USC, Arizona Advance to Pac-10 Title Game
March 9, 2002
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Feeling cheated by two close losses to Pac-10 championOregon, Southern California was determined not to let the Ducks take the leaguetournament title, too.
The 22nd-ranked Trojans made sure the No. 9 Ducks won't be hoisting a trophyin Los Angeles, winning 89-78 Friday night in the Pac-10 semifinals.
Fourth-seeded USC finished in a four-way tie for second place during theregular season, losing at Oregon by four points and by two points a week ago inLos Angeles.
'We felt that Oregon took the championship away from us,' said JerryDupree, one of six Trojans in double figures with 12 points.
In the other semifinal, 15th-ranked Arizona defeated No. 25 California90-78.
Saturday's final at Staples Center will feature USC (22-8) and Arizona(21-9), which split two games this season.
'They're playing better than anybody in the country,' Arizona guard JasonGardner said of the Trojans. 'The main thing is we've got to keep them off theglass, not commit too many turnovers.'
The tournament winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, althoughsix Pac-10 teams could be invited when pairings are announced Sunday.
'SC is a great team,' Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. 'They've got a chanceto go deep in the NCAA tournament, and so do we.'
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for top-seeded Oregon (23-8), thePac-10 regular-season champion for the first time in 57 years.
Dupree cracked USC's starting lineup for just the fifth time this season.His athletic play produced 10 points and sparked the Trojans against Stanfordon Thursday.
Against Oregon, Dupree had three assists, two blocked shots and two stealsin 31 minutes. Coach Henry Bibby decided 1 hours before tip-off to start thesophomore, who's in his first season at USC.
'It's been a rough year, I wasn't doing the things I was supposed to do,'said Dupree, who spent a year at a junior college to improve his grades.
'Coach Bibby wanted me to play a certain way. I had a reality check tounderstand.'
The Trojans improved to 7-0 when at least five players score in doublefigures. Brandon Granville and reserve Desmon Farmer had 17 points each. SamClancy added 16, Errick Craven 14 and David Bluthenthal 13.
USC made all of its 22 free throws, a Pac-10 record.
The Trojans' full-court pressure forced the Ducks into 21 turnovers,including nine by Luke Ridnour. The Trojans put the game away by outscoringOregon 26-10 over the final 11 minutes.
'If we can play defense like we did tonight, we're going to be fine downthe road,' Bibby said.
Frederick Jones led Oregon with 20 points. Ridnour added 18, and LukeJackson 16.
'In the second half we slowed ourselves down too much,' Kent said. 'Wedidn't attack their press enough. I thought they had the momentum the entiresecond half. We weren't getting the stops.'
Trailing by seven points, USC took the lead for good with a 20-3 run whilethe Ducks went 5 minutes without scoring. Clancy, Dupree and Craven each hadsix points, including several baskets off Oregon's miscues.
In the second semifinal, Arizona had a great shooting night for the thirdtime in as many games against the Golden Bears this season, and it resulted inanother victory.
Jason Gardner scored 25 points, Luke Walton added 20 and the Wildcats made33-of-57 shots (57.9 percent).
Arizona shot 54.8 percent in beating the Bears 68-58 at Haas Pavilion onJan. 31 - Cal's only loss at home in 18 games - and 48.5 percent in a stunning99-53 victory in Tucson, Ariz., last Saturday, the second-worst loss in Calhistory.
'I think the problem for them with us is when we've moved the ball, we'vebeen able to get good shots,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'I don't thinkthat's happened with too many teams who've played them.'
In Cal's 28 regular-season games, its opponents made only 41.1 percent oftheir shots.
'Basically, they just flat-out hit shots,' said Cal's Brian Wethers, whoscored 17 of his 22 points in the first half. 'There's something about Arizonathat brings out poor defense in us.'
Arizona has won seven straight and 10 of 11 over Cal.
Joe Shipp scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Bears,who outrebounded Arizona 38-23 but committed 16 turnovers to only eight for theWildcats.
'The obvious area we have to get solved is we were a very bad defensiverebounding team, and SC rebounds as well as anybody off the offensive boards,'Olson said. 'We've got to get that straightened out.
'We had 16 defensive rebounds and Cal had 15 offensive rebounds. Those arebad numbers.'
Cal, which never led, drew within six points with 3:35 remaining on Shipp'ssecond straight basket, but Walton scored four points in a 6-1 Arizona run thatclinched the victory.