Bennedict Mathurin carries Arizona to victory over TCU

SAN DIEGO — When Arizona gets to the Final Four, when it wins the national championship, it will remember that shot and that performance.

It will be remembered that Bennedict Mathurin put the Wildcats on his back and refused to let the top seed in the South Region go down on Sunday night. He did everything but sweep the floor in a performance as impressive and impactful as any in two rounds of the dance.

The chiseled 6ft 6 Ontario student made sure this wild first weekend of the NCAA tournament didn’t end in another upset. He forced overtime with a clutch 3-pointer and took over the extra session, taking Arizona past the sturdy No. 9 TCU, 85-80, at the rocking Viejas Arena and into a Sweet 16 matchup with Arizona on Thursday night in San Antonio No. 4 Houston led .

“We came all the way from Tucson to San Diego for a reason: We came here to win,” Mathurin said.

Four straight points from Mathurin in overtime gave Arizona a four-point lead with 2:09 to go. Mike Miles Jr. answered with a three-point play, but Mathurin was back, getting an offensive rebound and finishing in the paint.

Benedict Mathurin
Bennedict Mathurin ended the game in top form with 30 points.
USA TODAY sports

“He’s the best player in the country and we’re the best team in the country,” said second-year guard Dalen Terry.

When Mathurin missed, junior center Christian Koloko was there for a wild follow-slam that emphatically iced the game with 9.5 seconds left as Arizona advanced back into the Sweet 16 for the first time in five years.

It was apropos that the two made it so big in overtime. Carrying Arizona through the tense and exciting night, Mathurin left the field with 30 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Koloko had 28 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Chuck O’Bannon Jr. had 23 points for TCU (21-13) and Eddie Lampkin added 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Eddie Lampkin leaves the court after TCU is eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
Eddie Lampkin leaves the court after TCU is eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
USA TODAY sports

The end of regulation was dramatic. Mathurin, a predicted lottery pick and PAC-12 Player of the Year making a big leap after a solid first year, hit a 25-foot shot from deep down the left wing to even out Arizona (33-3). to pull 12.9 seconds before the end. After a Miles turnover in midcourt, Terry had a chance to win, but his dunk came just after the horn and sent the game into overtime. It looked like there was contact during play – Miles was clearly nudged by Terry before losing the ball – but a whistle never blew.

“We deservedly won this game,” said Miles. “It was a foul but they didn’t say it.”

The Wildcats appeared to be in control, with a 67-58 lead and 7:52 remaining as TCU came alive. It ripped off a 12-0 run that was topped by Miles with four straight points and held a three-point lead after Lampkin’s offensive rebound and followed with just over half a minute to go. Arizona was shaky and unsure of where to put the ball until Mathurin took charge with the shot that saved the Wildcats’ season.

“I know that, I believed that the whole time,” said Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd, “and so did they.” Bennedict Mathurin carries Arizona to victory over TCU


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