In a back-and-forth game, the Arizona Wildcats hit the key foul shots it needed to defeat the San Diego State Aztecs in their Christmas Day matchup. From the beginning, this game promised to come down to the final shot, and it didn't disappoint, as Nick Johnson swatted the Aztecs' last-ditch layup to seal the 68-67 thriller for the Wildcats.
Fouls characterized the night for both teams. San Diego State especially struggled with 21 personal fouls on the night. Not surprisingly, it was a personal foul from the Aztecs and the ensuing free throws that sunk the Aztecs.
The Aztecs were boosted by Chase Tapley, whose 19 points paced the team. Tapley was efficient from deep, knocking down three of his seven shots from beyond the arc. His defense was also solid, with a block and two steals on the night.
Solomon Hill was the star of the show for the Wildcats. With 21 points and six boards, Hill was active on both ends of the court. He was hampered somewhat by poor shooting from deep and the free-throw line, but he made up for that with a strong effort in other phases of the game.
Another Wildcat worth mentioning is Kevin Parrom, who racked up 17 points on just 11 shots.
As good as those two were, it was Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons who delivered for the Wildcats in the clutch. Lyons hit the game-winning free throws, while Johnson made the game-saving block.
Check out the best reactions of the night on Twitter.
ESPN's Andy Katz commented on the great quality of the game:
Arizona's Nick Johnson with a block on Aztecs' Chase Tapley for the W (12-0). Quality game between two teams we will see deep in March.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) December 26, 2012
Gary Parrish of CBS encouraged people to catch the game down the stretch:
This Arizona-San Diego State game on ESPN2 is intense. Worth catching the last eight minutes if you're still up on this Christmas night.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) December 26, 2012
Jamaal Franklin's virtual absence from the game for SDSU was noticeable to many fans and analysts, as Jon Rothstein points out:
Jamaal Franklin with zero points and San Diego State only trails Arizona by two at the half. Aztecs will definitely take that.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 26, 2012
Finally, Solomon Hill earned tournament MVP for the Wildcats:
The Wildcats will host the Colorado Buffaloes January 3, while the Aztecs host Cal State Bakersfield on January 2.