INDIANAPOLIS – Arizona’s Sweet 16 appearance was hardly palatable.
Indeed, it was hard to swallow as the No. 12-seeded Wildcats were sent packing with a 103-64 loss to No. 1 Louisville on Friday night.
“We had no answer,” Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell said. “I thought we got some good looks at the basket that didn’t go in, then we just weren’t quick enough on our rotations on the defensive end.
“(The) game got away from us.”
The talent disparity was that noticeable. Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance, is hardly Utah or Cleveland State, UA’s first two opponents.
“We tried to fight and did fight and tried the best we could,” said UA junior Jordan Hill. “They are the No. 1 team in the nation. Could have been better, but, oh, well.”
The Wildcats finish the year at 21-14 in what will go down as a successful and inspiring season played under Pennell.
Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood has been looking for a name coach who will ultimately replace Hall of Famer Lute Olson, who retired suddenly in late October for health reasons.
Olson did not coach last season either.
“We’ll wind down from this loss and let Livengood handle his business,” said sophomore Jamelle Horne. “Hopefully, (he’ll get) who he feels more comfortable with. The search continues.”
The end of the season came with such precision and swiftness by the Cardinals it was incredible. The only question left by halftime – Louisville led 49-28 – was how much the Cardinals would win by.
Louisville ended up handing the Wildcats their worst loss since 1983, when UCLA beat UA 111-58.
“Defensively we couldn’t do anything,” Hill said. “We tried to pick it up as the game kept going but we couldn’t do nothing. We tried.”
It was hardly enough, as the lead stretched to 41 late in the game.
“Obviously our team played fabulous, unselfish basketball,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
Chase Budinger led UA with 22 points. Hill had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Five Cardinals scored in double figures, with Earl Clark leading the way with 19.
Even the simple shots didn’t fall for Arizona. By the time Louisville had a 90-56 lead, it took UA five shots on one possession to get the ball to fall.
It was that ugly for UA, as the Wildcats suffered their worst NCAA Tournament loss ever.
Whether it was a 3-pointer by some Cardinal or an athletic move to the basket, Louisville looked flawless. And Arizona looked helpless.
The Cardinals hit 14 of 29 three-pointers and 57.6 percent of its shots.
“They hit the three-ball right out of the chute,” associate head coach Mike Dunlap said. “The biggest mark for me was that they played above (the rim) with rebounding.
“And Jordan Hill didn’t have one of his better games. Chase moved in and out of the game and Nic was fine. After that, it was a little hodgepodge.”
Arizona loses to Louisville
Arizona loses to Louisville 103-64
Arizona played Louisville in the third round of the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon. The UA lost 103-64. Fans gathered at Sam Hughes’ Place Championship Dining, 446 N. Campbell Ave., to watch the game.
Producer: VAL CANEZ/Tucson Citizen
Louisville went on a 14-2 run late in the first half to pull away from Arizona for good.
By the numbers
8: offensive rebounds by UA’s Jordan Hill
10: steals by the Cardinals
14: three-pointers by Louisville
22: points by UA’s Chase Budinger, the most for either team
57.6: field-goal percentage by Louisville
103: points by Louisville, the most it has ever scored in the NCAA Tournament > UA’s juniors will take some time before thinking about NBA
> Dunlap enjoyed his season as a UA assistant, but knows it’s time to go
> Notebook: Internet writer blasts Cats for performance
> UA-Louisville box score