Josh Green scored 15 points and fellow freshman Nico Mannion had a big dunk late in the game as No. 14 Arizona fought off pesky South Dakota State 71-64 on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz.
Mannion scored 14 points. Another Arizona freshman, Zeke Nnaji, scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
The Wildcats (5-0) trailed by 10 in the first half and were up by seven late in the game when Mannion put the exclamation on the victory with a one-handed dunk down the lane for a 65-56 lead with 1:03 left.
Douglas Wilson led the Jackrabbits (4-3) with 15 points, although he was limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble. Brandon Key scored 13, while Matt Dentlinger added 11 points and five rebounds.
Nnaji, a power forward, entered averaging 21.0 points per game but didn’t even take a shot in the first half, when he was limited by foul trouble. Nnaji missed his first shot attempt with 15:31 to go, ending a streak of 17 consecutive made field goal attempts over two-plus games. He fouled out with 3:10 remaining.
Green added three steals. Mannion had four assists.
The Wildcats didn’t help themselves by shooting 17.6 percent (3 of 17) from 3-point range.
Arizona unexpectedly had its hands full from the start as South Dakota State led for about 19 consecutive minutes — and went up by 10 on three occasions in the first half — before Green’s jumper put Arizona up 40-39 with 14:28 left.
Jemarl Baker hit a driving layup on Arizona’s next possession and followed with a half-court lead pass to Ira Lee for a dunk. Lee’s layup with 11:51 to go capped a 12-0 run for a 46-39 lead.
The Jackrabbits were still within four points with 5:38 to go but could get no closer.
The Wildcats finished the first half on a 9-2 run to close within 32-29 at the break, when they had 12 turnovers. They finished with 15. South Dakota State turned the ball over 21 times.
—Field Level Media