2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament: Allonzo Trier named Most Outstanding Player after leading Arizona to title
LAS VEGAS – The confetti rained down and he hoisted the Most Outstanding Player trophy high overhead while his teammates hooted and hollered by his side. It was only a 2-foot tall podium at center court, but Allonzo Trier might as well have been on top of the world.
That’s because the Arizona Wildcats are your 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball champions. In front of yet another sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Sin City, No. 2 seed Arizona edged top seed Oregon, 83-80, in the Pac-12 Tournament title game on Saturday night.
“It has never been easy for us,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We have dealt with adversity and obstacles as much as almost any group that I've been a part of, and yet we've been able to continue to climb and grow. You always hope that it comes together for you in March. Right now that's really what's happened."
As late as mid-January, this night might have seemed impossible for Trier. The NCAA suspended the super sophomore before the season started, for having trace amounts of a banned performance-enhancing drug he received while trying to recover from an injury.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 12, 2017
But on Jan. 20, everything changed for Trier and the Wildcats, as he was reinstated and ruled eligible to return immediately. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Arizona, who rolled to a 96-85 win over UCLA the following day. In his 15 games with the team, Trier has been the team’s leading scorer (17.3 ppg) while helping the Wildcats to a 13-2 record in that span.
Now, those 19 games when Trier was just a spectator on the bench seem like a lifetime away.
“I don't think we had the picture painted like this,” Trier said. “Everything looked so down. But just extremely proud to be a part of this team. Extremely happy to be able to play basketball again and do something I really loved that was taken away from me for quite an extended period of time.”
On Saturday night, Trier scored a team-high 23 points with his usual slashing ways, while going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. He also buried four clutch free throws as Oregon made a strong push in the final minute, following a stretch when Arizona missed five straight attempts at the charity stripe.
“It's like a dream come true,” Miller said. “How we envisioned it going for him, I couldn't think of a more appropriate ending than watching him walk away with the MVP.”
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) March 12, 2017
The first half was closely contested, featuring four lead changes, four ties and neither team could go up by more than eight. Arizona took a 35-29 lead into the locker room at the break before coming out strong in the second half, pushing its advantage to 14 when Trier nailed a 3-pointer at the 15:22 mark. But the Ducks hung around, despite being without big man and defensive stalwart Chris Boucher, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the semifinal against Cal on Friday.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks asserted himself early, scoring eight of the Ducks’ first 12 points, and continued to make plays throughout the night. He was named to the Pac-12 Tournament team after dropping a game-high 25 points in the title game. Teammate Tyler Dorsey was also named to the All-Tournament team after having his third straight stellar game, posting 23 points for the Ducks. Oregon big man Jordan Bell made a bevy of impressive hustle plays and buckets for the Ducks en route to 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Alas, the Ducks were denied their bid for back-to-back Pac-12 Tournament titles. Still, Oregon should receive a very good seed in the NCAA Tournament after going 29-5 overall and 16-2 during the Pac-12 regular season.
“We're going to remember this feeling,” Dorsey said. “We're going to bounce back, put it in our rear view mirror and get ready. We're going to come out, get ready and play harder and bring more energy.”
"@aplayersprogram can win the national championship."
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 12, 2017
Trier was one of four double-digit scorers for the Wildcats, along with Kadeem Allen (13), Lauri Markkanen (11) and Chance Comanche (10). Markkanen was named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament team after averaging 20 points per game for Arizona in Las Vegas. Miller was also quick to praise little man Parker Jackson-Cartwright for making clutch buckets and coming down with a big rebound late in the game.
But perhaps no one enjoyed the victory more than Trier.
“This is just a great feeling,” Trier said. “I appreciate every time I take the court. I don't take the game for granted at all.”
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