By: Jacob Cavanah
ANAHEIM, Calif. – After 40 minutes of neck-to-neck basketball, the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats beat the No. 4 San Diego State Aztecs 70-64 to advance to the Elite 8 for the second time under head coach Sean Miller.
The No. 1 Wildcats slow first half start had the No. 4 San Diego State Aztecs on top at the midway point. At one points the Aztecs held the Wildcats scoreless for over three minutes and outrebounded them 24-15.
Guard Nick Johnson went scoreless for an entire half, but the Wildcats were only down four going into the half after guard T.J. McConnell's lay up with just under 40 seconds left to make it 32-28.
At the start of the second half it seemed as if the Aztecs were going to pull off the victory. They forced the Wildcats into some bad plays, like McConnell's horrible alley-oop attempt to Gordon.
Despite Johnson's first bucket coming with 2:45 left in the contest, Arizona was able to get it going.
It was plays like McConnell's dish to forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson that led to slam dunk, and guard Gabe York's steal that resulted in a beautiful alley-oop to Gordon that hyped up the team and Arizona's fans in the crowd.
Hollis-Jefferson came off of the bench with intensity. He was playing aggressive all game on both sides of the floor until he fouled out with 4:42 left.
As the second half went on the Wildcats started to pull it together but weren't able to take the lead until McConnell's high off the glass lay up put them up 50-49. From that point on they didn't look back.
Johnson was cold all game but when he got it going when it mattered. His first 2 points put them up 56-51 and then he nailed a deep three-pointer to go up 59-51. He ended up with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Part of what kept the Wildcats alive this game was something they've been struggling with all season, free throw shooting. Johnson was 10/10 and the team shot 76 percent from the line.
This Elite 8 appearance is historic. It's the first time brothers have coached their teams to the Elite 8. Sean Miller's younger brother, Archie Miller, is the head coach of the No .11 Dayton Flyers.
The Flyers beat the No. 10 Stanford Cardinals 82-72 on Thursday. Their next game is against the No. 1 Florida Gators.
The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers are the Wildcats Elite 8 match up. They took care of the No. 6 Baylor Golden Bears on Thursday, 69-52.
The 1 and 2 seeds will face off at 5:49 pm MST Saturday.