Yet, because the Arizona Wildcats could not hang on and beat Xavier Thursday night, their season - which featured a Pac-12 regular season co-championship as well as a Pac-12 Tournament title - is done. His footwork is impeccable, he has moves and countermoves, he can finish over either shoulder, and he does his work early, sealing and pinning defenders before they realize they've already lost. Trier scored seven unanswered points in crunch time to give Arizona a 64-61 lead with just over five minutes left.
The Jayhawks rolled to easy wins over UC Davis and Michigan State to start the NCAA Tournament, and the cold, calculating way they dispatched Purdue should make them the favorite going forward. "There has never been anybody and we've had some great players and kids at Xavier and Arizona that means more to me that embodies the good in college basketball than Kadeem Allen", Arizona head coach Sean Miller said after the loss to Xavier. "He called plays, after timeouts, underneath out of bounds, he got his players some great shots".
Now, Arizona will travel to San Jose to face Xavier.
Xavier made an improbable run to its fourth Sweet 16 in eight years under (Chris) Mack, overcoming a late six-game losing streak and slew of injuries that included the loss of point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn left ACL in late January. The Musketeers pulled off a pair of upsets to reach the regional semifinals, beating No. 6 seed Maryland and No. 3 Florida State the first weekend of the tournament. After a tough three point loss to Creighton in the Big East tournament, Xavier has looked every part of a solid tournament team. They had sent win-probability algorithms into a "does not compute" tizzy.
"Recently, he hasn't played as much", UA coach Sean Miller said last week. Instead of using Markkanen as a pick-and-pop ace, Arizona let its guards dictate the end of the game.
Xavier Musketeers guard Malcolm Bernard (left) and guard Trevon Bluiett (5) celebrate after defeating the Arizona Wildcats during the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center. He missed Arizona's final shot. He had the Koenig shot on his mind. "Tough way to go out, especially knowing we had a lot of momentum". "I felt like seeing the guys we had coming back and committed, I thought it would've given me the best chance to win".
That entailed running a quick-hitter out of the timeout and getting the ball to Bluiett at the top of the key. Bill Murray, the actor who made "Cinderella story" a comically famous cinematic line, is a super fan, attending games and rooting for the Musketeers and his son Luke Murray, a Xavier assistant coach. Ristic missed a heavily guarded eight-footer with 51 seconds left and, when Bluiett had the ball with 40 seconds left, instead of shooting it, he passed under the basket to Sean O'Mara who made what became the game-winning basket.
-Why wasn't his team more comfortable with its zone offense after 36 games?
Xavier once again fell back into its 2-3 zone, which was central to pulling off this upset.
Deulofeu and video technology help Spain tame France
And so the goal was disallowed and Spain eventually won 2-0. "But we had been warned and the match can't be summed up by this". The goal, however, was awarded after German referee Felix Zwayer asked the video assistant to check the decision.
That has turned Gonzaga into one of the nation's most consistent programs.
With six staffers here in San Jose (by far the most of anybody, I believe), we have gobs of coverage on our Wildcats page and if you're able to get a print edition today, we have a Sweet 16 special section, too.
Xavier knocked off No. 2 Arizona 73-71 on Thursday.
Little did anybody know, those would be his final points of the season and - most likely - his final points in an Arizona uniform. They're an athletic team, athletic guards and they play well together.
In the end, Markkanen finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 39 minutes.
The Musketeers held Arizona scoreless over the final 2:52 to earn a spot in the West final against No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday. He had gotten the best of Jones and the Xavier bigs all night, scoring 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting to that point.
DID YOU KNOW? Gonzaga and Xavier are both Jesuit schools that have met four times previously.
And now, Arizona is out of its chance to reach the Final Four, something that's eluded Miller for his career.
Ultimately, however, the Wildcats just didn't have the talent defensively to be as good as they needed to be and Xavier exposed it on a grand stage.