No Jet Lag: 'Cats prevail on the road against Huskies
Arizona's Ira Lee (11) pauses while UConn's Mamadou Diarra (21) and David Onuorah (34) reach for a block that isn't there.
Arizona and UConn men’s basketball share many similarities this season. Both historic programs are rebuilding and are led by senior guards and tough head coaches from the East Coast.
The similarities were even more apparent Sunday, as neither team led by more than eight points in a back-and-forth affair that saw the ‘Cats prevail 76-72, despite not making a basket over the final 6:43 of the game.
The Wildcats hit 12 of 13 free throws in the final 2:13 of the game to hold off a final rally from the Huskies and improved to 6-2 on the season.
To open the game, the ‘Cats hit three of their first four shots, but UConn quickly found its footing thanks to backup big man Eric Cobb, who made his first five shots of the half, including a stretch that saw the Huskies rattle off seven straight makes to take a 24-22 lead at the 8:44 mark.
Back-to-back 3s by Dylan Smith gave Arizona its largest lead of the first half at 40-33 with 3:24 remaining, eventually taking a 42-38 lead into halftime. Smith led the ‘Cats with eight points in the first half.
UConn got as close as one in the second half, but every big run was answered by the ‘Cats. Smith made a jumper with 6:43 left to give Arizona a seven-point lead, and then the ‘Cats ran cold. UConn's Alterique Gilbert made it a 64-61 game with 2:38 left, but Arizona was able to salt the game away at the free throw line.
Arizona was led in scoring by Brandon Randolph, with 20 points. Chase Jeter finished with 14 and seven rebounds before fouling out, with Smith and Ryan Luther each scoring 10 points off the bench.
The win was especially impressive for the ‘Cats in their first true road game all season, considering they shot just 3-17 from three-point range and had more turnovers, with 14, than assists, at 12. They were able to offset this by shooting 19-22 from the free throw line and once again getting production from the bench, which had 24 points.
Arizona will be back at home Thursday, when it returns to take on Utah Valley. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.
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