Fourth-seeded Arizona, the Pac-12's regular-season and tournament champion, was upset by 13th-seeded Buffalo in an 89-68 rout in the first round Thursday night, following losses by Arizona State and UCLA in preliminary-round games the previous days. That East Coast toughness.
It was the second-straight year the Tigers, who are on a seven-game winning streak, were lifting the conference tournament crown. "I know they're a really good team", United Kingdom sophomore Wenyen Gabriel said Friday.
The Wildcats shot 45.9 percent overall but hit just 2 of 18 3-pointers.
Far away from the Buffalo pizza and wing joints, Calipari knows he's playing a team that has come a long way from the one he faced in Buffalo's first season returning to Division I. It lost to South Dakota State, and St. Bonaventure, both NCAA teams. ASU fumbled through the latter part of their schedule and finished with an 8-10 conference record and early elimination in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats went 0 for 6 from 3-point range, marking the first time since the 1988 Great Alaska Shootout that they had not made a 3, a span of 1,047 games. Clark previously played for Buffalo Head Coach Nate Oats when both were at Romulus HS in MI. If the Devils continue to create extra possessions through turnovers Saturday, then they could simply score a lot more than Nebraska because they'll shoot a lot more.
The Wildcats' 7-1, 260-pound Pac-12 Player of the Year (and Freshman of the Year) will be the difference in this ballgame.
Arizona received 13 points from its bench, outscored Buffalo in the paint 42-30, and was out-rebounded by the Bulls 32-31. "They're the ones who have all the pressure on them because they're expected to win". Coming into Thursday night, Buffalo ranked fifth in points per game (84.7), 19th in possessions (76.5) and 28th in offensive efficiency nationally.
Prediction: I expect this to be a close game and the key will be the Wildcats ability to defend the three.
The senior isn't a bad 7-foot Robin to Ayton's Batman role.
When Texas and Arizona State play Monday for a spot in the Sweet 16, may the best rebounder win. Losing to the Bruins twice is a big problem but is that enough to leave out of the big dance? Massinburg can also make it rain from deep as he has shot 39.3 percent this season.
Both the conferences get an automatic bid every year but rarely have to play each other.
Bulls head coach Nate Oats (side) and junior guard CJ Massinburg (side) talk to the media outside Prior Aviation before the Bulls left for Boise, Idaho.