LAS VEGAS — When Arizona beat USC 81-67 last month at McKale Center, the Wildcats managed to pull away after being up by only three points with less than 13 minutes remaining.
The Trojans have not forgotten about an opportunity that slipped away.
“We just stopped defending for a little while,” USC forward Chimezie Metu said after the Trojans’ 74-54 win over Oregon in a Pac-12 tournament semifinal game Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
FINAL: USC 74, Oregon 54
Arizona won the other semifinal 78-67 over UCLA, which swept the regular season series from the Trojans.
The Wildcats face the Trojans in the championship game at 8 p.m. Tucson time Saturday.
“It all comes back to defense for us,” Metu added. “(Arizona) went on a little run (last month at McKale) and we got stagnant. They broke it open and they were at home. But we’re on a neutral court (Saturday) and I like our chances.”
Is it really neutral, though?
The fan comparison between Arizona and USC at T-Mobile for the championship will likely include 90 percent cheering for the Wildcats and the other 10 trying to raise their voice over the din for the Trojans.
Here are video interviews of some USC players heading into the game against the Wildcats:
On matchup with Parker Jackson-Cartwright: “He’s crafty so he tries to get under you and pressure the ball. He changes up and is feisty.”
When asked, “How do you deal with a guy like Deandre Ayton?” USC’s Chimezie Metu joked, “S—, I don’t know.”
On Arizona’s fan contingent at T-Mobile Arena: “I’m expecting a big sea of blue and red out there.”