Fri, 31 Mar 2023

No. 15 Princeton storms back to shock No. 2 Arizona

Field Level Media
17 Mar 2023, 08:55 GMT+10

Ryan Langborg banked in a driving layup with two minutes to go to give Princeton its first lead and Arizona missed its final seven shots as the 15th-seeded Tigers shocked the No. 2 Wildcats 59-55 in a South region first-round game on Thursday in Sacramento, Calif.

Princeton (22-8) finished on a 9-0 run and overcame a 12-point second-half deficit, posting an upset reminiscent of its 1996 first-round victory over defending champion UCLA. Pac-12 tournament champion Arizona (28-7) bowed out after scoring only four points in the final 8:05 to finish with a season-low point total.

Langborg gave Princeton a 56-55 lead at the 2:03 mark, and the score was still the same when Arizona called timeout with 50.4 seconds left. Azuolas Tubelis missed a shot in the lane, and Princeton's Caden Pierce was fouled with 21.7 seconds left, making both free throws.

The Wildcats' last gasp ended with two missed 3-point attempts before Tosan Evbuomwan sealed the victory with a free throw with 3.0 seconds to go.

Evbuomwan led Princeton with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Tubelis had 22 points, while Oumar Ballo posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Arizona.

Princeton advances to play in Saturday's second round against seventh-seeded Missouri, which beat Utah State 76-65.

After clinging to a 31-30 halftime lead, the Wildcats tightened their defense, which allowed them to turn up the pace of the game for a while. Arizona expanded its advantage to 12 with 11:46 to go, but the Tigers clawed back despite making only 4 of 25 3-pointers for the game.

Princeton played pick-your-poison defense, intent on stopping transition, packing the paint and double-teaming most entry passes. While Tubelis and Ballo still managed to get their numbers, Arizona managed just eight fast-break points and two second-chance points. Arizona's guards were reluctant to shoot and nearly invisible in the half-court game, including a three-point, four-turnover effort from point guard Kerr Kriisa.

Arizona went to its strength early, as Tubelis and Ballo combined to score the team's first 11 points -- and 22 of the first 27 -- as the Wildcats eventually built a 31-22 first-half lead. But Arizona failed to score for almost the final four minutes of the half, while Princeton closed with an 8-0 run to make it 31-30 at the break.

Arizona also lost as a No. 2 seed in 1993 to Santa Clara.

Blake Peters made three 3-pointers to finish with nine points for Princeton. Langborg and Keeshawn Kellman (4-for-4 shooting) each tallied eight.

--Field Level Media

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