Duke vs Arizona

No. 4 Arizona beats No. 6 Duke in NIT championship

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NEW YORK -- It wasn't a marquee matchup of freshmen, although both of the young stars showed how bright their futures can be.

Instead, No. 4 Arizona's 72-66 victory over No. 6 Duke on Friday night in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off was a chance for two junior guards to take the spotlight.

Nick Johnson scored all but two of his 15 points in the second half and T.J. McConnell had 10 points and eight assists to lead the Wildcats to the win that showed just how versatile a team they are.

"We're an all-around team. Really you could see it in the box score. It was pretty even all the way around," Johnson, the tournament's MVP, said, referring to the five starters scoring in double figures. "We're a good team and we can play with anybody."

The game was expected to be a matchup of two of the best freshmen in the country and, although Aaron Gordon of Arizona and Jabari Parker of Duke didn't spend a lot of time covering each other or supplying highlight clips, they were both key factors in the outcome.

Gordon, the quiet forward, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds and came up big late with a dunk on an alley-oop pass and then fed fellow freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for a dunk less than a minute later to give the Wildcats (7-0) a 61-51 lead with 3:59 to play.

"He stayed patient, which is one of the qualities that he has as a player," Arizona coach Sean Miller said of Gordon, who had two points in 11 minutes in the first half. "I chose not to play him a lot in the first half, because he was in foul trouble. ... He played 20 minutes in the second half so he was out there more. But we as a group have to find ways to use his offensive talent even more, and he's such a unique player."

Parker, who had 19 points for his first game with fewer than 20 points this season, struggled against Arizona's physical defense and was 7 of 21 from the field. He came into the game shooting 60 percent from the field.

"Jabari gets a lot of attention and it was a good physical game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "His shots just didn't go down."

Parker, who came into the game shooting 61 percent from beyond the arc, missed all five of his 3-point attempts.

"I need to get experience against big guys," said the 6-foot-8 Parker, who faced an Arizona frontline that goes 6-9, 6-8, 7-foot.

"Two things you can't practice against are quickness and length," Krzyzewski said. "We have quickness. We don't have length. They have great length on their team."

The victory gave Arizona its fourth NIT Season Tip-Off title, tying Duke (6-2) for the most ever.

"I tell you, I'm really ecstatic that we were able to win this tournament here in the Garden," Miller said. "Everybody here knows what a special place this is. We talk to our players a lot about it. ... So everybody embraced where we were because they knew it was a big stage and for us to get on a plane and travel about 15 hours tonight, it's going to be a nice plane ride home because I think we feel good about how hard we played and what we were able to accomplish."

Johnson, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 17.3 per game, shook off a quiet first half to become the focal point of Arizona's offense. His 3-pointer with 11:07 to play tied the game at 45. He hit another 3 with 6:22 left to give Arizona a 57-48 lead.

Brandon Ashley had 13 points and Kalen Tarczewski added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, who finished with a 36-28 rebound advantage.

Rodney Hood led Duke with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Blue Devils' other loss was to No. 2 Kansas.

"We talked all year about we don't have a center, and we have good players, and we have to figure out how to be good with the players we have," Krzyzewski said. "So I thought those kids played really well. I mean, I thought they played their hearts out."

Gordon, who came in averaging 12.5 points and 9.7 rebounds, had a big block of Rasheed Sulaimon with 45 seconds left and the Wildcats leading 65-59.

Duke had won 15 straight games in the NIT Season Tip-Off and had won 15 of its last 17 games played at Madison Square Garden.

The Blue Devils, who came into the game shooting 53.4 percent from the field, finished 25 of 58 from the field, including 4 of 14 from 3-point range, where they came in shooting 44.7 percent. They were held 24 points below their scoring average for the season.

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Nick Johnson leads the way with 15 points in Arizona's win over Duke and is named the tournament's most outstanding player. (USATSI)
Nick Johnson leads the way with 15 points in Arizona's win over Duke and is named the tournament's most outstanding player. (USATSI)
Scoreboard
Duke #6 (6-2)363066
Arizona #4 (7-0) «333972
DUKE:R. Hood 21 Pts
DUKE:R. Hood 8 Reb
DUKE:T. Thornton 3 Ast
ARIZ:N. Johnson 15 Pts
ARIZ:K. Tarczewski 9 Reb
ARIZ:T. McConnell 8 Ast

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PLAYERS OF THE GAME
DukeArizona
DUKE
Rodney Hood
ARIZ
T.J. McConnell
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
21811068
Duke Blue Devils
R. Hood, F388-144-581221
J. Parker, F387-215-721219
Q. Cook, G316-90-033313
T. Thornton, G231-30-02352
J. Hairston, F200-00-03120
R. Sulaimon, G242-83-30138
A. Jefferson, F190-10-34130
A. Dawkins, G41-10-00003
M. Jones, G20-10-00000
M. Plumlee, C10-00-00000
T. Zafirovski, FDid Not Play
A. Murphy, FDid Not Play
S. Ojeleye, FDid Not Play
N. Pagliuca, GDid Not Play
Totals 25-5812-1822112066
 43.1%66.7% 
Arizona Wildcats
T. McConnell, G392-76-668110
N. Johnson, G314-105-723315
A. Gordon, F314-61-174410
K. Tarczewski, C282-46-691210
B. Ashley, F266-80-020513
R. Hollis-Jefferson, F273-61-46237
G. York, G142-52-21007
J. Mayes, G40-10-00000
D. Mellon, FDid Not Play
J. Hazzard, GDid Not Play
M. Korcheck, FDid Not Play
Z. Peters, FDid Not Play
E. Conklin, FDid Not Play
C. Johnson, FDid Not Play
T. Mason, GDid Not Play
E. Pitts, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-4721-2633181872
 48.9%80.8% 
ACC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Duke0-05-053
NC State0-04-0133
Notre Dame0-04-0111
Syracuse0-04-0131
Virginia0-04-062
Florida St.0-03-016
Miami (Fla.)0-03-0110
N. Carolina0-03-038
Louisville0-02-068
Boston College0-04-1157
Clemson0-04-120
Va. Tech0-03-186
Georgia Tech0-01-1242
Pittsburgh0-01-3307
Wake Forest0-01-4269

Pac 12
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Colorado0-05-059
Arizona St.0-04-076
Oregon0-04-0194
Utah0-04-045
Arizona0-03-095
USC0-03-052
Wash. State0-03-0169
UCLA0-03-143
Oregon St.0-02-132
Stanford0-03-2261
California0-02-2260
Washington0-02-275
 
Other games
MTSM 65 Final
MIST 98
OKST 69 Final
BUTL 67
COPS 45 Final
MICH 87
UOP 62 Final
ORE 85
GW 60 Final
MU 76
NFLA 64 Final
OHST 99
MEMP 76 Final
LSU 69
USM 38 Final
LOU 69
UTEP 53 Final
IOWA 89
FSU 66 Final
FLA 67
SDSU 86 Final
CREI 80
KAN 59 Final
NOVA 63
NW 79 Final
UCLA 95