Arizona Wildcats Lose In First Round Of NIT, Season Ends On Low Note
The Arizona Wildcats missed out on the NCAA Tournament and the Pac-12 title but they will have another shot at winning a postseason tournament. The NIT selections were announced on Sunday and the Wildcats are one of four No. 1 seeds.
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The season is finally over for the Arizona Wildcats. So much hope, so much potential, and it ends with a humiliating loss in the first round of the NIT to the Bucknell Bison. Simply put, the Bison wanted the game more than the UA and dominated nearly every area of the game. Most felt the Wildcats would be unmotivated heading into the contest after losing a heartbreaker to Colorado over the weekend and that proved to be the theme of the game.
Sean Miller preached all week that this final tournament was for seniors Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry and Brendon Lavender. Perry was torn apart defensively, although he did score 14 points, but Fogg and Lavender combined for just five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
Solomon Hill continued his strong play with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Angelo Chol impacted both ends of the court in limited playing time.
Mike Muscala dominated the Wildcats throughout the evening and the lanky forward finished with 20 points and nine rebounds despite fouling out with nearly four minutes left in the game. Junior guard Bryson Johnson hit four of his seven attempts from behind the arc as he scored 14 on the night. Cameron Ayers ended with a double-double, scoring 12 points and bringing down 10 rebounds.
Best of luck to Bucknell going forward in the NIT.
Just one year removed from coming up two points short of a Final Four appearance, the Arizona Wildcats are a No. 1 seed ... in the NIT. There will be no last-minute heroics against Memphis or Texas, no complete and total domination of Duke in 2012. Instead, the UA will get to send out their seniors with a few extra home games and will be playing for the chance to play at Madison Square Garden to capture an NIT championship.
Their first opponents will be the Bucknell Bison on Wednesday evening. Tipoff from Tucson is set for 7 p.m. Fans can find the game being broadcast live on ESPN2, with former-Wildcat Miles Simon serving as the analyst.
The Bison finished the 2011-2012 season with an impressive record of 24-9, including a 12-2 mark in Patriot League play. Mike Muscala, a 6-foot-11, 240 pound junior forward will likely give Arizona fits with his size and soft touch around the rim. He averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Joe Willman, Cameron Ayers and Bryson Johnson are all capable scorers and must all play well for Bucknell to win against the 'Cats.
For Arizona, this game is about sending their seniors out with a few extra wins and to give their young players some needed seasoning. Josiah Turner will not play due to his suspension, so look for Jordin Mayes and Nick Johnson to play heavy point guard minutes. Do not be surprised if freshman big man Angelo Chol plays extended minutes in the NIT, seeing as he will likely be the only returning post player to the team next season.
Tickets are still available for the game, although the Athletic Department announced that 5,000 tickets had already sold as of Monday evening. Contact the ticket box office to remaining seats. Reserved seats are going for $25, while general admission to the end zone and upper deck seats are $15. Students can get in for $5.
The Arizona Wildcats may have missed out on the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but they received top placement in the other postseason college basketball tournament. On Sunday, Arizona was announced as the No. 1 seed in one of two brackets and will meet Bucknell in the first round.
The first bracket features plenty of Pac-12 teams that missed out on the NCAA Tournament.