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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona sent packing early in NCAA Tournament

Jesus Barrera
Arizona guard Gabe York (1) and other members of Arizona basketball sit in shame in Dunkin’ Donuts Center after losing to Wichita State.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Arizona came into their first round match-up with Wichita State averaging 81 points per game as a high-powered offensive unit.

The Shockers brought that machine to a screeching halt Thursday night.

After two seasons that ended with brutal Elite Eight losses, Arizona is heading back to Tucson one weekend earlier as Wichita State dominated the Wildcats 65-55 in front of 11,559 people at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Wichita State tournament veterans Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet led the way for the rugged Shockers. Baker finished with 13 points and six assists and VanVleet added 14 points for a Shocker team that shot 41 percent from the field.

“It’s always tough to have it end so quickly when you’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” Arizona senior guard Gabe York said. “They’re all people who I’m going to miss. It sucks to see this chapter end in my life.”

York finished his final game with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Kaleb Tarczewski finished with eight points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Anderson added eight points and 11 rebounds in their final game in Wildcat uniforms.

The Shocker’s tough defense led the way as they forced the Wildcats into tough shots all night. Arizona finished the game shooting 42 percent from the field and only 27 percent in the first half. The Wildcats also committed 19 turnovers as Wichita State pressed all game and locked down interior passes.

Read: Wichita State takes a page out of Sean Miller’s book to upset Wildcats in first round of NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats made the game interesting late even after trailing by as many as 24 points in the second half. Arizona went on a late 11-0 run over three minutes midway through the half to trim the lead, and even brought the score to within single digits with 1:36 to play at 60-51.

However, Wichita State’s lead was too insurmountable for the Wildcats.

“I had some open looks and I couldn’t get some of them to go down,” York said. “Give credit to Ron Baker and those guys. They made it tough on every play.”

Wichita State went into the half leading 31-19. Arizona’s last lead of the game was 7-6 at 3:32 into the game. After this early lead, the Shockers forced the Wildcats to a five and a half minute scoring drought, including a stretch of nine missed shots in a row.

Arizona went 10:03 without scoring a field goal in the first half, a run in which the Shockers jumped to a 19-9 lead. This run was ended by a York 3, his first points of the game.

With two and a half minutes left in the half, Baker knocked down another three and VanVleet scored on a breakaway layup to extend Wichita State’s lead to double digits for the first time in the game.

“I really want to say that I’m proud of this year’s team,” Tarczewski said. “Of all the adversity we’ve gone through and everything we have overcome. When I look back at my four years at Arizona, I’m proud to say that I’ve worn an Arizona jersey and I’ve been a part of such a great program.”

Arizona will finish the season at 25-9 and has been ousted in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats will also say goodbye to five seniors, three of them starters.

“These two guys next to me, it’s going to be really really hard to say goodbye to both,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said of York and Tarczewski after the game. “When you think of the word legacy in college basketball, Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York have a legacy at Arizona. A legacy of winning.”

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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