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Johnson’s late block keeps Arizona perfect

December 26, 2012
The Maui News

HONOLULU (AP) - Arizona is off to its best start in 25 years, thanks to a defensive play that no one saw coming - except for Nick Johnson.

San Diego State guard Chase Tapley curled around a screen and burst down the left side of the lane in the closing seconds for what looked to be an uncontested layup. Johnson raced across and swatted the ball away, preserving the No. 3 Wildcats' 68-67 win over the 17th-ranked Aztecs in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday night.

"My instincts took over," Johnson said.

Article Photos

San Diego State’s Chase Tapley is about to be blocked by Nick Johnson in the closing seconds of Arizona’s 68-67 victory.
AP photo

Mark Lyons drove to the basket on Arizona's final possession and was fouled, making two free throws with 13 seconds left for the final points of the game. Arizona (12-0) goes into Pac-12 Conference play with its best start since the 1987-88 season.

Solomon Hill, voted the tournament MVP, kept Arizona in the game with 21 points.

Tapley led San Diego State (11-2) with 19 points.

"It hurts," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "It's hard when you have a chance to win a championship, have a shot to beat an undefeated team, and you don't quite get it done, and you think you're going to do it right until the very last play of the game."

* INDIANA STATE 57, MIAMI 55, OT: Jake Odum banked in a 15-footer with eight-tenths of a second left in overtime to rally the Sycamores (7-4) over the Hurricanes (8-3) in the third-place game.

* SAN FRANCISCO 67, EAST TENNESSEE STATE I 49: Cole Dickerson scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and the Dons (6-6) beat the Buccaneers (2-10) in the seventh-place game.



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