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Arizona Moves On The Sweet 16 After OT Thriller Against TCU

Mar 20, 2022

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Bennedict Mathurin made a 3-pointer to force overtime and scored six more points in the extra session, and top-seeded Arizona outlasted ninth-seeded TCU 85-80 on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Mathurin finished with 30 points and Christian Koloko scored 28, including a putback dunk that slammed the door on the Horned Frogs with 9 seconds left in OT after Mathurin missed a 3.

Koloko was 12 of 13 from the field, including five dunks, but the rest of the Wildcats were 19 of 55, including 5 of 27 on 3-pointers.

Still, Arizona's two stars did enough for the Wildcats (33-3) to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to fall during this tournament's opening weekend. They advanced to Thursday's South Region semifinals in San Antonio, Texas, where they will face fifth-seeded Houston.

Chuck O'Bannon Jr. had 23 points for TCU (21-13) while Mike Miles Jr. and Eddie Lampkin Jr. had 20 apiece. The Horned Frogs were looking to get to the Sweet 16 for the first time.

TCU still had a chance to win in regulation after Mathurin's big shot, but Miles lost the ball near midcourt. Dalen Terry tried for a game-ending dunk but he didn't get the shot off before time expired.

Mathurin became the sixth Arizona player to score at least 30 points in an NCAA Tournament game.

TCU trailed by eight points with less than eight minutes remaining and had missed 12 straight shots before scoring 12 straight points to go up 69-67 with 3:39 remaining. O'Bannon scored the first five points and Miles had the last four.

The Horned Frogs held Arizona scoreless for 5:09 before Terry's 3 from the right corner tied it at 70.

KRIISA RETURNS

Arizona's Kerr Kriisa had three points in 27 minutes off the bench after missing the past three games.

The sophomore point guard's season looked to be over after he suffered a sprained ankle when he collided with Koloko in the final minute of a Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal matchup against Stanford on March 10.

He missed his first five shots before hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner that began a spurt of nine straight Arizona points to give it a 67-58 advantage.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats are 6-1 as a top seed in the second round since 1985. The only loss was to Wisconsin in 2000.

TCU: The Horned Frogs got their first NCAA Tournament victory in 35 years Friday night, but coach Jamie Dixon's dream of a deep tourney run for his alma mater will have to wait at least another year.

UP NEXT

Arizona will face Houston for the first time since 2009. It will be the teams' first meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

 

 

 

Tommy Lloyd

Bennedict Mathurin

Christian Koloko

San Diego, California, USA
 
Viejas Arena

Arizona Wildcats

Media Conference
 

Arizona - 85, TCU - 80 (OT)

COACH LLOYD: Incredible battle. I knew this was going to be a hard game. I try to tell our guys, TCU obviously plays in the Big 12 and they're battle tested and they're great defensively, and just so hard to keep off the glass. We weren't having a crazy problem getting them to miss the first shot; it was just trying to get defensive rebounds. And so they get a ton of credit. They're really hard to play against.

These two guys were obviously special today. And they pulled us through in moments when it didn't look good. But I know this, I believed the whole time, and I think they did too, the way they were communicating in the huddles, I knew we just needed to hang in there, make a play or two, and we would get this thing over the top.

Q. You dominated the paint, I believe plus-14 in the first half. You seemed to all settle for a little outside, too many outside jumpers in the second half after doing well in the paint game early on in the second. Was there an emphasis on trying to get the ball inside?

COACH LLOYD: I mean, we always want to get the ball inside but they're hard to get it inside on. They do a good job collapsing defensively and making it tough. And they were switching some of their ball-screen coverages and just doing a good job keeping us out of the paint.

I thought some of the 3s we had were good looks. I want these guys to let it rip. And it's one of these days a few didn't go in.

We had had some bad possessions, too, where we had one at the end of the game -- dribbled out, dribbled out -- I thought Ben was going to hit that shot from the left wing. And C-Lo, you missed it just -- perfect for C-Lo to get a tip dunk, so, that was a big time play. So, no.

Q. Christian, what can you say just about the front court battle, especially with Eddie Lampkin?

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I'm gonna give credit to him. He's a big boy. Big boy. It wasn't easy for us to hold him down there. I think we did a pretty good job at the end of the game to box him out and get those rebounds. It was really hard. It's not easy. I mean, we won. So that's the most important thing right now.

Q. Bennedict, that last offensive rebound you had you went flying over and kind of flexed. Just explain your emotions of that moment because it was such a ridiculously bananas game. How did you feel in that second?

BENNEDICT MATHURIN: My coaches were getting on me for not getting enough rebounds. I was pretty happy about getting the opposite rebound. I had to show emotions. I play a game that I love most. So I just went out there and got the rebound, made it. And I was emotional.

Q. Christian, can you talk about that last defensive stop you guys had in regulation, where you trapped Miles, just how that play unfolded and what you guys were trying to do there?

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I ain't going to lie. I was scared when Coach asked us (indiscernible) because I knew he was going to try to get at me and try to get a foul. But I think I did a pretty good job just protecting my hip, like Coach always says, protecting my hip. We knew, like, he was going to try to be a hero. And we wanted to trap him. He turned the ball over. That's what we wanted to do and it worked.

Q. You're now 32-0 this year with the lead with five minutes left. What was the message either from the coach or the team in the final minutes in an overtime to get it done?

BENNEDICT MATHURIN: I said to the media earlier, we came all the way from Tucson to San Diego for a reason. We came here to win. So I just want to say that when we come here, we know we have the fans cheering for us and giving us energy just to win the game in general.

Q. Bennedict, you got to see Mike this summer. You played for Canada, him for Team USA. He got you that time. But you got him tonight and you battled a little bit. What do you think of his game and did tonight feel like that Team USA-Canada game this summer?

BENNEDICT MATHURIN: Miles is a good player. He can shoot from mid-range, he can get to the basket. He can shoot 3s. It was not pretty easy -- it was not pretty easy to guard him -- but I would say he's a pretty good player in general. That was basically my revenge against Team USA because we lost a game. And I was -- I'm glad we were able to win the game tonight.

Q. Christian, adversity, you've been with the program for a few years, postseason ban last year. There was adversity. How does your team fight through that and ultimately win?

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: It's simple. It was win or go home. Win or go home. We knew we had to battle through adversity. That's not the first time we were down. We knew we've got to keep playing our game. Coach, he trusts us. And he told us we've got to hang in there. I think that's what we did. We didn't panic. We played our game and we came back. Just gotta give credit to my teammates and coaching staff. We have a good plan and we won. So that's amazing.

Q. Bennedict had the dunk which was amazing and the 3-pointer in regulation. Just how he shows up for big events like this?

COACH LLOYD: Ben'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. I mean, I honestly felt really good when he had the ball in his hands there because I knew he was going to shoot a 3. And I want him. I've seen him make that -- the ball in his left hand enough times. Right when he snapped the 3 off to tie it, it was pretty impressive.

Whenever he can cut left and plant on his right foot he can go up and explode on somebody. And I've been on him to get that dunk all year, so I'm glad he finally got one this season.

Q. The other day you mentioned and you're saying, look, we're a physical basketball team, too. How did you feel Arizona matched TCU's physicality and all that?

COACH LLOYD: I thought we were just okay. I thought Lampkin gave us our lunch a little bit. And we haven't had a big guy do that to us all year. For him to get 10 offensive rebounds is incredible. And he played, what, 35 minutes for a guy that big, it's impressive.

I was really impressed with him. And I thought he was the difference today in the game that really put them in position to win.

Q. You were obviously adamant about the fan base before. I saw you very animated during this game at different points. How do you think they showed up today?

COACH LLOYD: They were great today. They were great. Listen, I love the fan base. They're amazing. And my deal is, you know, I mean, we need you. We don't have a huge margin for error. And so I want them to bring extra. I mean, I want our guys to bring extra. I'm trying to get my staff and myself to bring extra. I'm not asking the fans anything we're not asking the team or ourselves to do.

Hey, to do this is hard and it's special. I want them to be participants, not observers.

Q. I asked Christian about adversity. Is there something that you instill in your team about fighting through tough times? If so, what is it?

COACH LLOYD: It's just hang in there. Pick yourself back up. And don't put your head down. On to the next play. You're one play away from going on a run all the time. You don't know when it's going to come. So you just have to stay locked in and ready. I'm proud of this group. I mean, it's been an amazing journey in my first year as a head coach.

And I don't know if I deserve this, but those players deserve it. And I'm so thankful that they get to experience this. Going to a Sweet 16 is special.

The two greatest weeks in college basketball are when you win your round of 32 game leading up to the Sweet 16. And then the best one is you win your Elite Eight game and you prepare for a Final Four.

We took another step today. But I mean, we've got a daunting, daunting task ahead of us. The grit and toughness and the teams on our side of the bracket, it's pretty formidable. So we're going to have to come back and recover a little bit because we play Thursday. It's going to be a quick turnaround.

Q. You touched on it briefly with Lampkin, the offensive rebounds. They had 20 tonight, 10 over the final 7:30 in regulation. How do you make sense of that?

COACH LLOYD: They were back breakers down the end. Listen, offensive rebounding is a staple of their program. And it's ours too. But they're really good at it. Sometimes when you get down, like they did, you get maybe a little desperate and you go harder.

And I'll have to go back. I felt like we didn't have great hits or great blockouts all game. And they do such a good job coming from different angles. And if you get caught in rotation, they go every time. If the ball bounces their way they get it because they're there. I tip my hat to them. That was a pain in the butt to play against.

Q. Can you walk us through the risk/reward of that trap that you called at the end of regulation there? Christian said he was scared.

COACH LLOYD: Christian's got amazing feet. It was a flat trap situation early in the game where he gave up his hips. I'm always on him about that, because I knew -- I had a good idea they were going to put the ball in Miles' hands.

He's going to go left and try to come off a ball screen up top. So we had an agile, mobile group out there. What the heck, 10 seconds to go in the game, let's throw a trap on him and see what happens. And we'll live with it. Because we did a good job getting him to back up on his dribble.

I know there's a lot of speculation, was it a foul, whether he was over and back. I'm not watching the foul, I'm watching him go over and back. I don't know how much time. I saw the ball pop loose. I thought we had it. I thought there was enough time.

I looked up. Dalen was at the top of the key with a second to go. I thought maybe. And so that would have been a cool way to end it. But you know what, there was nothing wrong with that going to over time and having to play another five minutes and find a way.

Q. You still have more work to do, but I'm curious what you're most proud of of this team, what you saw out there. What impressed you the most how they were able to get this done?

COACH LLOYD: These games are hard. And the pressure is immense. And for a bunch of young guys that have never been to an NCAA Tournament with a first-year head coach, for them to hang in there in a game like that, this says a lot about them. I'm most proud of them. That's what I'm most proud of.

Q. What did you think, under three minutes, Dalen, you guys are down by 3, Dalen hit that big 3 to tie it up?

COACH LLOYD: I tell you, how many big 3s has he hit the last five or six games? He has the clutch gene too. He's not scared. I love that kid. Played great today.

I was looking at the stats briefly. It wasn't his best overall shooting finishing tonight but he has five assists, no turnovers, five steals. He impacts the game in a lot of areas. Dalen is a winner. It's hard to get him off the court.

Q. Your thoughts on how Kerr played? He played a lot of minutes. And Azuolas didn't play much in the second half. Your thoughts?

COACH LLOYD: Zu kind of got off to a slow start and missed a couple of finishes. I kind of thought that smaller lineup or that extra big lineup were maybe the way to go. I felt bad for Zu because he's a heck of a player. But some days matchups are tough.

I'm sure he's not happy with me, but we won and we need him Thursday. We need him to be good.

And Kerr, for him to give us 26 minutes -- our trainer, Justin Kokoskie, did an amazing job getting him available to play. That was a real sprained ankle. That was no tweak.

The crazy thing is Kerr goes 1-for-10 from 3. I thought he was going to make one of those last two. I think everybody did. We've seen him do it before. But to have 26 minutes recovering from a sprained ankle, and to have a plus/minus of 24, I think that tells you what he means to our team.