After barely surviving a threat from unranked Pepperdine in a 93-91 win on Thursday night, No. 14 Arizona now faces the task of facing a Penn team that has road wins over Alabama and Providence this season.
The Wildcats (7-0) will play the Quakers (4-2) in a semifinal game Friday of the John Wooden Legacy at Anaheim, Calif. Penn beat Central Florida 68-67 earlier in another quarterfinal Thursday.
“Penn won big at Providence and they won at Alabama,” Arizona associate head coach Jack Murphy said in a postgame radio interview. “They beat a good, athletic UCF team here. They execute like most Ivy League teams by moving the ball around. They will execute with good-shooting bigs that will test our bigs.
“They are not sleeping shaking in their boots after watching this one. They have to be thinking they can score almost 90 points as well.”
Arizona downed Pepperdine behind freshman guard Nico Mannion’s length-of-the-court driving bank shot with 2.1 seconds left.
Penn won its game over Central Florida with some controversy at the end.
Central Florida freshman guard Darin Green Jr. made what appeared to be a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The referees viewed the replay and determined Green’s foot was on the line and it was ruled a two-point shot, ending the game.
The shot was set up after Penn’s Lucas Monroe committed a turnover on an inbound pass at midcourt with two seconds left.
“I knew it was going to be changed,” Penn coach Steve Donahue said. “I thought we guarded that shot or deflected it. Give the kid credit he made it. I thought we guarded it well. We did not do a good job handling the pressure to get the ball in cleanly. Bit give UCF credit.”
Penn made its last seven shots, ending the game making 24 of 47 (51.1 percent) shots from the field. The Quakers have now won 16 straight and 31 of the past 32 games when shooting at least 50 percent.
AJ Brodeur led the Quakers with 23 points, extending his streak to 30 straight games scoring in double figures.
Ryan Betley had his fourth career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’re probably the only team in the country who has only played one home game,” Donahue said. “And we still have two to three more till we play another home game; that affects your shooting as well. For the most part I’ve been pretty happy with our offense.”
Arizona shot 60.7 percent from the field against Pepperdine including an 11-of-20 performance from 3-point range.
Freshmen Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji were efficient from the field with Green making 9 of 13 shots from the field and 4 of 5 from beyond the arc to finish with 24 points and Nnaji making 6 of 8 shots for 16 points with 11 rebounds.
Dylan Smith, a senior, had 16 points making 4 of 6 from 3-point range. The shooting by Green and Smith helped offset Pepperdine making 13 of 27 from beyond the arc.
“I think we’re a good 3-point shooting team. We’ve really been a good 3-point shooting team so far this season,” Murphy said. “Pepperdine is a good shooting team, too. We were both in the top 30 in 3-point shooting in the nation. Neither of us will be in the top 30 in field-goal percentage defense after this one.”
–Field Level Media