Arizona upset in first round by upstart Buffalo
A nightmare up-and-down season came to a loud thud Thursday in Taco Bell Arena as the Arizona men's basketball team was dismantled by Buffalo, 89-68, to end its season and leave fans wondering what lies ahead.
From the jump, Buffalo was the more aggressive team and capitalized on both the boards and behind the arch, connecting on 15 3-pointers on the night, nine of which came in the second half. It was a recipe befitting an upset, but this one was a blitzkrieg that saw Arizona hit the ground, down for the count.
"They were 15 of 30 from the 3-point line," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "We were 2 for 18. Their guard play, their pressure defense, you know, they really took it to us."
Buffalo wreaked havoc on Arizona on all ends of the court. Not only on the offensive end but the pressure it put on every Arizona player on the defensive end limited the Wildcats effectiveness to just 30 second half points.
Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic had 30 points combined on 13 of 21 shooting, the rest of the team went for 38 points on 16 of 43 including a dismal 2 for 18 mark from three.
"They were 312th in the country in percentage of points from three," Buffalo head coach Nate Oats said. "We wanted to make them shoot a lot of threes. We're fortunate that they shot 2 for 18."
The main spark for Buffalo came in the form of 6'7 guard Jeremy Harris. He drew the assignment of having Ayton guard him. Harris took advantage by hitting multiple threes and driving around Ayton on his way to 14 first half points.
Where Harris left off, guard CJ Massingale picked up, dropping 13 points including three 3-pointers to begin the route of the No. 4 seed Wildcats. Whatever Arizona did, Buffalo had an answer for and then some.
"It really doesn't seem real right now," guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright said. "…Give them credit, they played really well. Did a good job."
Once the daze has worn off, what will be left for Arizona won't be much. Miller already said Rawle Alkins, Allonzo Trier, and Alkins would not be coming back and seniors Ristic, Jackson-Cartwright and Keanu Pinder will be gone. With the prospects of no incoming recruits at the moment and uncertainty if any players will transfer to get away from the FBI mess, the future is not clear.
With ASU and UCLA both losing in the First Four earlier in the week, Arizona's loss gives the Pac-12 no teams in the second round for the first time since 1986.
Despite the loss, Arizona did feature one of the top freshman in school history and Ayton said he plans to finish school and get ready for the NBA.
"When you get someone like him, you want to go all the way, right," Miller said. "When you lose in the first round that's a tough pill to swallow. But he was fantastic, he's one of a kind."
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