San Diego State coach Steve Fisher described his team as “very disappointed” in the wake of his team’s tight Thursday night loss to Arizona in the NCAA basketball tournament regional in Anaheim.
A late rally carried Arizona (33-4) to a hard-fought 70-64 win over the Aztecs (31-5).
Arizona — the top-seeded team in the West Region — trailed San Diego State, 32-28, at halftime and was down, 40-32, with 16 minutes, 41 seconds to play.
The Wildcats kept chipping away at the Aztecs lead, taking the lead for good at 52-50 with 5:46 left and building its lead to eight, 61-53, with 1:31 remaining.
Fourth-seeded San Diego State (31-5) pulled to within three, 67-64, with 19 seconds left after Xavier Thames made three free throws, but Gabe York made one of two free throws and Nick Johnson two of two to seal the victory.
“We were beaten by a very good team and we’re very disappointed,” Fisher said.
Johnson, Arizona’s leading scorer for the season, was scoreless in the first half, missing all seven shots. He scored 15 in the second half, making 10 of 10 free throws in the final 1:31.
“Once he starts going, it’s hard to beat us,” said Wildcats freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who joined Johnson and Aaron Gordon in sharing the team lead in scoring with 15 points.
The loss was the Aztecs second in their two Sweet 16 games. They lost to eventual national champion Connecticut, 74-67, in 2011, also at Honda Center, in their other Sweet 16 appearance.
San Diego State’s Thames led all scorers with 25 points.
Arizona coach Sean Miller said: “That was the most physical, hard-fought game of the season for us.”
— City News Service