HARTFORD, Conn. — Brandon Randolph scored 20 points and led the Arizona Wildcats at the line by hitting 9 of 9 free throws in a 76-72 win over UConn on Sunday at the XL Center.
The Wildcats didn’t score a field goal over the last 6:43 of the game but held on by hitting 12 of 13 free throws during that span.
Randolph led Arizona hit all three free throws he took when fouled beyond the 3-point line with 1:27 left, while Chase Jeter had 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 43.8 percent from the field despite making only 3 of 17 3-pointers but matched UConn's 32 rebounds.
The win moved Arizona to 6-2, giving the Wildcats their 10th win in their last 11th nonconference road games. UConn dropped to 6-2.
The game entered the final minutes with Arizona hanging on to just a 69-67 lead after a 3-pointer from UConn’s Tyler Polley with 1:09 to go. Ryan Luther picked up a foul with 43 seconds left when he faked and then drove the baseline, hitting both ensuing free throws to make it 71-67.
UConn’s Christian Vital then hit two free throws with 35.6 seconds left to pull UConn back within two and, when Luther made it back to the line, his first shot clanked off the front of the rim before making the second. That put UA ahead 72-69 and Jalen Adams made 1 of 2 on the other end to cut it to 72-20.
The Huskies then fouled and Randolph hit both free throws with 13.7 seconds left, and Adams raced downcourt for a layup that cut it to two yet again. But Brandon Williams hit a final two pair of free throws with four seconds left to seal UA's win.
That left some happy "U of A" cheers at the upper corner of the XL Center, which had about 1,000 UA fans among the announced crowd of 14,503.
Leading 42-38 at halftime, Arizona stayed ahead mostly by one possession until the midway point of the second half, when Brandon Williams made a layup, then blocked Alterique Gilbert on the other end and Brandon Randolph took it downcourt for a layup that made it 62-54.
UConn missed six of seven shots during that time while Arizona went on to take a 64-57 lead on a layup by Dylan Smith with 6:43 to go.
In the first half, Arizona scored 26 points in the paint to take a 42-38 lead.
Dylan Smith led the Wildcats with eight points after hitting 2 of 4 3-pointers, but the Wildcats scored 26 of their points in the paint, shooting 51.5 percent overall despite going just 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
UConn shot 53.3 percent, with guard Jalen Adams leading the Huskies with 14 points. But the Wildcats tied the Huskies in rebounding at 16, despite offensive rebounding being one of UConn's strengths.
The Wildcats went on a 14-6 run toward the end of the first half, getting two 3-pointers from Dylan Smith within 32 seconds to take a 40-33 lead wit 3:24 left. At that point, the Wildcats were shooing 61.5 percent from the field and had given up only the three offensive rebounds to the Huskies, who entered the game with the 21st best percentage of converting offensive rebounding opportunities.
Arizona built a 16-10 early lead by hitting 54 percent of its shots from the field over the first eight minutes of the game, while neither team shot well from outside.
But the Huskies and their near-sellout crowd at the XL Center warmed up, with fans delighting in an offensive foul against Brandon Williams with the Wildcats leading just 20-19. Then, a 3-pointer from Sidney Wilson gave UConn a 22-20 lead before the Wildcats later took leads of up to seven points.
It was the first hostile crowd the Wildcats have faced this season, though Iowa State fans dominated the first round of their Maui Invitational appearance.