Arizona avenged one heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss. One more win, and the Wildcats will get a chance to make up for another one.
Gabe York made five three-pointers and finished with 19 points, T.J. McConnell turned in a terrific all-around performance, and second-seeded Arizona advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year with a 73-58 victory over Ohio State on Saturday in Portland, Ore.
"We won our way," Arizona coach Sean Miller said, proudly.
McConnell had 19 points, six assists, six rebounds, and five steals to help the second-seeded Wildcats (33-3) overcome a sluggish start.
The Pac-12 champions went ahead by 15 points with 6:34 remaining before holding off No. 10 seed Ohio State (24-11), which eliminated Arizona in the regional semifinals two years ago. Next up for the Wildcats is sixth-seeded Xavier, where Miller was the head coach from 2004-09, in the West Regional semifinals Thursday in Los Angeles.
They also remain on track for a rematch against Wisconsin in the regional final. The Big Ten champion Badgers, who ousted Arizona in an overtime thriller in last year's regional final, are the top seed in the West.
The Buckeyes gave the Wildcats all they could handle, even with standout freshman and likely NBA lottery pick D'Angelo Russell struggling with his shot. Russell scored nine points and made just 3 of 19 shots after going for 28 points in Ohio State's overtime win over VCU in its tournament opener.
Russell also had seven rebounds and six assists in what was probably his final collegiate game. He wore a bandage to cover the five stitches he received above his left eye after taking an elbow in Thursday's game. "I would say they played great D on a few of them, but a lot of them were great shots. I just missed," Russell said.
Sam Thompson added 18 points and Shannon Scott scored 10 for the Buckeyes, who led by six points in the first half but never could match Arizona's size. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 43-26.
It was sweet redemption for the Wildcats and Miller, who lost on a last-second shot to Ohio State in 2013. And it was the first time in three tries that Miller beat close friend and Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who also handed Miller's Xavier team a last-second defeat in the 2007 tournament.
Russell declined to say whether he will declare for the NBA draft, as most expect him to do.
He said his poor shooting performance will have no impact on his decision, either.
"I wouldn't say it's an individual factor, missing shots or feeling like, 'Oh, I lost to Arizona, I've got to get back at 'em,' " he said. "I don't see anything like that."
North Carolina 87, Arkansas 78 - Marcus Paige scored 22 points, including 20 in the second half, and the Tar Heels beat the Razorbacks in Jacksonville, Fla., to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.
Paige missed seven of eight shots in the first half, including all three from three-point range, and was pretty much a non-factor as the Tar Heels let the Razorbacks keep things close.
But the junior guard took over in the second half, scoring 13 of his team's 17 points during a 5-minute stretch that helped North Carolina build a double-digit lead. The Tar Heels held on from there, thanks partly to Paige closing things out from the free-throw line and with his ball-handling skills.
Michael Qualls led Arkansas with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Bobby Portis finished with 18 points and 14 boards.
Xavier 75, Georgia State 67 - Xavier blocked out all the chatter of a nation pulling for underdog Georgia State and ended the biggest feel-good story of the NCAA tournament.
Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis came off the bench to combine for 38 points, helping the sixth-seeded Musketeers beat the 14th-seeded Panthers in Jacksonville, Fla.
Xavier (23-13) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in six years under Chris Mack. They'll face No. 2 seed Arizona in the West Regional semifinals in Los Angeles.
Georgia State (25-10), whose injured coach Ron Hunter led his team while working the sideline in a rolling chair, became the darlings of the tourney with an improbable comeback that eliminated No. 3 seed Baylor.
Hunter was already a big story after tearing his left Achilles tendon celebrating his team winning the Sun Belt Conference title.
He then enjoyed a father-son moment he'll always cherish after R.J. Hunter won the game with a 30-foot shot that earned the Panthers a game against Xavier.