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Arizona basketball: Cats off to Las Vegas as No. 4 seed in Pac-12 tournament

Mark Lyons

Mark Lyons and the Wildcats are taking off for Las Vegas this week. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona is headed to the Pac-12 tournament as the No. 4 seed, facing a possible date against Colorado in the second round.

A rubber match between the teams would be intriguing — Arizona won in Tucson in overtime after The Shot That Did Not Count, and Colorado won the rematch 71-58 — but we’ll deal with that when, and if, the time comes.

Fifth-seeded Colorado plays 12th-seeded Oregon State in the second game Wednesday, starting at 2:36 p.m.

The Cats face the winner on Thursday at 2:36 p.m. from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Arizona gathered some momentum with its 73-58 win over Arizona State on Saturday.

“If we keep our defense like this, I think our momentum can take us pretty far,” said senior Solomon Hill.

Arizona (24-6, 12-6) finished a game behind UCLA in the Pac-12 standings, tied for second with Oregon and Cal. The Wildcats dropped the tiebreakers against each team — having gone 0-1 against both foes — with the Bears grabbing the second seed.

Arizona could face UCLA in the semifinals.

The tourney was played at Staples Center in Los Angeles for the past 11 years, often in front of sparse and lukewarm crowds.

Arizona coach Sean Miller fully endorses the move to Las Vegas.

“It’s really a great thing for the future of our conference,” he said.

“So many wonderful things have happened over the last couple of years that puts our conference in such a great position moving forward. I’ve said it time and aging, there has been a better time to be a part of the Pac-12 Conference than right now, whether you’re a fan, player or coach.

“I believe moving the tournament to Vegas is going to a significant contributor to back up that claim in terms of basketball.”

When conference commissioner Larry Scott was in Tucson for a game a couple of weeks ago, he hinted that Arizona fans have had the greatest response in ticket sales for the tournament, which is being played in Las Vegas for the first time.

The Staples Center, which holds about 19,000 for basketball, was sometimes only a third full for some games of the Pac-12 Tournament.

“Having been in conference tournaments where you have a great crown there, it makes all the difference in the world,” Miller said.

“It’s probably one of the things that caught me off guard coming to Arizona — that lack of fire in the air, so to speak, in L.A. It amazed me that a conference tournament, especially with a conference as well regarded as ours, was so poorly attended.

“I think we’re all looking forward to changing that. The move to Vegas is going to do nothing but help that happen.”

Here is the schedule for the Pac-12 tournament:

Game 1 — No. 8 STANFORD vs. No. 9 ARIZONA STATE, 12:06 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 2 — No. 5 COLORADO vs. No. 12 OREGON STATE, approx. 2:36 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 3 — No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 UTAH, 6:06 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 4 — No. 6 WASHINGTON vs. No. 11 WASHINGTON STATE, approx. 8:36 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)

Game 5 — No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 UCLA, 12:06 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 6 — No. 5/12 vs. No. 4 ARIZONA, approx. 2:36 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 7 — No. 7/10 vs. No. 2 CALIFORNIA, 6:06 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Game 8 — No. 6/11 vs. No. 3 OREGON, approx. 8:38 p.m. PT (ESPNU)

Semifinal 1, 6:06 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks)
Semifinal 2, approx. 8:38 p.m. PT (ESPN)

Championship Game, 8:02 p.m. PT (ESPN)

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