Arizona had to battle Ohio State in a tough one to advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a 73-58 win. Read on to find out who the co-players of the game were, what the key moments were, and more.
Arizona had to battle it out, but eventually came away with a 73-58 win over Ohio State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Co-Players of the Game:
T.J. McConnell – The senior guard carried the team in the first half and early in the second half before Gabe York started heating up. His refuse-to-lose attitude fueled him to 19 points, six assists, six rebounds, and five steals. He made several key buckets when the Wildcats needed him and effectively led his team to victory.
Gabe York – The junior played one of the best games of his life, tying a career high with five made three pointers in the win. York caught fire early in the second half, hitting big shot after big shot to break Ohio State out of its zone defense. Without his performance on offense, the game is likely much closer down the stretch.
Ohio State opened up a early 5-2 lead, but Arizona used a quick 7-0 run to take the leas heading into the second media timeout. T.J. McConnell tipped in his own miss before finding Gabe York open in the corner for a three ball. Moments later, McConnell got a steal and drove the length of the court for a layup to cap the run.
Ohio State battled back to lead by as many as six in the first half. Arizona fought in the paint to earn back the points, using a 6-0 run to end the half with the one point lead.
Both teams traded shots to open the second half, but Gabe York quickly ended that, hitting back-to-back three pointers to put the Wildcats up 39-34. On the next possession, Stanley Johnson stole a pass and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with a huge flush to put the lead to seven and force an Ohio State timeout.
With just over ten minutes left in the game, York his his fifth long ball, putting the Wildcats ahead 52-39. It was Arizona's largest lead of the game up to that point and gave the Wildcats the momentum needed for the rest of the game.
Ohio State looked to answer, scoring five straight points. Arizona immediately slammed the door on that idea with Elliott Pitts draining a three ball and Hollis-Jefferson throwing down a slam on a fast break to put the lead back up to 13.
With four minutes remaining in the game, Arizona put the final nails in Ohio State's coffin. York, Hollis-Jefferson, and Johnson each made two free throws without the Buckeyes scoring and the Wildcats took a commanding 69-50 lead that it would not give up.
Stats of the Night:
18 - Arizona completely dominated the glass in the win, but did a majority of the damage on the offensive boards. Arizona pulled down 18 offensive rebounds in the game, which led to the Wildcats scoring 12 second chance points. For the game, Arizona outrebounded Ohio State 43-26.
Survive and advance. It wasn't the prettiest game and it wasn't the best first half of defense, but the Wildcats found a way to turn it around in the final 20 minutes of the game.
At this point, it doesn't matter whether Stanley Johnson goes for 25 points or if Gabe York hits every three pointer he shoots. Arizona will take whatever production it can get because any production is good for the Wildcats and their chances to move on and play one more game. Tonight was York's night. Next week, it may be Johnson or Kaleb Tarczewski. Survive and advance.
Arizona did what most teams have had trouble with all season long, which is stop D'Angelo Russell. A collective of T.J. McConnell, Elliott Pitts, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson held Russell to just nine points on 3-19 shooting. It was a total defensive effort that completely clamped down in the second half. He had just one made field goal after halftime and missed all five of his three point attempts.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"We've weathered a couple of storms," Miller said. "I think we've learned in this region, this tournament, a couple things, this week leading to L.A., that we have to make sure we're sharp and ready to go. Now that we have two more games on a neutral court, I think it becomes easier to go out there and be yourself as an individual player."
"When you play zone, it's hard to block out," McConnell said. "Our bigs, when they do a great job of rebounding, especially on the offensive end, we're a very tough team to beat. I don't think Brandon and Kaleb and Rondae and even Stanley get enough credit how hard they work on the offensive end getting rebounds. I think that was a big reason we won tonight."