Pac-12 Championship Hangover? No. 5 Arizona Basketball falls to USC

Feb 10, 2024; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Jaden Bradley (0) in the second half
Feb 10, 2024; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Jaden Bradley (0) in the second half / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES, CA – Playing its last regular season game in the Pac-12 Conference, it was not one to remember as No. 5 Arizona Basketball (24-7, 15-5) fell to USC (14-17, 8-12), 78-65.

Well, it was not quite a storybook ending like many had hoped. Just days after knocking off Pac-12 rival UCLA inside the storied Pauley Pavilion to clench the last-ever Pac-12 Regular Season Championship, No. 5 Arizona Basketball looked a bit lethargic, perhaps hungover from its Thursday night thumping of the Bruins.

Returning to action against a healthier and more talented USC team than what we saw earlier in the year, the Trojans entered Saturday night's action, looking to play spoiler.

And spoil they did. Holding the Wildcats to a season-low 65 points on 38.7 percent shooting from the field, including 6-21 (28.6 percent) from three, this one was UGLY for Arizona Basketball.

Oumar Ballo and Keshad Johnson were the only Wildcats to finish in double-figures on the night, each scoring 17 points respectively, meanwhile, Caleb Love, Kylan Boswell, and Pelle Larsson struggled mightily, combining for just 12 points on 5-25 shooting (2-14 from three).

The Trojans went on to win by a 78-65 final, handing Arizona its third loss to a sub .500 team. Yuck!

Despite shooting just 36.4 percent from the field, and 1-8 from three, luckily, No. 5 Arizona Basketball only trailed by four at the half.

Looking to cap off its final LA road trip with a sweep over the Trojans on Saturday evening, unfortunately, a win in Galen Center was not in the cards for the Wildcats in their final regular season game as a Pac-12 Conference member.

Despite a competitive start in which the Wildcats jumped out to an early 18-16 lead after Jaden Bradley's jumper off of a USC turnover, Arizona was never really able to sustain any offensive momentum in the first half.

Using a stifling defensive effort, USC would respond, answering with an 11-4 run to make it 27-22 in favor of the Trojans with 4:25 to play in the first half.

Finally, showing some offensive life, Arizona would answer with a run of its own, using an 8-2 scoring spurt to put the Cats up 30-29 with 1:35 to play.

But unfortunately, that would be the Wildcats' only sign of life in this one. USC closed out the half on a 5-0 run, capitalized by a Bronny James three just before the half to make it 34-30, Trojans.

Hoping to see some kind of life from Arizona to begin the second, the offensive woes would, unfortunately, continue for the Cats, as USC quickly upped its lead to eight, just 90 seconds into the second half.

Rallying with a 5-0 run of its own to cut USC's lead to three at the 17:26 mark, the Trojans wouldn't let up, answering every scoring spurt by the Wildcats as they maintained its lead.

Arizona would pull within three again after back-to-back deep balls from Keshad Johnson made it 46-43, but that would be the closest the Wildcats would get in this one.

USC would answer with a 14-6 scoring run to put the Trojans up 11 with 8:49 to play. And although Arizona did its best come back in this one, SC continued to pour it on, going up by as many as 16 with Joshua Morgan flushed a dunk to make it 77-61.

Arizona would eventually fall by a 78-65 final.

With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 24-7 (15-5) on the year and will turn its focus to the conference tournament as they take on the winner of Washington (8) or USC (9). Tip-off on Thursday is set for 12:00 P.M. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

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