Arizona and San Diego St. Advance to MIT Final
By Rodney S. yap
The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats answered their first big challenge of the season Tuesday, holding off Kansas State and advancing to the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Kansas State did not make things easy, rallying from a nine-point second-half deficit before succumbing to the unbeaten Wildcats 72-68 Tuesday in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.
“We’re very, very proud of tonight’s win,” coach Sean Miller said. “We feel like we beat a great team, and that’s why you come to Maui, to challenge yourself like we did.”
Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski scored 18 points and Gabe York added 15 as the Wildcats shot 53 percent from the field to improve to 5-0. Kansas State fell to 3-2.
“Kaleb Tarczewski hasn’t been scoring, but tonight was his night. We got the ball to him and he delivered.”
The Wildcats will play No. 15 San Diego State in today’s Maui Invitational Championship game at 5 p.m.
Trey Kell scored 15 points to lead the Aztecs over Pittsburgh 74-57 in the late semifinal Tuesday night.
The Aztecs built a 15-point lead by halftime and had their way inside against the Panthers, shooting 58 percent from the floor to set up a marquee matchup against Arizona.
Arizona has won the past three meetings, including a thriller in Honolulu two years ago and in the NCAA tournament last season.
“This will be my fourth time playing them; I’m 0-3 so far and I just want to be able to get a win,” said San Diego State junior forward Winston Shepard, who had 13 points. “We’re just two great teams in a lot of the same tournaments, I guess.”
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson helped Arizona close out Kansas State by hitting two free throws with 4 seconds left.
Freshman forward Stanley Johnson spent most of the second half in foul trouble, but came up with some of the biggest plays down the stretch. He had a key steal and hit three free throws in the closing seconds, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“I think as a freshman, this was my first game where it was like super intense. You kind of feel it from the start of the game,” Stanley said.
Marcus Foster scored 23 points and went 6 for 9 from 3-point range for Kansas State.
“There isn’t a lot of difference between our teams,” Miller said. “I say that because I feel like we left with a hard-fought victory over an excellent pass ball team. . . . On our end, tonight was the first game this season where comprehensively we knew we were in a high-level game.”
“It kind of shows how resilient this team is,” said Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell, who had seven points and six assists. “The score was going back and forth, and you weren’t really sure which way the score was going to go. I mean, we just played hard.”
So did Kansas State, answering the bell every time Arizona tried to pull away, mainly behind Foster.
He held the Wildcats together against Purdue and had 23 points against Arizona, going 6 for 9 from 3-point range.
Kansas State is headed to the third-place game Wednesday against Pittsburgh, beginning at 2:30 p.m., but had no reason to be down after keeping up with the No. 3 team in the country.
“I told them if we play like yesterday and today, we’re going to beat a lot of good teams,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said.
In early action Tuesday, Brigham Young beat Chaminade 121-85 to advance to the fifth-place game.
Cougars’ guard Chase Fischer made 10 of 13 3-pointers, including 9-for-10 in the first half, to break Jimmer Fredette’s school record of nine made 3s in a game. Fischer’s 10 made 3s ties the Maui Invitational single-game record set by Notre Dame’s Kyle McAlarney in 2008 and tied by Chaminade’s Christophe Varidel last season.
“I couldn’t be more pleased or really impressed with our guys today,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “We fought hard and we competed well last night and didn’t come up with the win. With a quick turnaround, you wonder what you’re going to get from your guys. I was just really impressed with how focused they were, how dialed in they were.
“We were really good offensively and got better as the game went on defensively. But I’ve been through some pretty tough turnarounds with a lot of teams, and this one was maybe as impressive as I’ve seen. I’m happy for our guys, happy for our fans that we got a win and look forward to a big game tomorrow.”
BYU (4-1) plays Purdue (4-1) Wednesday at noon, while Chaminade (2-2) plays Missouri (2-3) at 9:30 a.m. for seventh place.
Purdue beat Missouri 82-61 in the first game of the day.
Rapheal Davis scored 22 points for Purdue (4-1) against the young Tigers while building a 25-point halftime lead.
The Boilermakers struggled at times during the second half, but were so far in front that it didn’t matter.
Missouri (2-3) had no answer for Purdue’s physical, aggressive defense in the first half while falling into a big hole. The Tigers played better over the game’s final 10 minutes, but had no chance of finishing off the comeback from a deficit that climbed to 34 points in the second half.
Johnathan Williams III had 14 points and Keith Shamburger added 11 for Missouri.