deandre_ayton_wildcatsIt all came down to the last minutes of regulation, but the Arizona Wildcats were finally able to put away the California Golden Bears 66-54 to clinch the outright PAC-12 championship.

A great duel of freshmen took place in the desert as DeAndre Ayton and Justice Sueing were featured early and often in the game.

Sueing capped the regular season of his debut campaign with 17 points and five rebounds, leading the way for the Cal Golden Bears.

He put them in position to pull off the upset late at McHale Center, but ultimately as has so often been the case for the Golden Bears, they ran out of steam in crunch time as they struggled with their scoring.

Ayton, expected to win the PAC-12 Player of the Year award, went 9-of-12 from the floor as he scored 26 points and pulled down 20 rebounds, to finish with his freshman record 21st double-double of the season.

Ayton also broke another freshman school record with 616 points in a season, passing Jerryd Bayless’s 2008 mark of 592.

Ayton, from the Bahamas, will now lead the one-seeded Wildcats to the PAC-12 tournament, which takes place from March 7 to March 10 in Las Vegas.

The postseason looms large for Arizona basketball as they are slated to lose their entire starting five to the NBA next season. If the Wildcats want to make a run not only at the tournament’s crown but at the national championship the time is right now.

As the top seed of the tournament, Arizona will play its first game against the winner of the Colorado vs Arizona State game on March 8 in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, the 12th-seeded Golden Bears will face No. 5 seed Stanford in the first round.



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