Maui’s rugged survival test ramps up a notch Tuesday night for No. 14 Arizona and the 17th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs in semifinal play in Lahaina, Hawaii.
Arizona (4-0) advanced in the Maui Invitational with a 101-93 win over Cincinnati in the opening round on Monday. It was anything but easy despite shooting 62.3 percent from the floor, including an even-more-blistering 79.3 percent in the second half.
Cincinnati brought its own Hawaiian heat. The Bearcats hit 62.9 percent from the floor in the second half — including 68.4 percent from 3-point range — but couldn’t catch up after trailing by 10 at the half.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said Cincinnati’s “staggering number” of 3-pointers were the result of “poor defensive execution, and we’re better than that. Obviously there will be some great teaching tools from this game, but unfortunately there’s not a lot of time to learn.”
San Diego State (4-0) hit 47.6 percent from long range in its 88-77 win over Ohio State. Matt Bradley, who averaged 18 and 16.9 points per game the last two seasons, was at only seven per game before scoring 18 against the Buckeyes. He made 6 of 11 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from long range.
“Matt’s a dynamic offensive player. I never worried about him, because I’d seen a full body of work from last year, so I know what he’s capable of,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “It’s just a matter of getting the confidence up and getting in a rhythm. And so now he’s in a little bit of a rhythm, so maybe we can ride that for a while.
The Aztecs built a 15-point lead in the first half, but saw the young and inexperienced Ohio State team pull within four with 13:28 to play in the game before pulling away again.
“We got a really good defensive effort in the first half,” Dutcher said. “We held ’em down, and then they got going, like they can. They started making 3s, and we kind of held in there, toughness-wise. We didn’t give in.”
Lamont Butler and Micah Parrish scored 15 points apiece and Adam Seiko added 14 for San Diego State. They combined to hit 17 of 26 shots from the floor and 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis and center Oumar Ballo led the assault against Cincinnati, scoring 30 and 21 points respectively while combining to hit 20 of 29 of their field goal attempts. The 6-foot-11 Tubelis finished with 11 rebounds, and the 7-foot Ballo added 10.
“When you have Oumar and ‘Zu working down low, it kind of frees the guards up to get great looks. They protected the paint,” said Arizona guard Courtney Ramey, who scored 17 points in his season debut.
Before Monday’s showing, Ramey served a three-game suspension for playing in a pre-NBA draft camp that the NCAA did not certify. Ramey later withdrew from draft consideration.
Ramey finished with 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 3 of 5 from long range.
His addition, joining starting point guard Kerr Kriisa, Cedric Henderson and Kylan Boswell, means backcourt minutes are a work in progress, Lloyd said.
“It’s something I’ve got to get a feel for over the course of the year, and it might fluctuate a little bit,” Lloyd said.
–Field Level Media