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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 1 Arizona falls to No. 3 Purdue in the Indy Classic

Jackie Cabrera
The Arizona mens basketball team huddles up during the game against Morgan State on Nov. 7 in McKale Center. The Wildcats won the game with a score of 122-59.

INDIANAPOLIS — The No. 1 Arizona men’s basketball team picked up its first loss of the season after falling to No. 3 Purdue University 92-84 in the Indy Classic on Saturday, Dec. 16, in the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Caleb Love and Keshad Johnson combined for 53 points, but their efforts were not enough to keep the Wildcats (9-1) unbeaten season intact. 

The Wildcats had a respectable turnout by the Arizona faithful but were still severely outnumbered by the Purdue fan base. Although a neutral site game by technicality, Purdue is still located less than 70 miles from the Gainbridge Fieldhouse and made the arena Mackey 2.0. 

First Half:

The Wildcats were in control early, jumping out to a 17-11 lead six minutes into the first half. However, sloppy basketball, highlighted by three straight turnovers by Arizona, allowed Purdue to score eight straight points, taking a 19-17 lead near the midway mark of the first half.

The Wildcats and the Boilers traded baskets over the next five minutes before Purdue closed the first half on a 19-8 scoring run to take a 49-38 lead into the break.

Purdue’s two sophomore guards, Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith caused issues for Arizona’s defense in the first half. Loyer scored 18, while Smith scored 14 on a combined 13-19 from the field and 6-9 from behind the arc.

Johnson and Love combined for 20 of the Wildcats 38 first-half points. The other 18 points were split between Oumar Ballo, Kylan Boswell, Pelle Larsson and Motiejus Krivas.

Although trailing 11 at the half, Arizona still shot 54% from the field, matching Purdue’s shooting percentage. However, the Wildcats, which entered second in the nation in rebounds, were outrebounded 18-10 and 9-1 on the offensive boards. The Boilers took advantage of the second-chance opportunities and outscored the Wildcats 9-2 on second-chance points.

Second Half:

Love opened the second half by scoring six of the Wildcats’ first eight points to cut their deficit down to nine.

However, behind a phenomenal scoring effort by Loyer and Smith, the Boilers increased Purdue’s lead to 15 as they led 67-52 less than six minutes into the second half.

With their backs against the wall, the Wildcats transitioned from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone, which immediately sparked an 11-0 scoring run to cut their deficit down to four midway through the second half.

Johnson scored seven, while Ballo scored the other four points in Arizona’s 11-0 scoring run. “UofA” chants reigned down the Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the first time since midway into the first half, as Arizona trailed 67-63.

Purdue went nearly 10 minutes without converting a single field goal. However, Arizona could only manage to cut its deficit down to four points. The Wildcats had several opportunities to continue chipping away at their deficit, but poor shot selections and costly turnovers halted each Arizona run.

Led by eight straight points by reigning National Player of the Year Zach Edey, the Boilers got back into a rhythm and pulled away from the Wildcats again. “Boiler Up” chants reigned across the arena as the Boilers once again increased their lead to double-digits as they led 83-73 late in the second half.

Tommy Lloyd called a timeout in an attempt to spark one last run with less than four minutes remaining, but Arizona could only narrow the gap down to six before time expired. The Boilermakers, behind strong performances by Loyer, Smith and Edey, handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season, 92-84.

Arizona shot 52% from the field and 38% from behind the arc. However, the Wildcats were an abysmal 2-12 from deep in the second half. The Wildcats turned the ball over 13 times and were outrebounded 32-26 and 11-5 on the offensive boards.

Amid the struggles, the Wildcats received strong performances by both Love and Johnson, who each recorded season-highs in scoring. Love led the Wildcats with 29 points, followed closely by Johnson, who scored a career-high 24 points and hauled in a team-high eight rebounds. 

Of the rest of the Wildcats, Ballo scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds, Larsson had 10 points and six assists and Boswell had six, all of which came in the first half.

Looking Ahead:

The Wildcats are back in action Wednesday, Dec. 20 when they face the University of Alabama in the Hall of Fame Series at the Footprint Center in Phoenix at 9 p.m.

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