Arizona men's basketball loses to Clemson in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament

Arizona men’s basketball loses to Clemson in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament

An more year, an additional serving of Arizona’s possible future.
The second-seeded Wildcats put themselves in a difficult situation early on against No. 6 Clemson, made some progress, but ultimately gave the Tigers the upper hand in a 77-72 defeat on Thursday night in Los Angeles during the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

With a horrendous shooting performance—going just 5 of 28 from 3-point range—and top scorer Caleb Love missing all nine of his attempts in a 5-of-18 game from the field, the UA (27-9) dropped its third consecutive Sweet 16 berth. With only three players scoring in double figures and a losing record when fewer than four players reached 10 points, the Wildcats shot 37.3 percent.
Jaden Bradley led the UA with 18 points off the bench, including 16 in the second half. Love and Oumar Ballo each contributed 15 points and 15 rebounds. Pelle Larsson, Keshad Johnson, and Kylan Boswell, the starters, combined to shoot 6 of 23 from the field.
After trailing 39–31 at the half, Arizona made five of its six shots and forced three turnovers from Clemson to go on a 12–4 run that tied the score at 43. A Love layup gave the Wildcats their first lead at 46-45, startling the Tigers.
Jack Clark Jr.’s three-pointer gave them the lead back, and they quickly increased it to 53-48. After two consecutive trips to the line by Bradley, the UA chipped away, tying the score at 56 with 9:55 left. However, Clemson responded with five straight, including a banked-in three by Ian Schieffelin.
After a scorching start, Arizona was only scoring at the line; the Wildcats missed eighteen of their nineteenth attempts. With 4:21 remaining, Johnson’s 3-pointer ended the UA’s drought of field goals and brought the team within 65-61, but Clemson’s lead was still just seven.
With 3:26 left, Bradley’s steal-based dunk made the score 66-63. Clemson, matching the UA’s cold shooting, had now missed seven straight shots. With 2:47 remaining, Larsson attempted a three-pointer to level the score, but it was missed. PJ Hall then hit two free throws, and the teams exchanged baskets inside. With one minute remaining, the Tigers made it 72-67 thanks to a back-cut goal after a timeout.
With 49.4 seconds remaining, Bradley hit his second three-pointer to make it 72-70, but Chase Hunter, who drove and attempted a reversal after being fouled, gave Clemson one more chance. After Love scored on a run, the Wildcats mishandled the inbounds play, allowing Dillon Hunter to come free for the game-winning basket. He then converted the free throw to bring the score back to five.
Arizona missed its first six attempts and turned the ball over three times before scoring, making just about the worst conceivable start. With 11:18 remaining in the first half, Clemson took advantage to take a double-digit lead. After a mistake by UA, a Chauncey Wiggins three-pointer increased it to 13, forcing Tommy Lloyd to call a timeout with the score at 27-14 with 7:19 remaining in the half.
For a little while, the Wildcats were on a roll, going on a 6-0 run by driving and drawing fouls. However, with 5:10 left, the Tigers scored twice in a row to tie the game at 11. Another UA drive, capped by a pair of Ballo dunks, trimmed the margin to six in the final minute before Clemson scored its first foul throws of the game and Love airballed a deep 3 as the half expired.

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