Honolulu, HI, United States (4E Sports) – Mark Lyons sank two pressure-packed foul shots with 13 seconds left and Nick Johnson had a late block to help No. 3 Arizona beat No. 17 San Diego State, 68-67, and clinch the Diamond Head Classic Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center.
Lyons’ two foul shots and Johnson’s block on Chase Tapley gave the Wildcats their first win against a ranked opponent away from home since defeating Gonzaga in 2008 and their 12th win in as many games for their best start in 25 years.
The win also handed Arizona its first in-season tournament championship since the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic in 2005.
Also, this marked the first time the Wildcats achieved a 12-0 record since they opened the season with the same mark in the 1987-88 season. The Wildcats also avenged their 61-57 loss to the Aztecs last year.
Tournament MVP Solomon Hill finished with 21 points, Kevin Parrom added 17 and Johnson added 11 for the Wildcats. Lyons went 4-for-4 from the foul line to finish with nine markers.
Tapley scored 19 points, Xavier Thames had 11 and JJ O’Brien tallied 10 markers for the Aztecs, who dropped to 11-2.
San Diego’s leading scorer Jamaal Franklin went 2-for-6 from the field and missed all of his three-point attempts to finish with just nine points, ending his streak of 32 straight games in double figures.
Thames scored back-to-back baskets to give the Aztecs a 41-33 advantage with 16 minutes left in the second half.
However, the Wildcats slowly made their way back, outscoring the Aztecs, 18-9, in the next six minutes to take a 51-50 lead behind two foul shots by Hill.
The two teams then exchanged in the next nine minutes until Hill sank a foul shot to tie the count at 66, with 59 seconds left in the game.
Franklin split his charities before Lyons sank the game-winning free throws for the final count.