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.


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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