Field Level Media
Dec 18, 2022
Azuolas Tubelis scored 19 points and Pelle Larsson made a key three-point play late as No. 9 Arizona held off No. 6 Tennessee 75-70 on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
Tubelis led the nation's top-scoring team by making 7 of 11 shots from the field and pulling down nine rebounds, while post partner Oumar Ballo had eight boards and 18 points, including two free throws with 26.8 seconds to go for a 73-67 lead.
The inside game was just enough for Arizona (10-1) to overcome a career-high 21 points from Tennessee sophomore Zakai Zeigler.
Tennessee (9-2) trailed by 10 with under eight minutes to go but battled back within one point on two occasions, including at 66-65 before Larsson made a three-point play with 2:30 left. The Volunteers missed on the other end, and then Ballo's short jumper in the lane put the Wildcats up 71-65 at the 1:44 mark.
Larsson finished with 17 points and Courtney Ramey contributed 13 in what was a physical matchup against Tennessee, which entered as the nation's top-rated team in defensive efficiency. The Wildcats shot just 20.8 percent (5 of 24) from 3-point range but still managed to win their 25th consecutive game at McKale Center.
Ballo started the second half with a three-point play to break a 35-all halftime tie and give Arizona a lead it would not relinquish.
The advantage was 10 with 7:22 to go after Ramey hit his fourth 3-pointer to bring the fans at McKale Center to their feet, but starting point guard Kerr Kriisa was called for a technical foul while on the Arizona bench, which changed the momentum of the game.
The Volunteers made two technical free throws and Santiago Vescovi made a driving layup to get Tennessee back within 61-55. Soon after, Zeigler and Tyreke Key hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make it 63-61.
Arizona had a big edge at the free throw line, making 24 of 27 attempts. Tennessee, whose first free throws came with 15:51 remaining, finished 8 of 10.
Tennessee played without Josiah-Jordan James due to ongoing knee problems that have limited him to five games.
--Field Level Media