PHOENIX — The University of Arizona was ready to go for the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Thursday but failed to take down the 15-seed Princeton Tigers, losing 59-55
The wildcats were a 2-seed.
Tosan Evbuomwan and Princeton used a late-game run to earn the school's first NCAA Tournament win in 25 years.
The Tigers (22-9) scored the final nine points to finish the upset, holding the Pac-12 Tournament champion scoreless over the final 4:21.
Evbuomwan scored 15 points in Princeton's first tournament victory since beating UNLV in 1998 when current coach Mitch Henderson was a player for the Tigers.
Princeton advanced to play seventh-seeded Missouri in the second round of the South Region. The Tigers beat Utah State 76-65.
Azuolas Tubelis scored 21 points for the Wildcats (28-7), who haven't won a tournament game in consecutive years since 2014-15.
A.Tubelis 9-20 3-4 22, Ballo 6-10 1-2 13, Kriisa 1-7 0-0 3, Ramey 4-10 0-0 8, Henderson 1-4 0-0 2, Larsson 1-3 0-0 2, Boswell 2-3 0-0 5, Veesaar 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 24-57 4-7 55.
Evbuomwan 7-15 1-2 15, Kellman 4-4 0-0 8, Pierce 2-6 2-3 6, Allocco 3-12 0-0 6, Langborg 4-13 0-0 8, Martini 3-7 0-0 7, Peters 3-6 0-0 9, Lee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-64 3-5 59.
UArizona was the heavy favorite in the matchup, coming off their second Pac-12 Championship in as many years and tried to take that momentum into March Madness.
It was a close battle most of the first half until UArizona began to pull away before halftime, but Princeton went on a run of their own. At halftime, the Wildcats hold a slim 31-30 lead over the Tigers.
UArizona's offense was anchored by second-team AP All-American Azuolas Tubelis.
Led by Tubelis, the Wildcats are expected to have a deep run in the tournament and be a popular choice to contend for the championship.
Head Coach Tommy Lloyd has a deep, experienced core group of players and should find success in this year's tournament.
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