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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Recap: Arizona defeats Stanford 91-69 on senior day

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Kyle Hansen

Arizona guard T.J. McConnell triumphantly walks off the court for the last time in his college basketball career at the end of Arizona’s 91-69 victory over Stanford in McKale Center on Saturday.

Nineteen seconds into Arizona’s 91-69 victory over Stanford on Senior Day, T.J. McConnell dished to Matt Korcheck for a senior to senior connection to open up the scoring. In many ways, that play was symbolic of the action on Saturday in McKale Center.

In McConnell’s last home game as a Wildcat, the fifth-year senior from Pittsburgh, Penn., recorded a double-double with 10 points, 11 assists, three steals and two rebounds. The McKale Center crowd erupted as he and Korcheck simultaneously subbed out at home for the final time.

As he left, McConnell raised a hand in acknowledgement to the fans and kissed the half court block “A” before heading to the bench.

“I’ve been thinking about [kissing the ‘A’] for a while,” McConnell said. “I’ve seen people do that on their senior days in college. I respect this place so much, and I love this place so much, that I needed to do something like that.”

Joining McConnell with big nights were four other Wildcats who scored in double-figures. Brandon Ashley scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and reserve guard Gabe York put up 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Kaleb Tarczewski gave up his normal starting spot in favor of Korcheck and scored 13 points off the bench. As a team, Arizona’s bench outscored Stanford’s bench 41-15, largely behind efforts of York and Tarczewski.

After the game, Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller said Korcheck deserved to start and, had he put it up for a team vote, would have started regardless.

“Matt deserves it; he’s sacrificed a lot,” Miller said. “He could’ve gone to a different program … but he wanted to be a part of this. He wanted to be a part of our basketball family, and I think what he’s done every day has been nothing short of remarkable.”

While Korcheck got the Wildcats on the scoreboard first, the team struggled to consistently score for portions of the first half, before an 18-4 run over the last 6:41 of the half to send the team into the halftime break. York put the finishing touch on that by hitting a 3-pointer just seconds before the buzzer sounded.

The second half was more chippy than the first, with Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson picking up technical fouls. Much to the delight of the McKale Center crowd, Stanford’s Chasson Randle missed the front end of both technical foul free-throw opportunities.

In total, 100 fouls were called in the two times the programs matched up in the regular season: 51 in Maples Pavilion and 49 in McKale Center.

“Stanford is a very physical team; they generally do foul a lot,” Miller said. “That’s not my opinion, and I’m not judging how they play, but it’s always a very physical game when you play Stanford, and you have to adjust and compete. And we did a good job.”

Randle led Stanford with 16 points, and center Stefan Nastic added 14 points. However, both players fouled out in the second half. As a team, Stanford shot 37 percent and had four players in double-figures.

Arizona made eight 3-pointers as a team and finished 25-32 from the free-throw line. The Wildcats finished the regular season 28-3 overall and 16-2 in Pac-12 Conference play.

As Miller put it, the regular season is over, and it’s all about the Pac-12 tournament now.

“The regular season is over; we feel good about what we’ve done,” Miller said. “It’s on to one thing, and that is the Pac-12 tournament. And it’s not the NCAA tournament. It’s about getting ready, being at our best, enjoying March Madness … going out there and playing really well.”

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