make a small comeback midway through the second half, but a 20-point deficit was far too much to come back from.

This loss caps off a season that completely got away from coach Herb Sendek, who didn't seem to have the answers to the problems his team faced. ASU will not qualify for any postseason tournaments, and the careers of Ty Abbott, Rihards Kuksiks, and Jamelle McMillan are officially over after an ugly 12-19 season.

Should Herb Sendek not be able to right the ship in 2011-12, he could be walking on thin ice. After three consecutive seasons of 20+ wins, Sendek has proven that he has a lot to learn about consistent success in the Pac-10 after this season.

For more Sun Devils coverage, check out House Of Sparky. Though they're probably moving on to baseball now, or dreaming about a good football season with Brock Osweiler at the helm.


Pac-10 Tournament Opening Round: Arizona State, Oregon Face Off

Ty Abbott and the Arizona State Sun Devils (12-18, 4-14 Pac-10) look to continue their positive momentum tonight when they take on the Oregon Ducks in the opening round of the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament in the Staples Center, located in Los Angeles.

With their only hope of playing in March Madness being an improbable run through the conference tournament, the first step is to defeat a Ducks team that has already fallen twice to ASU in 2011.

Abbott, one of ASU's three seniors, scored 44 points in his final home series last weekend, dropping 22 points against both Oregon and Oregon State in Tempe. Rihards Kuksiks and Jamelle McMillan have also played significant roles in the recent resurgence of the Sun Devils, who have won 3 of their last 5 games and are playing well.

Oregon has fallen on hard times recently, but finished the regular season with a seventh seed in the conference tournament, a step up from 2009-10 when they finished in ninth place in the conference. They are led by E.J. Singler, brother of Duke star Kyle Singler, who averages around ten points a game for the Ducks. They have recently opened up an incredible, $200 million basketball arena and should be back on the basketball map within the next few years.

Before the game, Addicted To Quack, SB Nation's Oregon blog, answered a few questions for House Of Sparky. Here's a glimpse at what they were talking about:

HoS: Oregon is 0-2 against the Sun Devils this season. Any reason to believe that they can turn it around on Wednesday night against ASU?

AtQ: Well, there's some hope, only because the Ducks shouldn't lose to a team like the Sun Devils 3 times, should they? Unfortunately, ASU's zone gives Oregon fits. The Ducks simply don't have a go-to player that can take down a zone. A lot of players have to be playing well to be successful. That has happened in some games, but most definitely didn't happen in the two ASU games. The Sun Devils forced the Ducks into terrible shooting, and the Ducks didn't do anything to try and attack the Sun Devil defense. A pathetic defensive effort in the second game didn't help things.

I don't think Oregon will be losing by twenty this time around, but I'm not feeling all that great about the matchup. I think it ends up being a coin toss game.

For more Arizona State Sun Devils coverage, check out House Of Sparky.


Pac-10 Tournament Schedule: Stanford, Oregon State Tips Off At 7:10 P.M. AZT

The beginning of the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament is close. After giving the participating schools a few days off to rest and practice, the four day competition tips off at 7:10 P.M. Arizona time this evening on FSN.

Tonight is the opening round of the tournament, where the bottom four schools (Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, and Arizona State) battle it out to earn the right to play Arizona and UCLA in the next round.

Oddly enough, I've been looking forward to this tournament all week. Maybe it's because the Sun Devils have won their last two games, or maybe because I love the postseason of NCAA basketball, but either way: March Madness has arrived.

Based on recent trends, expect Stanford and ASU to advance to the quarterfinals. Both Oregon and Oregon State lost both of their last two contests, and have been fairly uncompetitive as of late. Stanford and Oregon State split their season series, with both games being won by the home school. At a neutral site, expect the Cardinal to reign supreme. ASU swept the season series against the Ducks.

To check out the full bracket, go here.


Pac-10 Tournament Schedule: Arizona, ASU Game Times

The Pac-10 Tournament is set to tip off tomorrow night, and it's time for both Arizona and ASU fans to pay attention.

Oregon State and Stanford are the opening salvo of the tournament, and the game is slated for 7:10 P.M. Arizona time. The winner of this game will advance to take on the Wildcats in the second round of the tournament, scheduled for 3:40 P.M. Arizona time on Thursday afternoon.

ASU tips off against Oregon at 9:40 P.M. Arizona on Wednesday night, and the victor of that matchup will face the UCLA Bruins at 9:30 P.M. on Thursday night.

This is the first time that the Pac-10 men's and women's tournaments have been hosted at the same venue, and as the semifinals and finals of both competitions will take place on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Should Arizona advance to the semifinals, they would take on the victor of the matchup between USC and California at 7:10 P.M. on Friday night.

All of the games in the first three rounds of the Pac-10 Tournament will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net, while  the championship game will be nationally televised on CBS.

Check out the full bracket and Pac-10 standings here. For more Arizona hoops coverage, check out AZ Desert Swarm. For ASU basketball, head on over to House Of Sparky.


Arizona's Derrick Williams Named PAC-10 Player Of The Year, Sean Miller Coach Of The Year

The 10 coaches of the Pac-10 Conference voted Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams has the 2010-11 Pac-10 Men's Basketball Player of the Year. Wildcats Sean Miller was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year as well. The Wildcats finished the regular season 25-6 (14-4 Pac-10) and nabbed the top seed for the Conference Tournament and secured their first Pac-10 regular season title since 2004-05. 

The ASU Sun Devils finished their disappointing season 12-18 (4-14 Pac-10) with blowout wins over Oregon and Oregon State over the weekend. They will be the 10th seed in the tournament which begins on Wednesday. The Sun Devils did receive one award for their season: Sophomore guard Trent Lockett was named second-team All-Pac-10.

ASU faces Oregon on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. local time on Fox Sports Network. Arizona plays it's first game on Thursday against the winner of Stanford (8) vs. Oregon State (9). That game is at 3:30 p.m. local time.

Other awards include:

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Allen Crabbe, California
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington

AZ Desert Swarm blog has more on the Wildcats award winners:

Derrick Williams named Pac-10 Player of the Year, Miller earns COY - Arizona Desert Swarm
No surprises here -- after Washington Husky Isaiah Thomas' stellar play dropped off toward the end of the season and Washington State Cougar Klay Thompson got caught with some marijuana, it was Arizona Wildcat Derrick Williams who won the Pacific 10 Conference's Player of the Year award.

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