The Arizona Wildcats are off to San Jose.
In a hotly-contested round of 32 game, Arizona prevailed over the Saint Mary’s Gaels with a nice win by a score of 69-60.
After falling behind by as much as 10 early in the first half, Arizona found its composure and its legs, getting within one at halftime. Saint Mary’s was still leading when the teams went to the locker room, but it was just 30-29 thanks to a 13-5 UA run, and all of the momentum was on the Wildcats’ side.
Sean Miller said at halftime that the team had lost confidence in the early going, but found it during that late run.
The second half started with Arizona taking its first lead of the game, and then several more leads after that as the teams traded baskets throughout the first ten minutes.
But then Allonzo Trier scored seven straight points after being silent throughout the first 30 minutes of this one. That put Arizona up five at the time, its biggest lead of the night.
From there, the Wildcats were able to lead by about five for the remainder of the game, hanging on for the close victory and the Sweet Sixteen bid.
Here are some other takeaways from this one:
Lauri on Landale
As was expected, Jock Landale had his way with Dusan Ristic down low, scoring ten points and grabbing five rebounds in the first eight minutes of this game.
Then the Wildcats made an adjustment. They put Lauri Markkanen on Landale.
And that shut down the Gaels’ center in a big way.
For the rest of the game, Landale could not get to the basket effectively, with Markkanen either getting the outright block or totally redirecting the big man’s route to the hoop.
What we learned from this one is that Lauri is the better option moving forward to guard a big man down low, which could be an interesting development.
One thing that really stood out was the lack of assists recorded by Arizona in this one. Saint Mary’s obviously had a lot of dimes because of their slow pace of play, but the Wildcats couldn’t get anything going in that category early.
The Wildcats had four. In the entire game. Four. Whatever.
Cruisin to the Charity Stripe
One thing that was a common theme in Arizona victories this year was the free throw advantage, and this particular game was no exception to that rule.
The Wildcats were 19-of-23 at the free throw line compared to SMC’s 5-of-8 mark.
Arizona will play 11-seed Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday in San Jose. The other West Regional game will be Gonzaga and West Virginia.