Yes, Deandre Ayton is that good. And USC found out just how good, as the likely number one overall NBA draft pick scored 32 points and pulled down 18 rebounds en route to crown Arizona as back-to-back Pac-12 tournament champions in a 75-61 win over the Trojans.
The Trojans were unable to find a way to stop the Arizona freshman big-man, and foul trouble from juniors Chimezie Metu and Nick Rakocevic didn't help.
"Chimezie and I did our best to contain [Ayton]," Rakocevic said after the game. "But I don't think you can stop a guy like that."
Despite a final score line that represents an Arizona dominated the game, that wasn't the storyline for most the championship bout.
While it was near impossible to stop Ayton, the Trojans did a good job of holding the rest of the Arizona players to under double-digit scoring in the first half.
The first 20 minutes saw a fairly even stat line from Ayton and Rakocevic. Ayton finished the half with 13 points, eight rebounds and three turnovers, while Rackocevic finished with 13 points, five rebounds and one turnover.
Coming off a red-hot semifinal game, sophomore Jonah Mathews posted 11 first half points in the championship game for the Trojans.
But while Ayton went on to score an additional 19 points for a game total of 32, Rakocevic and Mathews were completely scoreless for the second half. Rakocevic didn't even attempt a field goal or free throw in the last 20 minutes of the game.
The Trojans struggled from the free throw line shooting 8-for-16 to the Wildcats 11-for-13, which was one of the differences makers in the game. Overall the Trojans shot 45 percent and just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc.
"We missed a lot of open shots that we should have made, or could have made," USC head coach Andy Enfield said after the game. "That's the difference between the last couple of games we played."
With over 10 minutes left in the game Metu was playing with four fouls and Rakocevic with three, meaning USC had stretches with only one big on Ayton.
Ayton was the star of the game by a long shot, but Arizona teammates Dusan Ristic and Parker Jackson-Cartwright posted 16 and 10 points, respectively.
Even after a loss in the Pac-12 championship game, Enfield was optimistic about his team's overall performance this season. "We have 23 wins, we're the second place team in the regular season, and we're the second place team after the tournament," he said after the game. "We're very proud of our players to come in second in a league like this"
Senior captain Jordan McLaughlin, who ended the game with 12 points and nine assists, said his message for his teammates ahead of the NCAA tournament is to "just stick with it. We know we're a talented team and we know we can go on a run."
The Trojans will find out their NCAA tournament fate tomorrow on Selection Sunday, which kicks off at 3 p.m. PT.