Bennie Boatwright had 22 points and 11 rebounds as USC beat Arizona 78-65 in a first-round Pac-12 tournament game in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon.
The game was tied at 40 at halftime, but Boatwright led the charge after the break, scoring eight points during a 15-3 run to open the half as the Trojans took control and were never threatened after that.
Boatwright, a 6-foot-10 forward, made 4 of 11 3-point attempts and also had four assists.
Eighth-seeded USC (16-16) advances to play top-seeded Washington in the first quarterfinal game Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. The Trojans entered the conference tournament having lost four consecutive games and seven of their last nine.
Arizona (17-15) will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 and for the third time in coach Sean Miller’s 10 seasons.
Derryck Thornton scored 12 points for USC. Shaqquan Aaron added 11.
Ryan Luther led Arizona with 16 points, making 7 of 11 shots. Brandon Williams scored 13, hitting 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. Ira Lee had 11 points.
Arizona guard Brandon Randolph, averaging a team-best 12.8 points but slumping recently, came off the bench for the first time this season. He struggled again, making 1 of 6 shots en route to two points.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent in the first half but went cold against USC’s 2-3 zone, missing their first eight 3-point attempts of the second half and falling behind 63-45 with 10:34 left. Dylan Smith broke the ice with a 3-pointer, but Arizona never trimmed its deficit below 13 points.
Arizona, which shot 27.8 percent in an 80-57 loss at USC earlier this season, made 32.3 percent (10 of 31) of its field-goal attempts in the second half Wednesday.
USC took its first lead of the game at 13-12 on Boatwright’s 3-pointer, which was part of an 18-2 run that included a 3-pointer from Kevin Porter Jr. that bounced off the rim, spun on top of the backboard and fell through the rim.
The Trojans pushed the lead to 23-12 to complete the run on Boatwright’s jumper, but Arizona — helped by making its final six shots of the half — battled back to take a two-point lead before settling for a 40-40 tie at the break.
—Field Level Media