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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

After special senior day, eyes turn to Vegas

Arizona+guard+Gabe+York+%281%29+screams+in+victory+during+the+game+against+Stanford+University+on+Saturday%2C+March+5.+This+was+Yorks+last+home+game+as+an+Arizona+Wildcat.%0A
Sydney Richardson
Arizona guard Gabe York (1) screams in victory during the game against Stanford University on Saturday, March 5. This was York’s last home game as an Arizona Wildcat.

Minutes away from the final buzzer in the second half, Arizona guard Gabe York got the nod from head coach Sean Miller telling him his time to check out of the game was coming up.

York waved to the roaring fans of McKale Center, walked over to center court, got on his knees and kissed the block “A,” T.J. McConnell-style. 

This March Saturday afternoon game in McKale Center lacked a pair of scissors and a ladder (there would be Pac-12 Conference championship to celebrate), but a different type of atmosphere rang through McKale Center on Senior Day. 

“To leave this season with a win is tremendous and even though we didn’t cut down the nets today, the chemistry and resiliency embodied in this team stems from this group of seniors,” Miller said. 

Five seniors with five different backgrounds all led Arizona to a special moment in its final home stand. 

At the beginning of the game, Miller didn’t give what everyone in Tucson hoped, which was to see Jacob Hazzard start as point guard, but instead went with the usual suspects. 

“No disrespect to Jacob, but we wanted to get off to a good start,” Miller said. 

To Miller’s credit, Oregon already sealed the deal for the conference, meaning the Wildcats were playing for Pac-12 Tournament seeding. Any chance of getting out of rhythm could cost Arizona. 

Losing momentum in the final game could be the difference between playing on a Wednesday afternoon or a Thursday night. 

With the win, Arizona assured itself a first-round bye in Las Vegas. Instead, the Wildcats will take on the winner of the No. 5-No. 12 matchup between Colorado and Washington State at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. 

But Saturday’s victory is one worth savoring. 

Following York’s performance against California Thursday, he picked up right where he left off, hitting nine 3-pointers, which is a tie with Salim Stoudamire for most in a single game in program’s history. York is now mentioned in the same sentence as the man who’s being inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Fame. 

“I wish I would’ve known he tied the record. I would have kept him out there for one more 3,” Miller said. “I would have loved to see him break it.”

Even though York was grinning from cheek-to-cheek the entire second half, he was able to find Hazzard for a trio of 3-pointers, giving him a career-high nine points on 3-4 from beyond the arc.

Senior Day also marked the final time Kaleb Tarczewski, Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen would suit up on the McKale Center floor.

Anderson came to Arizona with only one season of eligibility after transferring from Boston College, but left his final imprint with his 16th double-double of the season. 

“It was awesome to have my journey end like this, but I think we have a lot left going and I think that’s what’s most exciting is to see what these next couple weeks has in store for us,” Anderson said. “And hopefully it’s more memories.” 

It wasn’t the fairytale ending that the Wildcats were hoping for in terms of going undefeated at home and winning the conference, but Arizona is on a mission, and finally hitting fifth gear under the radar can be a blessing in disguise. 

“Because we didn’t [go] undefeated this year, it really feels like something went wrong, but I think that’s a compliment to these seniors,” Miller said. “We go to Las Vegas hungry, eager and excited to play.”


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