“It’s not as easy just to go to the free-throw line on an away court and deliver,” said coach Sean Miller. “And it wasn’t just one guy, it was numerous players.”
Arizona led for more than 36 minutes, but was up just 42-38 at the half.
The Wildcats extended that to eight points on a fast-break layup by Randolph with just over eight minutes to play.
But UConn chipped away, cutting the lead to two points several times in the final minutes, including at 74-72 on a driving layup by Jalen Adams with eight seconds remaining. But Arizona was able to inbound the ball and Brandon Williams sealed the game from the foul line.
“It just tells us that we can fight through adversity and stay together,” said Randolph. “We’re going to make our shots eventually, but those free throws were big.”
Adams had 21 points to lead the Huskies (6-2). Eric Cobb added 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
“We were supposed to win this game,” coach Dan Hurley said. “Brandon Williams, Brandon Randolph and (Justin) Coleman had 32 points combined. We felt if we kept them under 35, they had no chance of winning. This was a mistake game. You’ve got to eliminate the mistakes.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Arizona: Sean Miller is now 8-0 against the Hurley brothers. He is 6-0 against Dan’s brother Bob, who coaches Arizona State. He also beat Dan’s Rhode Island team in 2013.
UConn: The Huskies could be getting some help in the frontcourt, though not this season. Prized recruit Akok Akok announced on Twitter that he has committed to the school, but told reporters during the game that there is still a chance he could declare for the NBA draft. The 6-foot-9 forward plans to enroll for the spring semester and join the basketball team as a walk-on. He is expected to practice with the team, but would not suit up for the Huskies until next season. UConn already has commitments from two highly rated guards for the Class of 2019, James Bouknight and Jalen Gaffney.
Arizona forced 19 UConn turnovers, many on charging fouls, while giving the ball away 14 times. The Wildcats have been improving in that department. They had 19 turnovers in their loss to Auburn, but just six last week against Georgia Southern.
Arizona has now made round-trips to Hawaii and Connecticut and next week will travel to Alabama. Jeter says it’s given a young team, which had to replace five starters from a year ago, a chance to spend a lot of time together and bond.
“It’s always about building chemistry,” said Jeter. “The more time we spend with each other, the closer we grow.”
Arizona: The Wildcats head back home to face Utah Valley on Thursday before flying east again to face the Crimson Tide next Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies are back at the XL Center on Wednesday for a game against Lafayette.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25