If you thought the last “perfect” team in the Pac-12 would be Washington as of Tuesday night, you’re probably lying.
But because the No. 3 Wildcats lost an achingly close game to UNLV on the road 71-67 Tuesday, they were denied their perfect season and the undefeated edge in the Pac-12 heading into conference play.
It may have been most painful for forward Stanley Johnson, who missed a go-ahead layup with 33 seconds left in the game and then turned the ball over as he was driving to the basket with two seconds left and UNLV up just one point.
Johnson had poured in 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds throughout the game, but missed his final four shots.
Arizona’s T.J. McConnell led the ‘Cats in scoring with 14 points and hit a layup in the final minute to bring Arizona within one point, but there was no coming back from Johnson’s final turnover.
The loss closes out non-conference play for Arizona. What did it look like, by the numbers?
When hosting, UNLV leads the series against Arizona 8-1. Overall the Rebels have the edge as well, leading 12-7.
The ‘Cats and the Rebels were locked in the paint, each scoring 34 points.
The teams also gave the ball up 15 times apiece. Johnson was guilty of seven of those, followed by center Kaleb Tarczewski with three.
The loss may have tasted all the more bitter for Arizona since they held the lead for 28 minutes and 45 seconds, while UNLV was only ahead for 7:47 of the game.
The Rebels’ bench came in handier than Arizona’s, outscoring their counterparts 19-6.
UNLV’s Christian Wood led all scorers with 24 points and grabbed and 10 rebounds, followed closely by Rashad Vaughn’s 21 points, five rebounds.
The Rebels surged in the second half, outscoring Arizona 35-26.
Arizona’s loss snaps a 39-game win streak against non-conference opponents, the longest in the nation. The Wildcats will take a holiday break, then head to Tempe to face in-state rival Arizona State on Jan. 4.