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December 14, 2013

No. 1 Arizona overcomes 11-point deficit, tops Michigan



Top-ranked Arizona overcame an 11-point deficit and hit seven free throws in the final 24 seconds to defeat Michigan 72-70 on Saturday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Wildcats (11-0) shot 55.2 percent in the second half and were led by Brandon Ashley's 18 points while three others chipped in 14, including Nick Johnson - whose six free throws in the final minute helped seal the victory. Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski also added 14 and, along with Ashley, combined to shoot 20 of 37 from the field.

The Wildcats also controlled the boards, 37-24, led by Tarczewski's nine.

Facing an eight-point deficit, UA made another push to pull within 58-56 after a Gordon feed for an Ashley dunk with 4:29 remaining. Then finally, after cutting the deficit down to three or less on seven different occasions, a Gordon layup and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson three-point play put the Wildcats on top 63-62 - their first lead since the 15:05 mark of the opening half.

The lead changed hands two more times before Johnson helped ice the game. Trailing 69-66, Spike Albrecht split a pair of free throws after UA elected to foul with 6.7 seconds left.

Albrecht's 3-pointer with 2 seconds left made it 71-70 and Gabe York split a pair to finish off the win for Arizona.

Michigan (6-4), which made just two 3-pointers in the second half after making six heading into the break, was paced by Glenn Robinson III's 20 points. He was limited to just four in the second half.

Caris Levert added 15 for the Wolverines, who received just 14 from leading scorer Nik Stauskas on 4-of-11 shooting.

Trailing 39-28 inside the first minute of the second half, the Wildcats came roaring back with a locked in defensive effort and shots around the rim that were not falling early in the contest. An 11-2 run, highlighted by a pair of baskets and a steal by Ashley, cut the Wolverines' lead to 41-39 inside the first four minutes.

Johnson's 3-pointer with 12:13 to play then made it 47-46 and it was back and forth from then on.

The Wildcats were erratic to start, making just four of their first 16 shots and rushing a number of opportunities on the offensive glass. The Wolverines pushed the tempo to race out to a 15-9 lead early.

UA settled in with the help of a pair of baskets around the rim from Ashley, slowing down the pace and pulling with 19-18 at the 7:12 mark. But a 3-pointer from Robinson III and Stauskas keyed the push to an eight-point lead.

Michigan, which shot 6 of 11 from beyond the arc in the half, cashed in its last attempt on a Robinson III basket just before the break. The sophomore, who came into the game shooting just 44 percent, made all seven of his attempts in the first 20 minutes.

After the Wildcats cut the deficit back down to 2, the Wolverines closed the final 2:25 on a 9-2 run to take a 37-28 lead into the locker room. The nine-point margin matched the largest halftime deficit UA has faced this season.

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Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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