SAN DIEGO — For the first time since the 2016-17 season, the Arizona men's basketball team is going to the Sweet 16. They are now two wins away from their first Final Four appearance since 2000-01.
The Wildcats beat Texas Christian University 85-80 in a crazy game that ended up going to overtime.
"Well, incredible battle, and I knew this was going to be a hard game and I try to tell our guys you know," Lloyd said. "I mean TCU obviously plays in the Big 12 and they're battle tested and they're great defensively and they are so hard to keep off the glass."
Arizona started the contest down 8-0 in the first few minutes, but then we saw a complete takeover by Christian Koloko. He scored 14 points in the first 9 minutes of the game while going 7-7 from the field with an and-one play. With every make his confidence continues to grow.
This allowed the Wildcats to go on a 29-18 run and took their first lead of the game with 6 minutes left in the first half.
Koloko had 18 of Arizona's points in the first half. They struggled to hit the deep ball, ending the half 2-10 from there. They also dominated the glass, seeing Arizona grab 20 rebounds compared to TCU's 16.
Arizona was down by 4 points a little bit into the second half, but after Koloko got going again, they tied the game up.
The Wildcats struggled to shoot the ball from deep, finishing the game 18% (5-27) but were good from the free throw line. They were 72% from three (18-25) with Bennedict Mathurin hitting 11 of them.
Mathurin had one of the best dunks of the year at about the 10 minute mark.
"U of A" chants filled up the arena and it felt like the being in McKale Center.
Koloko finished the game with a 28 point double-double adding 12 rebounds and three blocks to the stat sheet.
This was one of the craziest games of the entire season. Arizona was down by 3 points and Terry came up clutch 3-pointer with over 3 minutes to go in the game.
It continued to stay close for the following few minutes but Arizona was then down by 3 points and had the ball with 15 seconds left. Who would take the last shot?
The Wildcats best player in Mathurin hit a deep 3-pointer to tie the game and sending it to overtime.
Arizona outscored TCU 10-5 in overtime. Mathurin continued to dominate and completed an and-one to give the Wildcats a firm lead in the last minute of action.
"Benn's not afraid of the moment and he's a special player who has an ability to rise it up another level when needed and he has that clutch gene" Lloyd said.
Mathurin finished the game with 30 points, his season high, while having eight rebounds and four assists. Him and Koloko combined for 58 points to lead this team to a victory in overtime.
"You know, these two guys (Mathurin and Koloko) were obviously special today and they pulled us through in moments when it didn't look good," Lloyd said. "I know this, I believed the whole time and and I think they did too."
The fanbase showed out in great spirits during this game and helped the Wildcats fight through a difficult contest.
"They were great today, I love the fanbase they are amazing," Lloyd said. "To do this Is hard and special and I want them to be participants not observers."
The Wildcats move to 33-2 overall on the season and 2-0 in games decided in overtime. When scoring at least 80 points this season, this Arizona team is 28-0 against their opponents.
"I'm proud of this group, it's been an amazing journey in my first year as a head coach and, you know, I don't know if I deserve this, but those players deserve it are and and I'm so thankful that they get to experience this" Lloyd said.
Arizona will face No.5 seed University of Houston on Thursday, March 24, at 6:59 p.m. PST in the Sweet 16 of the 2022 March Madness Tournament.
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