Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton had a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds to lead the top-seeded and No. 15 Wildcats to the finals of the Pac-12 tournament with an 78-67 overtime victory over the UCLA Bruins at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Sophomore guard Rawle Alkins scored 15 points, senior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 11 points and senior center Dusan Ristic had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (26-7), who scored all of the 11 overtime points while avenging their prior loss to UCLA on Feb. 8, Arizona’s only home loss of the regular season.
Ayton scored 13 straight Arizona points down the stretch, the final six points of regulation before UCLA freshman guard Jaylen Hands tied the game at 67-67 on a layup with 8.3 seconds remaining to send the game to the extra session. Ayton took over again, scoring the first seven points in overtime as the Wildcats blanked the Bruins in the decisive five-minute period.
Senior center Thomas Welsh had 17 points and tied a career high with 17 rebounds and junior guard Aaron Holiday had 15 points for the Bruins (21-11), who missed all seven of their field-goal attempts in overtime.
Freshman starting guard Kris Wilkes had 12 points and senior forward Gyorgy Goloman had nine points and two 3-pointers for the UCLA, which already had cemented its spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Defending champion Arizona will USC, who defeated Oregon 74-54, in the final on Saturday. The Wildcats beat USC in their only meeting on Feb. 10.
Ayton had his 22nd double-double, tying the Arizona freshman record set by Al Fleming. Former Bruins star Kevin Love holds the Pac-12 record with 23.
Welsh had his 18th double-double of the season. Ayton and Welsh were the only Pac-12 players to average a double-double this season. Ayton averaged 19.6 points and a league-high 11.3 rebounds. Welsh averaged 12.8 and 10.5.
Ayton had a free throw, two layups and a 15-footer in the first three minutes of overtime for a 74-67 lead Arizona never lost.
Holiday, who entered with a conference-leading 20.5 scoring average, was 5 of 20 from the field while being guarded mainly by Jackson-Cartwright. Holiday was 3 of 12 on 3-pointers. He has 84 threes this season, second in the league.
Arizona committed only six turnovers.
—Field Level Media