It took a balanced performance by fourth-ranked Arizona to offset the one-man show that Providence’s Eric Murdock put on Sunday in Tucson.
Despite a McKale Center-record 45 points by Murdock, the Wildcats pulled out a 99-87 victory to go to 8-1 for the season and extend their nation-leading home winning streak to 52 games. Providence is 7-2.
Providence Coach Rick Barnes said the game made two things obvious.
“One of them,” he said, “is that Arizona’s basketball team is certainly one of the best teams in the country. Another is that Eric Murdock proved why he’s one of the best players in the country.
“I wouldn’t trade him for any player in the country. He was the one guy who thought we could win this game.”
Arizona Coach Lute Olson called Murdock “as good a guard as I’ve seen since I’ve been out here. What’s significant about him is that he plays well at both ends of the court. He’s constantly a threat on defense. Even when we thought we had good pressure on him, he still was able to knock them down.”
Murdock, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, scored 19 points in the final 9:45. He pulled the smaller Friars within 88-81 with 2:19 left on a jump shot for his 44th point. It came during a 10-0 Providence run that cut Arizona’s lead to 88-85.
With 1:06 left, he made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 89-86.
But with 36 seconds left and Providence trailing 93-87, Murdock dribbled the ball off his foot.
Chris Mills finished with 28 points for Arizona, Matt Muehlebach had 18, Sean Rooks 14 and Brian Williams 12.
Murdock broke the McKale Center record of 41 points set by Arizona’s Al Fleming in 1976 against Detroit. Murdock had four three-pointers among his 14 baskets.
The game was the third and last Providence would play without starting point guard Corey Floyd and reserves Marvin Saddler and Kenny McDonald, who were suspended by the NCAA for one game and the school for two more for their part in a brawl against Rhode Island on Dec. 8.
No. 15 Connecticut 94, Fairfield 70--Scott Burrell scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Huskies found their outside shooting touch at Hartford, Conn.
The Huskies (6-1) played without Coach Jim Calhoun, who was hospitalized with flu symptoms. Assistant Howie Dickenman ran the team.
Connecticut put the game out of reach with a 13-3 run in the second half, capped by Chris Smith’s three-pointer that made it 62-42.
The Huskies have had trouble from three-point range (25.4%) and the foul line (52.5%) this season, but they improved in those areas against the Stags. Connecticut hit six of nine from three-point range and 22 of 34 free throws.
Stevie Wise scored 29 points, including eight in a crucial 15-4 run in the second half, to lead Colorado (6-3) to an 89-79 nonconference victory over Stanford (6-2) at Boulder, Colo. Colorado hit six free throws in the final 1:18 to seal the victory. Adam Keefe led Stanford with 20 points. . . . Maurice Alexander scored 21 points and Paris Bryant added 20 to lead Wyoming (7-1) to a 98-84 victory over Sam Houston State (1-9) at Huntsville, Tex. . . . Mike Iuczolino scored 30 points to lead St. Francis, Pa., (5-4) to an 82-71 victory over Virginia Commonwealth (4-5) at the Chaminade Kauai Classic at Kapaa, Hawaii. In the other game, Stan Rose and Elbert Rogers scored 17 points apiece and Alabama-Birmingham (7-3) used a 28-0 first half run to beat Chaminade, 87-60. Chaminade is 3-6.
Guard Mark Haughton scored a season-high 23 points and forward Mark Murray added 18 points to lead Delaware (2-6) to an 81-76 victory over visiting Maine (4-5).