West Second Round Recap
by Adam Reich
Power conferences collide in San Jose, California as Big 12 Tournament
champion Oklahoma takes on Pac-10 Tournament champion Arizona in a West
No. 2 Oklahoma 78, No. 7 Xavier 65
Oklahoma forward Aaron McGhee got the better of Xavier center Tim West in a
game that shaped up as a battle of big men. McGhee scored 25 points, including
11 of the Sooners’ first 18. However, guard Romain Sato kept the Musketeers
close, scoring 20 of his game high 28 points in the first half. After
hitting only one field goal in the first 17 minutes of the game, West scored
10 straight points to tie the game at 40 with just over 16 minutes remaining.
From there McGhee took over, scoring eight of OU’s next 11 points as the
Sooners opened up a lead they would never relinquish. Oklahoma guards Ebi
Ere (20 pts), Hollis Price (12 pts) and Quannas White (9 pts) pressured the
Xavier ballhandlers the entire game, as the Sooners forced 17 turnovers.
No. 3 Arizona 68, No. 11 Wyoming 60
Arizona answered a lot of questions on Saturday as they muscled up to a
physical Wyoming squad and walked away with a 68-60 victory. Arizona, who has
beaten opponents all year by utilizing its quickness and athleticism, won
this game with its play in the paint. The Wildcats were led by junior forward
Luke Walton (21 pts) and freshman center Channing Frye (18 pts). With Arizona
leading 58-55 with five minutes to go, Walton converted twice in the post
extending the lead to nine and crushing any chance of a Wyoming comeback.
The Wildcats not only had to deal with the Cowboys’ Josh Davis and Marcus
Bailey (17 pts each), but also faced a hostile crowd that began booing the
Wildcats during warm-ups.
West Regional Semifinal
Two of the hottest teams in the country will meet Thursday night with the
winner receiving a spot in the West Regional Final. Oklahoma has won 10
straight games thanks to its defense and tremendous strength on the inside,
while Arizona has played its toughest basketball since the Pac-10 Tournament.
In order to hang with the Sooners, the Cats will need another great
performance out of freshman center Channing Frye, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds
and five blocks against Wyoming. Oklahoma will need to find an answer for Arizona
point guard Jason Gardner and his ability to dissect the defense with his
dribble penetration. He is averaging 21 points and six assists per game in
the tournament, and has committed only two turnovers while playing all 40
minutes in both games.
This game has all the makings of an instant classic. Oklahoma has inside
strength with Aaron McGhee and perimeter quickness with a trio of lightning
quick guards. Arizona offers an extremely athletic team and an all-conference
point guard in Jason Gardner. The Wildcats are also a very deep team, and if
they get the Sooners to play an up-tempo game they would have an advantage.
However, the Sooners should have no problem pounding the ball down low to
McGhee and they will use a number of defenders on Gardner in the hopes of
slowing him down. In this one, look for OU to beat up the smaller Cats on the
boards and frustrate Gardner with their full-court press.
Prediction: Oklahoma 77, Arizona 73