Arizona was able to pull out a win over San Diego State 61-59 to win the Maui Invitational. Read on to find out more about the win, including who the player of the game was, the key moments, and some quotes.
Arizona won the EA Sports Maui Invitational with a 61-59 victory over San Diego State in a closely contested game. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Player of the Game:
Stanley Johnson – The freshman came away with the Maui Invitational MVP, scoring 18 points and just missing out on a double-double with nine rebounds. Arizona does not win the game without Johnson and it is easy to see why. The forward came up with several big plays throughout the night, including a huge block towards the end of the game.
Trailing by five late in the first half, Arizona was plagued with foul trouble, but that didn’t stop the Wildcats from fighting back and taking the lead. The Wildcats used Stanley Johnson’s dominance on the glass to go on an 8-0 run. Arizona was able to take a 32-31 lead into halftime.
With Arizona struggling to score points in the second half, the Wildcats trailed by just one. Both teams traded empty possessions until T.J. McConnell hit a wide open three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 50-48 lead. Both teams traded free throws and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added a dunk for the four-point lead with five minutes to go.
With just seventeen seconds to go in the game, Arizona was leading San Diego State by six when Trey Kell nailed a three-pointer and got fouled by Brandon Ashley. The subsequent free throw was good and Arizona’s lead was just to two.
Arizona’s victory was just about sealed by a giant block from Ashley. Kell drove the lane with seven seconds to go, trailing by four. The junior forward blocked the shot off the glass and the Wildcats were able to survive 61-59.
Stat of the Night:
22 - One of the reasons that the Wildcats were able to come away with the trophy at the end of the game was because Arizona capitalized on the 14 Aztec turnovers throughout the night. The Wildcats scored 22 points off of those turnovers, while allowing San Diego State to only get nine points off turnovers.
I already wrote about Stanley Johnson, but I think that it needs to be said that he is still learning and improving with each game and practice. Johnson is a winner at heart and will continue to win at whatever level he is playing at. When crunch time comes in March, Johnson will be a leader and often times the best player on the court.
Arizona wins against San Diego State in a hard fought game. Stop me when this gets old. The Wildcats have now beaten the Aztecs four times in three seasons and they have just about all came down to the wire. It is hard to tell if Sean Miller just has Steve Fisher’s number or if the Aztecs just can’t get over the hump. Either way, it is clear that Arizona is on the top spot on the West Coast and the Aztecs are just a few steps behind.
This tournament was another example of how deep Arizona is in terms of contributors. In game one, Brandon Ashley stepped up and played well. In game two, it was Kaleb Tarczewski with a monster night. In the Championship, it was Johnson who was the star. Each and every night, there can be a different hero on the team. If one or two players are struggling then the others have the ability to step up. That is the true meaning of scoring depth and Arizona has it.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"We leave here feeling very good about what we accomplished," Miller said. "We have a long way to go, but I feel like our team took the next step, grew up, improved, and that's what happens when you challenge yourself against this type of competition."
"We have a lot of guys who don't like losing here and I'm the same way," Johnson said.