Bucknell beats Arizona 65-54 in NIT opener
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Mike Muscala had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Bucknell to a 65-54 win over Arizona on Wednesday night in the opening round of the NIT.
Joe Willman had 15 points and Bryson Johnson added 14 for Bucknell (25-9), which dominated from the opening tip.
"Going into tonight's game I was confident," said Muscala. "I made sure to tell the others to be confident as well. Coach prepared our team for tonight by making sure he kept our team calm and composed."
Bucknell held Arizona in check, leading by as many as 13 in the first half. The Wildcats briefly took at two-point lead in the second half, but Bucknell held Arizona to 35 percent shooting for the game.
"The bar is set high and we relish those expectations, we didn't want any moral victories," said Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen.
The Wildcats never appeared fully ready to play, which coach Sean Miller attributed to coming off a disappointing loss in the Pac 12 championship game.
"I don't know if we entered today's game not really over the Pac 12 tournament, and if you don't put that behind you, you will lose to a really good team, and that's what happened tonight," said Miller.
Arizona, which fell to 0-4 all-time in the tournament, hadn't made an appearance in the NIT since 1951.
"The NIT should have been an opportunity that we looked forward to," said junior Solomon Hill. "Preparation going into the game didn't go as well and smooth as it should have. It happens. There is good competition out there. We had all the chance, it just didn't come down our way."
Updated March 15, 2012