That’s Arizona and Washington, respectively.
The third-seeded Huskies earned their way in Friday with a 69-51 win over No. 7 Oregon at Staples Center.
It was a victory fueled by defense, just the way that coach Lorenzo Romar likes it.
Again tonight, Romar stuck with the starting lineup that had won the quarterfinal match against Washington State, including freshmen C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross.
This time, however, Washington came out cold. Fortunately for them, the Ducks came out colder and stayed cold longer – in part due to an aggressive UW zone defense.
Slowly, the Huskies opened daylight and then kept Oregon at arm’s length most of the way.
Oregon’s only first-half run came during a brief stretch when Tacoma’s own Isaiah Thomas went to the bench for the first time in this tournament. However, that didn’t last long and Thomas’ return ended the run.
Oregon made one more run in the second half, and Thomas again was instrumental in ending it. About 10 minutes from the end, Oregon cut the UW lead to 44-40, when Thomas nailed a three from the top of the arc. Soon after, Ross hit one too, and the Dawgs had breathing room again. A few minutes later, a four-point play by Wilcox settled it.
Next, the Huskies and Wildcats will meet for the tournament trophy at 3:10 p.m. Saturday. “Means a lot,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after his Wildcats advanced with a 67-62 win over USC. “We came here trying to separate our regular season championship and pursue a quest for the conference tournament championship. You have that postseason now, and these guys understand that from this point forward after a lot of hard work and a great regular season, that when you lose, you go home. We talked a lot about trying to be at our best.”
During the regular season, the Washington and Arizona split their two meetings. The Huskies won 85-68 in Seattle on Jan. 20, while the Wildcats won 87-86 in Tucson on Feb. 19.
• With 12 assists tonight, Isaiah Thomas moved into fourth place on Washington’s career assists list, passingteammate Venoy Overton. Thomas has 393 in his career.• Thomas recorded his !fth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 assists.• Isaiah tied the single-game Pac-10 Tournament record with his 12 assists.• Isaiah Thomas has notched 10 or more assists in back-to-back games for the second time this season and isonly the third Husky to do so.• Oregon set a new school record for steals in a season as the Ducks now have 270 (8 tonight). The teampassed the previous mark of 263 set in the 2002-03 season.• Washington advances to the Championship game for the second year in a row as a No. 3 seed.• Washington is 2-2 all-time in the Championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament.• The Ducks only lead of the game came at the 17:47 mark in the !rst half (2-0). Oregon cut the lead to fourpoints with 9:49 in the second half (44-40).• Oregon's 51 points was the lowest out-put against a Pac-10 opponent this season.• UO shot 16.7 percent on 3-pointers, the lowest percentage since shooting 5.9 percent against Arizona in thePac-10 Conference opener on Dec. 30.• Joevan Catron (18 points) has scored 85 points in eight career games against Washington (10.6 ppg). Thisseason he averaged 19.3 ppg in three games against the Huskies this season.• Catron led the team in scoring for the 17th time this season (20th time of his career). He also led the team inrebounding, something Catron has done 16 times this season (42 times on the career). He fell just onerebound shy of registering his 11th career double-double (18 points, 9 rebounds).• Malcolm Armstead reached double !gures in scoring for the fourth consecutive game (!fth time in the lastsix games).• Armstead, establishing a new career-high with six steals on Friday night, remains in sixth place all-time forcareer steals at UO (now with 139 steals in 64 games). He recently moved by Aaron Brooks who recorded127 steals in 115 career games. Anthony Taylor ranks !fth with 147 steals in 115 career games.3:58
11:15 UW, 44-36. Lid shutting on the Huskies a little bit.
2nd/13:21 UW, 44-34.
2nd/17:35 UW, 39-25. Back to back UW steals and finishes. Feels like a key moment.
Second half ... has begun.
Halftime: UW 30, Oregon 21.
Washington shooting 40 percent, Oregon 34.6 percent. Rebounds even at 17. UW eight assists and three turnovers. Oregon five assists and seven turnovers. Washington bench outscoring Oregon's 15-7.
By looks and by stats, it feels like UW should have more than a nine-point lead.
Individually, Suggs leads UW with eight points. Three Ducks have five. Darnell Gant has six points and game-high six rebounds.
1st/3:47 UW, 23-18. Isaiah Thomas finally got a bit of a breather, but the Ducks closed to within two. Thomas back now.
1st/7:56 UW, 16-9.
1st/11:12 UW, 14-7. However, Oregon is sooooo cold it's hard not to think the Huskies should have built a better cushion by now.
1st/14:41: UW up, 5-4. Cold shooting early, both ways. Both teams providing occasional light full-court pickup. Ross and Wilcox firing threes early -- only Wilcox has hit one.
Tipoff: ... We're under way.
Lineup: UW reports Huskies will go with same lineup as yesterday: Thomas, MBA, Holiday and freshmen Wilcox and Ross.
Huskies also remain in white; Ducks in green.
At about 8:40, Washington and Oregon will play for the right to face them tomorrow at 3:10 p.m.
(For those thinking ahead: Washington and Arizona split their two regular-season meetings. The Huskies won 85-68 in Seattle on Jan. 20, while the Wildcats won 87-86 in Tucson on Feb. 19.)
(And for those thinking even further ahead, UW will hold a Selection Sunday viewing party only if they have the automatic bid that comes from winning this tournament.)
We'll keep this post open during and after the game for updates, notes, quotes and comments.