Princeton shocks Arizona, pulls off late run for biggest March Madness upset thus far
The No. 15 Princeton Tigers roared late in the second half to pull off the largest upset of March Madness thus far, taking down No. 2 University of Arizona Wildcats, 59-55.
The Tigers strung together a 9-0 run at the end of the second half to come from behind and take down the Wildcats, who were simply stunned that the final buzzer didn’t see them moving on in the NCAA Tournament.
This is Princeton’s first NCAA Tournament win in 25 years; the last one came against UNLV in 1998. Tigers head coach Mitch Henderson was on that Princeton squad, so the full-circle moment was there when his team celebrated with him on the court.
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Tosan Evbuomwan #20 of the Princeton Tigers fouls Pelle Larsson #3 of the Arizona Wildcats during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
It also continued a New Jersey trend, which began last year.
Saint Peter’s University out of Jersey City played as the No. 15 seed and shocked the tournament by defeating John Calipari’s No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats. Coincidentally, the Wildcat is the same mascot for Arizona.
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Arizona, the Pac-12 Tournament winner and a favorite by many to win the entire thing, including President Joe Biden, was held scoreless in the final 4:21 of the game. That allowed Princeton the opportunity to capitalize, and they certainly didn’t pass it up.
It was a full team effort for the Tigers, as seven different players contributed in the points column. But Tosan Evbuomwan, the Britain native who is the team’s leading scorer, poured in 15 (his season average) over 36 minutes of play to lead the way.
Evbuomwan finished with seven rebounds and four assists as well.
Blake Peters, the Tigers’ sophomore guard who came off the bench, delivered nine points and three rebounds.
Kerr Kriisa #25 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts to a play against the Princeton Tigers during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
It wasn’t the best basketball Princeton has played either, which makes the loss look that much worse for the Wildcats. The Tigers shot 4 of 25 from beyond the arc, but Arizona only shot 3 of 16 themselves.
Princeton also had a slightly better margin in the turnover department with 11 to Arizona’s 13.
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Arizona’s top scorer, Azuolas Tubelis, had 22 points to lead the game, but he wasn’t able to come in clutch during that drought at the end of the game. Princeton used double teams and cunning defense to make sure the Wildcats stayed off the board.
Riding high on their victory, Princeton will see if they can match Saint Peter’s, which won its Second Round matchup as well as their Sweet 16 game.
Blake Peters #24 of the Princeton Tigers celebrates a three point basket against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Tigers will face the No. 7 Missouri Tigers on Saturday.