No. 14 Arizona Wildcats beat Wake Forest for Wooden Legacy title
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Dylan Smith scored 20 points, Chase Jeter added 17 and 14th-ranked Arizona beat Wake Forest 73-66 in the Wooden Legacy championship game on Sunday night.
It was Arizona’s first early season tournament title since 2014, when it won the Maui Invitational.
The Wildcats (9-0) led most of the game with their largest advantage being 56-41 8 minutes into the second half. The Demon Deacons (5-3) had a 14-4 run to get within 68-64 with 43 seconds remaining but could not draw closer. Arizona closed the game making five of its last six free throws.
Arizona shot a season-low 43.1% from the field (25 of 58) but had a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint.
Olivier Sarr led Wake with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Brandon Childress scored 19. The Demon Deacons shot 32.2% from the field (19 of 59) but were 23 of 26 from the foul line.
Arizona was out in front for the first 6 minutes before Wake Forest scored 10 straight points to take a 23-16 lead with 11:23 remaining in the first half. The Demon Deacons’ lead was short-lived as the Wildcats went on a 14-0 run. Max Hazzard, a graduate transfer from nearby UC-Irvine, started the rally with two straight 3-pointers.
Arizona extended its lead to 37-27 with 3 minutes left before Wake scored six of the last eight points in the half to cut it to 39-33 at halftime.
Arizona’s Nico Mannion was named the tournament’s MVP. Smith, Jeter and Sarr joined Penn’s AJ Brodeur on the all-tournament team.
Arizona: This is the fourth time in Sean Miller’s 11 seasons that the Wildcats have been unbeaten in their first nine games. The last time was 2014-15, when they won their first 12 games.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were playing in the final of a November/December tournament for the first time since 2008, when they won the 76 Classic in Anaheim. That tournament would merge with the Wooden Legacy starting in 2013.
Wake Forest: At Penn State on Wednesday.
Arizona: At Baylor on Saturday.