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February 1, 2014
Cal deals No. 1 Arizona first loss in stunner
After some drama earlier in the day in games featuring two of the nation's three undefeated teams, Arizona had its own to battle through Saturday night at California.
Only, now, there are just two unbeatens left in college basketball - and the Pac-12 Conference leaders may be without one of its starters for the rest of the season.
Playing without Brandon Ashley for most of the contest, the top-ranked Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season after Justin Cobbs' jump shot with 0.9 seconds left lifted the Bears to a 60-58 win at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif.
In his postgame interview, UA head coach Sean Miller said Ashley may be out for the season after possibly breaking his right foot just 2:08 into the contest. The sophomore forward returned to the team bench in a walking boot after halftime.
"We have to move forward if Brandon is not with us," Miller told Pac-12 Networks. "It looks to be broken. I don't think we can say that it is right now."
Miller added that the team will await the results of the X-ray, holding out hope that Ashley will instead miss a few weeks.
Arizona (21-1, 8-1 Pac-12) had a reverse fortune of shooting nights. Typically shaky at the free-throw line, UA made all 16 of its attempts - including a 12-of-12 effort from center Kaleb Tarczewski. But the 'Cats were just 32.3 percent from the field.
Trailing by 8 with 11 minutes to play, the Wildcats clamped down on defense and forced the Bears (15-7, 6-3 Pac-12) into a 1-of-6 stretch from the field. A pair of Tarczewski free throws tied the game at 54 with six minutes left, and the 7-footer added a go-ahead basket at the 4:18 mark.
But Cobbs, who scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half, accounted for Cal's final 12 points over the last 11 minutes. After Cobbs tied the game at 56 and then 58, Nick Johnson missed a floater in the lane with 17 seconds to play.
Johnson made just 1 of 14 from the field.
Then, Cobbs, with Tarczewski charging at him and falling down, drilled the game-winning baseline jump shot. After a premature court storm, Arizona's heave down the court was batted away and time expired.
Now, the run of eight consecutive weeks atop both major polls will come to an end.
"The thing about this game is it was eerily similar to so many of our wins," Miller told the network.
Cal, which shot 44.6 percent, also received 14 points and 11 rebounds from David Kravish. Richard Solomon added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Tyrone Wallace scored 11.
Tarczewski finished with 18 points to pace Arizona, followed by T.J. McConnell's 13 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's 10 off the bench. But McConnell, who made 6 of 12 shots, failed to record an assist for the first time this season.
Elsewhere around the country, No. 4 Wichita State erased a 15-point deficit to top Evansville and No. 2 Syracuse survived an overtime thriller against No. 17 Duke.
The win snapped the Bears' three-game losing streak and moved them into sole possession of third place in the league standings. Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford and Washington are all knotted a game back at 5-4.
The Wildcats converted a woeful 12 of 40 first-half shots, but hung around thanks to an 11-3 edge on the offensive glass and just three turnovers.
Solomon and Kravish combined for 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bears' charge. Solomon made all six of his first-half shots.
But despite missing eight of his 11 attempts, Aaron Gordon kept the Wildcats in it with six points, 10 rebounds and five assists through the first 20 minutes. Trailing by 9 with 5:17 left, UA scored 10 of the final 12 points to pull within 30-29 at the half.
But the freshman made just 4 of 14 shots in the contest and scored two points after the break. He finished with 13 rebounds.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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