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Top-ranked Arizona survives with road win over Michigan

Dec 14, 2013, 2:34 PM EDT

Caris LeVert, T.J. McConnell. Gabe York AP

Arizona was down 58-50 on the road at Michigan with around six minutes left to play on Saturday and it looked for a little while like we would have our fourth No. 1 team of the new season with the way the game was going.

But the No. 1 Wildcats (11-0) remained patient and stuck to their strengths, and — for now — they’ll remain the No. 1 team in the land with a 72-70 win over Michigan (6-4). Despite the Wolverines leading for nearly the entire game, Sean Miller’s group finally took a 63-62 lead with 2:30 remaining on freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s three-point play and held off Michigan despite the Wolverines shooting 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point range (8-for-17).

Arizona stuck to their game plan, kept the tempo in their favor in a half-court style game in the second half, and wore down Michigan on the glass and on the interior. The Wildcats out-rebounded Michigan 37-24 and the Wolverines didn’t have an offensive rebound in the the second half until Mitch McGary pulled one down with 2:01 remaining as Arizona used 17 offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and stay in the game until they clawed back.

A balanced scoring effort led Arizona as sophomore forward Brandon Ashley led with 18 points while Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon all chipped in 14 points each. Arizona will have to find a little more perimeter shooting, only going 4-for-10 from three in a game where they could have used more early firepower, but they stuck to what they were good at, worked the ball inside, hit the glass and earned a tough road win at Michigan.

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