Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. Michigan

Arizona used a big comeback to pull out the 72-70 victory over Michigan on Saturday. Read on to find out how it happened, the players of the game, and more.

Arizona started slow, but played a tough second half and fought back to take the lead late. The Wildcats pulled it out and came away with the 72-70 victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Co-Players of the Game:

Brandon Ashley – Ashley started the game a little slow, but picked it up in the second half. He finished with a team-high 18 points, making eight of his sixteen shots. He missed an early three-pointer, but stayed inside the arc for all of his shots after that. The sophomore also grabbed six rebounds and was a perfect 2-2 from the free throw line. His play was one of the differences in the game.

Aaron Gordon – The freshman was another one of the most important players on the court on Saturday. Gordon had 14 points, most of which came down the stretch. He also grabbed five rebounds, but his most important stat was his two assists. Both came during a stretch when Arizona was trying to get back into the game and led to easy baskets for the Wildcats.

Key Moments:

  • Arizona had fallen behind early and Michigan used a 10-2 run to jump out to a 15-9 lead midway through the first half. Nick Johnson stopped the bleeding for the Wildcats with a three-pointer out of a timeout. However, Spike Albrecht answered with a trey of his own on the other end of the court, putting the score at 18-12.

  • As the Wildcats were fighting back into the game, the Wolverines pushed back ahead. Arizona had cut the lead to one, Michigan used back-to-back-three pointers from Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas to put the deficit back to seven.

  • Heading into halftime, Arizona had a chance to cut a six-point lead down, but instead a blocked shot gave Michigan the ball back and Robinson continued his perfection in the first half, nailing a three-pointer as the clock wound down, making him 7-7 from the field. The Wolverines led 37-28 heading into the halftime.

  • Arizona came out fired up in the second half. With Michigan holding its biggest lead of the night, Arizona used back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to seven, before Caris LeVert pushed it back to nine. That was when Arizona took off. T.J. McConnell came down the court, took a screen and hit a three-pointer, igniting a 7-0 run that cut the lead to just two.

  • The second half stayed moderately close with Michigan keeping the lead around six for a majority of the latter period. That changed with just over four minutes left in the game.

    Michigan led by eight before Aaron Gordon scored on a dunk and Brandon Ashley scored four straight points to cut the lead to just two. Stauskas scored on the next possession, but Gordon answered with his another layup to put it back at two.

  • Arizona battled all the way back and took the lead late in the game. A missed shot on the Michigan end of the floor gave Arizona a chance to tie the game. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson took the ball on the break and went straight to the hoop. He made the layup and forced a foul. He hit the ensuing layup and the Wildcats took the lead 63-62.

  • After both teams traded baskets for multiple possessions, Arizona finally went ahead for good with 24 seconds remaining in the game. A miss by Stauskas at the other end allowed Johnson to put Arizona up by three with just nine seconds to go.

    Stats of the Night:

    7:17: Arizona was trailing by eight with eight minutes to go in the game. Aaron Gordon missed a three-pointer and Glenn Robinson III grabbed the rebound with 7:17 left on the clock. Michigan did not grab another defensive rebound until Gabe York missed his free throw with 1.4 seconds remaining. During that time, Arizona scored on ten straight possessions.

    General Thoughts: Arizona had no business winning this game if you just watched the first half. In fact, if you turned the game off after Mitch McGary got an easy dunk to start the second half, you probably watched all of Arizona's bad basketball for the game.

    After T.J. McConnell's three-pointer, the Wildcats really started to step their game up. Save for a few bad possessions, Arizona played as flawless a second half as you could ask for. The Wildcats only had three turnovers in the period, shot 55-percent from the field, and hit ten of their eleven free throws.

    Down the stretch, Arizona really pulled out all the stops. The team as a whole seemed to not be able to miss. Ashley put up a few shots that seemingly had no chance to go in, but still dropped. Gordon made two great passes and put himself in great positions to get the ball and make plays.

    This game was one that could arguably be labeled as one that Arizona should have lost, given all the factors involved. Michigan was even favored heading into the game, despite the Wildcats being ranked #1 in the country. With the big win, it shows that Arizona's potential for this season is real and that this team could be special.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "This was as quality of a win as you can have, in my opinion, in the country," Miller said. "I felt like today -- we're going to be better if we won, we're going to be better if we lost."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "We didn't feel going in at half that we were down nine," Johnson said. "We felt good about ourselves. We had a few easy shots that we didn't finish."

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