On a day when Arizona’s future NBA players were having trouble finishing, it was T.J. McConnell and Gabe York who led the Wildcats to a 73-58 win. McConnell played close to a flawless game finishing with 19 points, six assists, six rebounds, five steals and only one turnover. York helped Arizona pull away with four second half three-pointers and finished with 19 points on 5-of-9 long distance shooting.
Arizona dominated the boards with a +17 advantage including a +11 advantage on the offensive boards. The Wildcats defense hounded future top-5 NBA draft pick D’Angelo Russell into a 3-of-19 shooting performance. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson shot a combined 4-of-24 in the game but the Wildcats rode the solid performances from McConnell and York to the relatively easy win.
Arizona and Ohio State battled through a defensive-themed first half with the Wildcats taking a 26-25 lead into the break. Neither team shot well and both teams looked tense. If it weren’t for McConnell, Arizona would be been behind as he scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and came up with four steals. He had only two assists as the Wildcats couldn’t connect inside off his passes and committed no turnovers. Arizona players other than McConnell shot 25 percent in the half (6-of-24).
Ohio State couldn’t score either shooting 37 percent. Star guard Russell was only 2-of-11 at the break. Even so, he impressed with his crisp passes, assisting on five of the Buckeyes ten baskets.
Things opened up in the second half. McConnell hit a three-pointer, then Gabe York hit back-to-back three’s to put the Wildcats up by seven. Arizona’s lead expanded into double-digits as they pulled away and gave the Pac-12 their sixth straight NCAA tournament victory.
In the nightcap Utah pulled away late in the game to top Georgetown 75-64. Brandon Taylor led the Utes with 14 points including four important second half three-pointers. Utah shot an efficient 58 percent on the game including 8-of-14 (57 percent) on three-pointers.
Four Utes scored in double-figures with Delon Wright (12), Jakob Poeltl (12), Dakarai Tucker (11) and Jordan Loveridge (11) aiding the win. 7-foot backup center Dalllin Bachynski was the unsung hero for Utah, coming off the bench as Poeltl fought foul trouble. Bachynski scored nine points and pulled down eight rebounds in 22 minutes of action. L.J. Peak led the Hoyas with 18 points, hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers.
Arizona now heads to Los Angeles for a Sweet Sixteen matchup with Xavier while Utah will face the winner of Duke-San Diego State in Houston.
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