Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats’ mettle put to test after double-overtime loss at ASU

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PAC-12 STANDINGS
MN-Magic number to win regular-season title
z-Eliminated from regular-season title contention

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Arizona guard T.J. McConnell’s shot with six seconds left was blocked by the Pac-12 shot-block leader Jordan Bachynski, resulting in a 69-66 double-overtime victory for ASU at Tempe.

The second-ranked Arizona Wildcats could not overcome their cold shooting from the floor (35.9 percent) and the free-throw line (16 of 30) as they succumbed to an ASU team that was trying for a historic victory at Wells Fargo Arena.

ASU’s victory in front of a capacity crowd, which reportedly included about 30 percent Arizona fans, was one for its history books. It was ASU’s first win over a Top 5 team since Feb. 20, 1992, when the fifth-ranked Wildcats lost to ASU 77-74.

It was also the Sun Devils’ first home victory over a team at least ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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McConnell led the Wildcats (23-2 overall, 10-2 in the Pac-12) with 17 points and appeared to have an open shot in the lane until Bachynski stepped in front of him and swatted the ball away. Jahii Carson grabbed the loose ball and raced downcourt with a thunderous dunk with .07 seconds remaining.

The crowd and ASU’s bench and assistant coaches rushed the court after the officials made a dead-ball call to have Arizona inbound the ball. Randy McCall, the lead referee, explained to ESPN announcers Dave Pasch and Bill Walton that a technical foul was not called on the crowd because the ball was ruled dead.

No explanation was given why Carson was not called for a technical foul although he hung on the rim.

Nick Johnson’s 30-foot shot missed off the front-end of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

Arizona next travels to Utah and Colorado, the most difficult road swing in the Pac-12, other than Tucson and Tempe.

The Wildcats’ magic number to clinch the regular-season Pac-12 title remains at 5. They play four of their last six on the road against teams that are 51-7 at home — Utah, Colorado, Oregon State and Oregon.

Arizona has lost two straight road games without injured Brandon Ashley out for most of the game. He played only the first two minutes at Cal. The Golden Bears won on a last-second shot by Justin Cobbs. ASU prevailed in double-overtime thanks to eight of Jermaine Marshall’s 29 points in the period.

Despite the Wildcats’ ongoing deficiencies at the free-throw line, cold shooting from the field and lack of production from the bench — no scoring registered tonight — Arizona is this close to being undefeated.

Aaron Gordon shot an airball in the lane in the last seconds in regulation. Johnson, who continued his cold shooting, making only 5 of 20 shots from the field and 1 of 6 from three-point range, missed a jumper at the end of the first overtime.

Unlike games earlier this season, Arizona was unable to close the door.

An incensed Sean Miller opened the postgame press conference with “What do you got?” The interview session lasted only about three minutes. No Arizona players were allowed to comment.

If the Wildcats take their coach’s approach — angered over dismayed — they will continue to be dangerous.


WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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