No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 Arizona meet in powerhouse Pac-12 semi

LAS VEGAS -- Arizona and UCLA split their regular-season series, each winning on the other's home court.

The best-of-three finale will take place on a neutral court, in the Pac-12 semifinals, in front of a sold-out crowd at the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena.

This will be the most epic semifinal in the history of the Pac-12 tournament, as both teams are still in the hunt for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the West regional. UCLA (29-3) is ranked No. 3 in the country. Arizona (28-4) is No. 7.

No. 5 Oregon will play unranked Cal in the other semifinal.

Arizona won 96-85 in Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 21, with the Bruins dealing Arizona a rare McKale Center loss on Feb. 25, 77-72. That was Arizona's second defeat in the past 72 games in Tucson.

The setback stuck with Arizona senior guard Kadeem Allen a little longer than most.

"Just because of the night -- it was Senior Night," Allen said. "It was tough how we didn't really block out and they got offensive rebounds. To lose on Senior Night, it hurt. But we had to understand they're a good team and there were more games to be played and we had to move on.

"Hopefully, (Friday) ... we'll get revenge."

Allen made it clear after Arizona's 92-78 victory over Colorado on Thursday night that he was hoping UCLA would beat USC in the nightcap. The Bruins hung on to win 76-74.

"Well, it's a tremendous matchup," UCLA coach Steve Alford said of meeting Arizona again. "It's going to be a very difficult game, and we have an awful lot of respect for them. We know we're going to have to be better tomorrow night than what we were tonight."

In the most recent meeting, UCLA outrebounded Arizona 35-28, including a 14-4 edge on the offensive glass. The Bruins had a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points. That rarely happens to a Sean Miller-coached team.

"It was a good game," said UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who already earned has multiple All-America awards. "But, once again, it's in the past. We've got to take it, learn from it, see the good, see the bad, move forward."

The Bruins have won 10 consecutive games, a stretch that includes two victories over USC, a win over Oregon and the triumph in Tucson.

UCLA first-team all-conference forward TJ Leaf, coming back after missing most of two games with a sprained ankle, played 33 minutes Thursday night and produced 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.

"Tremendous," Alford said. "That was big for us."

UCLA has six players averaging in double-figure points and entered the tournament as the highest-scoring team in the nation at 91.3 points per game.

Arizona is more known for its defense, but it has firepower, too, especially if freshman 7-footer Lauri Markkanen has regained his shooting stroke. He went 4 of 7 from 3-point range against Colorado after hitting just 5 of 28 in his previous eight games. He is averaging 15.3 points per game.

Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier is averaging a team-best 16.6 and has scored at least 19 in five consecutive games.

"I'm just going out there being myself," said Trier, who missed the first 19 games of the season because of an NCAA suspension. "I'm trying to help my teammates the best I can and contribute and give them something they didn't have for the 19 games I didn't play."
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