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Arizona overcomes Xavier’s upset bid, Elite Eight rematch with Wisconsin awaits: By the Numbers

Despite a back and forth affair for most of the game, the No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats keep marching on after defeating No. 6 seed Xavier 68-60 in Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup in Los Angeles.

Now on to the Elite Eight, the ‘Cats will have an opportunity to avenge last season’s 64-63 overtime loss in the NCAA Tournament to Wisconsin, which coincidentally enough also came in the Elite Eight.

Thursday’s contest wasn’t without its tense moments for fans of the Cardinal and Navy, however. Knotted at 28 a piece at halftime, Arizona would be pushed and challenged by Xavier deep in to the second half, leaving ‘Cats head coach Sean Miller a bit exasperated following the win.

The game also wasn’t without it’s fair share of heart-stopping moments on the injury front, as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will likely require some quality time in an ice bath between now and the showdown with the Badgers.

Miller, Hollis-Jefferson and company will have little time to recuperate and celebrate before Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin, though in a survive and advance format, rest is for the vanquished.

Below we examine Arizona’s Sweet Sixteen victory, by the numbers.


Heading into Thursday night’s game, Arizona entered halftime tied or trailing only five times this season, sporting an impressive 4-1 record in those contests. Tied at 28 at halftime versus Xavier, the ‘Cats found a way in the second half to bump their record to 5-1.


The Wildcats shooting stroke betrayed them in the first half, as Arizona shot 12-of-32 from the field before heading into halftime with the score tied. Conversely, the Musketeers converted on 46.4 percent of their shot attempts and controlled the paint, shooting 61.9 percent.


Speaking of the paint, the Musketeers nearly doubled up the Wildcats down low, outscoring Arizona 34-18 for the game. Though Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook is a talented player, Arizona’s frontline must perform better on both ends of the floor if they hope to knock off Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and the Wisconsin Badgers.


There’s no question he’s had more efficient nights on the floor, but sometimes it’s better to win ugly than not at all, as T.J. McConnell’s 17 points helped lead Arizona to victory. McConnell would also chip in seven rebounds, five assists and go 4-of-4 from the foul line, but his 2-of-7 shooting effort in the first half to go along with three turnovers was no doubt concerning for ‘Cats fans.


Over the final minutes of the game, Arizona’s vaunted defense put the clamps on Xavier’s spirited effort on offense, limiting the Musketeers to 1-of-9 shooting from the field, helping spark the Wildcats’ strong finish.


The inverse of the ‘Cats stingy defensive effort over the final nine minutes of the contest was the 19-7 run they used to close out Xavier. McConnell and Kaleb Tarcezwski were particularly instrumental over this stretch, chipping in seven and six points, respectively.