No. 15 Princeton shocks No. 2 Arizona in 58-55 win

No. 15 Princeton shocked No. 2 Arizona with a 59-55 first-round victory on Thursday.

Caden Pierce hit two free throws with 17 seconds to go up three and Tosan Evbuonwan made a free throw with three seconds left to ice the game for the Tigers. Both Courtney Ramey and Kerr Kriisa missed game-tying threes for the Wildcats in between the trips to the line as Arizona was in the midst of an incredibly long scoring drought.

It’s the third consecutive year a No. 15 seed has knocked off a No. 2 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament. St. Peter’s defeated Kentucky in 2022 during its improbable NCAA tournament run and Oral Roberts defeated Ohio State in the 2021 tournament.

Ramey gave Arizona a 49-39 lead with 11 minutes to go in the game and it appeared the Wildcats could keep Princeton at bay for the win. That assumption, however, was based on the belief that Arizona could continue to make baskets at a decent rate.

That didn’t happen. The Wildcats scored just six points in the final 11 minutes of the game and committed six turnovers. All three of the baskets in the final 11 minutes were layups. Arizona went cold from anywhere outside the lane and allowed Princeton to claw its way back into the game.

Princeton didn’t shoot the ball well either. The customary formula for an upset in the NCAA tournament is for the lower-seeded team to shoot well from three. Princeton was just 4-of-25 from behind the arc. That fourth three came from Blake Peters with 6:29 to go and cut Arizona’s lead to 51-48.

Princeton took the lead for the first time all game with 2:03 to go when Ryan Langborg scored on a drive to the basket. That basket was bookended by Arizona turnovers. Azuolas Tubelis was stripped to set up Langborg’s go-ahead two and then Kriisa turned the ball over after a jump ball.

Arizona had six chances to take the lead in the final two minutes. The Wildcats missed five shots and committed two turnovers.