The No. 2 Arizona Wildcats are undefeated no more.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack stunned Arizona 90-84 on Wednesday at the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. Senior guard Allerik Freeman led the way with 24 points and five assists, giving the ACC a noteworthy nonconference win early in the season against the Pac-12 powerhouse.
North Carolina State is now 5-0 on the season, while Arizona dropped to 3-1.
ESPN Stats & Info illustrated winning these marquee contests is nothing new for North Carolina State:
The Wolfpack's defense set the tone by swarming out on the Arizona shooters throughout the contest, forcing difficult shots and keeping the nation's No. 2 team in the country at bay.
The Wildcats were a mere 2-of-17 from three-point range, as only National Player of the Year candidate Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton scored more than 11 points. They each had 27 points in defeat, while Ayton grabbed 14 rebounds as a force down low.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports noted Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who has never made the Final Four in his otherwise impressive career, is accustomed to losing at this stage of a tournament:
While the outside shooting against North Carolina State's perimeter defenders was a concern for Arizona, so was the fact the Wolfpack poured in 90 points and gradually pulled away down the stretch with 50 points after intermission. The ACC representative played just three guys off the bench, but Braxton Beverly (20 points), Abdul-Malik Abu (eight points and eight rebounds) and Omer Yurtseven (11 points and nine boards) all thrived as reserves.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports pointed to the defensive struggles for Arizona:
It was just one November game, but Jeff Goodman of ESPN didn't paint a pretty picture for the Wildcats moving forward:
North Carolina State now awaits the winner of the showdown between Northern Iowa and Southern Methodist University in the winner's bracket.
As for Arizona, it doesn't have to go home like it would in the one-and-done NCAA tournament. It will play the loser of the SMU and Northern Iowa contest and try to put Wednesday's loss in the rearview mirror before the middle portion of its schedule.