Arizona has struggled playing rival ASU on the road in Tempe, losing the previous two games there coming down to the wire.
In last season’s game between these two rivals, Arizona blew a 22-point lead in a tough loss. During Thursday night’s game, the Wildcats held an 11-point lead and watched the Sun Devils fight their way back, but this time, Sean Miller‘s team found a way to win an 84-82 game thanks to a 7-0 run in the last 2:22. Freshman Azuolas Tubelis hit the game-winning buzzer-beater cleaning up an airball 3-point attempt by James Akinjo.
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Tubelis struggled for most of the game and couldn’t find the bottom of the net in the first half finishing with zero points, going 0-for-4 from the field with three rebounds. He ended the game with eight points going 4-for-8 with seven rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes.
Arizona (11-3, 5-3 Pac-12) got another efficient game out of Akinjo, who scored a team-high 24 points going 8-for-17 from the field while going 3-for-3 from the foul line. He also had three assists in his 37 minutes.
The Wildcats found their stroke from beyond the arc, going 11-for-20 for the game. Freshman Dalen Terry seemed to hit his 3-pointers when the team needed it the most and went 3-for-3 from deep. Terry had 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting while collecting four rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes.
Here are Akinjo and Tubelis talking about the game-winning shot and what it is like to play in games that come down to the final possession:
Both teams statistically were evenly matched, and it showed in the final score of the game. Still, Arizona went 15-for-17 from the free-throw line while ASU shot 72 percent from there. The Wildcats also won the battle in the paint, outscoring the Sun Devils 32-24.
Senior guard Terrell Brown Jr., known for his passing with 44 assists coming into the game, stepped up when his team needed him the most. Brown ended the game with 14 points, five rebounds, and six assists while going 7-for-8 from the free-throw line during critical situations.
Here’s Miller talking about Tubelis’ game-winning shot and giving insight on how his team walked away with the narrow win in Tempe:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.