Arizona was able to beat Stanford on senior day in McKale Center to finish the season undefeated at home. Read on to find out more, including who the player of the game was, what the key moments were, and more.
Arizona beat up on Stanford on senior day in McKale Center 91-69. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Player of the Game:
T.J. McConnell – The senior started out the game slowly, picking up two fouls in the first half, but finished the game as the best player on the floor. McConnell finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and dishing out 11 assists in the winning effort.
In his last game on Lute and Bobbi Olson Court, McConnell also added two rebounds and three steals, pressuring Stanford into multiple turnovers in the second half and allowing Arizona to pull away for good.
Arizona burst out of the gate with some extra momentum. Matt Korcheck scored on the first possession and picked up a block immediately afterwards. Stanley Johnson hit a three pointer and the Wildcats were off to the races, jumping out to an early 10-3 lead.
With just over eight minutes left in the first half, T.J. McConnell picked up his second foul and was forced to the bench. Stanford took advantage, forcing Arizona into back-to-back empty possessions. The Cardinal found ways to score buckets on the other end and quickly cut the lead down to 27-23 in favor of the Wildcats.
It wasn't long until Arizona had a sizable lead once again. Gabe York poured in five points and Kaleb Tarczewski hit a baseline jumper to force a Johnny Dawkins timeout. The Wildcats were on a 10-0 run at that point, pulling ahead 39-27.
The Wildcats continued to pull away with York leading the charge. Just before halftime, Stanford hit a bucket that seemed to be the last of the half, but York took the ball all the way down the court and hit a pull up three-pointer as time expired
The tide of the game turned one final time in Arizona's favor with just over 10 minutes remaining. Stanford's Stefan Nastic was whistled for an offensive foul, his fourth. On the other end of the court, T.J. McConnell found Rondae Jefferson for a massive dunk and the foul. The ensuing free throw put the Wildcats up by 19 and they never looked back.
When all was said and done, after the Wildcats had run through the student section, after McConnell hoisted his framed jersey for all to see, and after Sean Miller was handed the regular season Pac-12 Championship trophy, the nets were cut down. One-by-one, the Wildcats climbed the ladder and snipped away part of the net until Sean Miller clipped the final strands away as conference champions.
Stat of the Night:
0 - 19 seconds into the game, Matt Korcheck scored on a wide open lay up and gave the Wildcats the lead. Those 19 seconds were the only time that the game was tied throughout the day. Arizona's lead never unraveled and the Cardinal did not lead the entire game.
It is never easy to win the regular season conference championship, but Arizona has now done it two years in a row. With the regular season finally at its end, the Wildcats won the conference by three whole games, holding the tie breaker over both teams that ended tied for second place.
Arizona lost just two conference games, one at Oregon State and another at Arizona State. To go 16-2 in the conference slate is a phenomenal feat and the Wildcats pulled it off, playing the best they have all season.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"There's so much emphasis on the NCAA Tournament that you are judged by what round you get to, did you get to a Final Four," Sean Miller said. "I think we all understand that. In the conference you're in, especially a high major conference, when you go through that 18-game gauntlet, when you stand alone at the top, you feel really good. It's hard to do."
"Since I was younger, I've always known that this is where I wanted to be," Matt Korcheck said. "When I started getting offers from other schools, this is where I wanted to be. When that opportunity presented itself there was no other choice. It wasn't even close, regardless of playing time or how much I was going to see the court."