Aided by Bennedict Mathurin's 'clutch gene,' 1-seed Arizona staves off upset bid from 9-seed TCU in OT

SAN DIEGO -- Even as the game appeared to be falling out of No. 1-seeded Arizona's grasp, coach Tommy Lloyd maintains he never lost faith.

"I know this," he said, "I believed the whole time."

His team gave him plenty of opportunities down the stretch of its 85-80 overtime win against 9-seed TCU where it might have seemed logical not to. In the end, Arizona made the necessary plays in the game's biggest moments to secure a trip to the Sweet 16.

With 7:52 remaining in Sunday night's second-round matchup, Arizona (33-3) was in control, leading 67-58 and appearing to have the game locked up. However, the Wildcats went cold from the field, and TCU took advantage, going on a 12-0 run over the next 3:39 to swing momentum in its favor.

Perhaps more pivotal than Arizona's poor shooting during that stretch was its defensive rebounding. TCU (21-13) had 10 of its 20 offensive rebounds in the game's final 7:31. The last one came with 40 seconds left in regulation, when Eddie Lampkin brought down a Damion Baugh miss and scored a putback to give TCU a 75-72 lead with 37 seconds to play.

"They were backbreakers down the end," Lloyd said. "Listen, offensive rebounding is a staple of their program -- and it's ours too. But they're really good at it. Sometimes when you get down, like they did, you get maybe a little desperate, and you go harder."

It was a deficiency that will come even more into focus this week as the Wildcats prepare to face No. 5 seed Houston (31-5) -- arguably the best offensive rebounding team in the country -- in Thursday's South Region semifinals in San Antonio.

Following Lampkin's bucket, Arizona answered with a deep 3 from Bennedict Mathurin, the Pac-12 player of the year.

"Ben's not afraid of the moment," Lloyd said. "He's a special player who has an ability to rise it up another level when needed. And he has that clutch gene. I mean, I honestly felt really good when he had the ball in his hands there because I knew he was going to shoot a 3."

TCU had 12.9 seconds to set up a chance to win but didn't get a shot off after Arizona pressure forced a turnover with 3 seconds remaining. Dalen Terry's potential game-winning dunk didn't beat the clock for Arizona.

The turnover came after a bizarre sequence in which there were shouts for an over and back violation by TCU and a foul on Arizona.

TCU coach Jamie Dixon was unwilling to weigh in on how he thought the sequence should have been officiated.

"I think everyone's seen it, is talking about it," Dixon said. "We're going to handle it the right way, and that's what we discussed.

"We've got the best officials in the country working these games and that's the situation we're in."

TCU led briefly in overtime 77-76, but Arizona took the lead for good with 2:59 left on a Mathurin layup. After Arizona's Kerr Kriisa missed a 3, Mathurin was able to wrestle the ball away from TCU's Emanuel Miller in the paint and put it in to give the Wildcats an 83-80 lead with 1:11 remaining.

After getting the rebound and making the basket, Mathurin did a couple of fist pumps near the baseline.

"My coaches were getting on me for not getting enough rebounds. I was pretty happy about getting the offensive rebound,'' said Mathurin, who finished with 30 points and became the sixth Arizona player to score at least 30 in an NCAA tournament game. "So I just went out there and got the rebound, made it. And I was emotional.''

TCU's Chuck O'Bannon Jr., who had a career-high 23 points, missed a game-tying 3 on the next possession. A putback dunk from Christian Koloko, who scored 28 on the night, sealed the game for Arizona with 11 seconds left.

Mathurin and Koloko did enough for the Wildcats to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to fall during this tourney's second round.

"I mean, it was simple: It was win or go home," Koloko said. "That's not the first time we were down. We knew we had to keep playing our game. Coach trusted us and told us you've got to hang in there. That's what we did. We didn't panic. We played our game, and we came back."

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.