TUCSON — Before Sunday's nonconference game against unbeaten Arizona, Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick said he thought his players would do well, or get a lesson.
The Waves played well--in spurts, especially in the second half--but still lost, 73-68, before 13,216 fans at McKale Center.
They played Arizona (5-0), ranked ninth by the Associated Press, about even in the first half until Steve Kerr went to work outside, making three three-point shots without a miss.
The last of Kerr's three-pointers gave the Wildcats a 25-18 lead with 9:16 left in the first half. But Tom Tolbert's 13 first-half points, all from inside, did more long-term damage, helping Arizona to a 43-31 lead at the half.
In the second half, Tolbert was held without a field goal by Pepperdine's Levy Middlebrooks and Dexter Howard, but Tolbert still finished with a team-high 17 points.
Since Tolbert wasn't scoring, and Kerr missed his only three-point attempt of the second half Pepperdine (3-1) started getting back in the game, despite foul trouble.
Pepperdine's Craig Davis, who had made only one three-point shot in the first half, made three more in the second half en route to a game-high 20 points.
And Middlebrooks, who had only two points in the first half, began making some of the open shots he had been missing in the first half. His basket cut Arizona's lead to 71-68 with 27 seconds left.
But Middlebrooks, who scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds, fouled out with 12 seconds to play, and Tolbert made both ends of a one-and-one for the final margin of victory.
The game also featured something of a standoff between Pepperdine's Tom Lewis and Arizona's Sean Elliott.
Lewis scored 17 points to Elliott's 13 and made 5 of 6 free throws to 6 of 6 for his counterpart.
Harrick said that Elliott is "a really great player" and that Lewis "has a chance to be."
He said that he thought the turning point came when a foul was called on Pepperdine's Marty Wilson when Wilson was trying to make a steal late in the game.
"I thought he (Wilson) stole the ball at midcourt, but they called the foul on him and he fouled out with 1:24 left," Harrick said.
Arizona may have let the Waves get back in the game when it went to a delay with nearly four minutes remaining, leading, 68-59.
The Waves outscored Arizona, 9-5, in the last four minutes.
Arizona Coach Lute Olson blamed himself for going into a delay too soon. "I thought we spread it out too early," he said, "Once you spread it out, it's difficult to regain the momentum you had."
Arizona shot only 41.3% from the field, and Olson credited Pepperdine's defense for that.
Said Harrick: "I did not think we played particularly well, but we competed and were in there at the end. . . . I did not think we shot very well (39.4%), especially Levy Middlebrooks."
Middlebrooks was 5 fo 17 from the floor.