Sweet 16 scores: Arizona tops San Diego State to advance to the Elite Eight

Jeff Gross

Nick Johnson scored all 15 of his points in the final three minutes.

The No. 1 seed Arizona Wildcats showed its mettle, fighting through foul trouble and a tough night from its best player to defeat the No. 4 seed San Diego State Aztecs 70-64.

San Diego State held Pac-12 Player of the Year scoreless in the first half, and it took until 2:46 remaining in the game for him to get his first points: a layup coming off of a pass from T.J. McConnell while McConnell was lying on the ground after diving for a ball he had poked loose. Johnson very nearly had a buzzer-beating runner to end the first half from 30-plus-feet out, but the clock expired with the ball still on his fingertips, and SDSU went into the half with a 32-28 lead.

Once Johnson finally did see the ball go through the net, his offense changed. He hit his next shot, a deep three and continued to score the next 13 points for the Wildcats, including eight free throws. He finished with eight rebounds and three assists in the win.

Pac-12 freshman of the year Aaron Gordon has received comparisons to former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin with his athleticism and dunking prowess. He displayed why with this alley-oop dunk on the other end of this lob from Gabe York.

Gordonkaboom_medium

Gordon caught that BEHIND HIS HEAD. The athleticism on display by Arizona is what made them one of the most exciting teams in the country. Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson are all capable of making the highlight reel from above the rim.

Sean Miller had to deal with two key players in foul trouble for a lot of the night, with Kaleb Tarczewski picking up his fourth foul minutes into the second half, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson fouling out with a shade under five minutes left in the game.

SDSU didn't go down without a fight. The Aztecs hit two threes with time winding down, each of them following offensive rebounds from Josh Davis, who finished with 14 rebounds. A drive by Xavier Thames (not this drive) and three free throws kept the Aztecs within striking distance, but Johnson didn't miss a free throw down the stretch and kept Arizona in front. Thames finished with 25 points.

Arizona will play No. 2 seed Wisconsin Sunday in the Elite Eight.

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