No. 1 Arizona MBB falls to No. 5 Houston in the Sweet 16


Ryan Wohl

The Arizona men’s basketball team huddles up during a timeout on March 20, 2022 versus TCU in the Round of 32 during the NCAA Tournament.

Ryan Wohl

SAN ANTONIO — Arizona came up short today against the Houston Cougars by a score of 72-60.

The Wildcats struggled to shoot the ball throughout the entire game and just couldn’t get it going. They finished the contest 33% (18-54) from the field, 32% (7-22) from deep and 74% (17-23) from the free throw line.

Kerr Kriisa and Azuolas Tubelis combined for 5 points on 1-15 shooting from the field. It will be extremely hard for anyone to pull off a victory when two of their five starters shoot that poorly.

But don’t let that take away from what this Wildcat group accomplished this season.

Pac-12 regular season champions.

Pac-12 Tournament Champions.

Number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

First Sweet 16 appearance since 2018.

That was all accomplished while coming into the season being unranked.

“Overall, it was great and I thanked these guys after the game that they’re an amazing group of guys I will always be thankful for them,” head coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I think they really helped me get Arizona basketball off to a good start in my tenure.”

Lloyd did a fantastic job in his first season as Arizona’s basketball coach. He was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year and established a culture that will lead this program in the right direction moving forward.

“The next step for me is to get in the gym and get better,” Bennedict Mathurin said about NBA Draft speculation.

Dalen Terry was terrific in tonight’s game, where he scored 17 points, six rebounds along with three assists. He provided energy in this game when the team was trying to fight back. Terry showed he was the heart and soul of this team throughout the three tournament games. He will have a decision to make about his future moving forward along with Mathurin, but it seems like it might be too soon.

“We not thinking about that right now we just lost a a game,” Terry said.

Mathurin had a rough first half but come on in the second half and finished with 15 points along with four rebounds. This was likely his last game as a Wildcat because he will probably enter the NBA Draft.

“It was a tough game,” Mathurin said. “There is a lot of stuff we could have done better in order for us to win the game and I don’t have a lot to say.”

Sixth year guard Justin Kier has now played his last collegiate basketball game. He has had an incredible college career, starting at George Mason and transferring to the University of Georgia for one season. Kier came to Tucson this past offseason to finish his college career.

During his short period of time in this Wildcat program, he made an incredible impact on and off the court. He only scored 3 points along with two rebounds in 19 minutes against Houston but played a much bigger role since Lloyd arrived on campus.

Tubelis struggled in his three games in the tournament this season. He went 0-8 from the field against the Cougars while only scoring 2 points along with five rebounds. He still had a very good regular season, averaging 14 points and six rebounds per contest while being the Wildcats second leading scorer behind Mathurin.

“You know, he has had one of those weekends where he couldn’t buy a shot,” Lloyd said. “I’m looking forward to, you know, taking a little bit of a rest for myself and for him and getting back in the gym with [Tubelis] and I think he’s got a huge jump coming in the near future.”

The Wildcat fans arrived in San Antonio in large groups to show out and support this Arizona basketball team.

“I’m excited going forward because I want to build it and make it even better,” Lloyd said. “You know, I want our fan base to be the best in the country, and I think we have the potential to do that.”

“I’ll always be thankful for them, and I think we really built foundational pieces this year that are going to really serve as well going forward,” Lloyd said. “So you know, I’m extremely proud of the guys, extremely proud of the coaching staff, and we ran into a really good team tonight that was a little bit too much for us.”

No. 5 Houston will move on to face No. 2 Villanova in the Elite Eight on Saturday.

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