Maui, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - Kansas State gave the No. 2 team in the country all it could handle, but Arizona nevertheless pulled out a hard-fought 72-68 victory in the semifinal round of the Maui Invitational.
Kansas State had three chances to tie or take the lead down the stretch, and the underdogs came away empty each time.
Arizona (5-0) received 18 points from Kaleb Tarczewski, 15 from Gabe York and shot 63.2 percent from the field in the second half to advanced to Wednesday's championship game against San Diego State.
Marcus Foster paced Kansas State (3-2) with 23 points behind six 3-pointers.
Each of Arizona's first four wins came by at least 17 points, and even though it led for the final 12-plus minutes on Tuesday, the outcome was not decided until the closing minutes.
Foster drained a 3-pointer to pull Kansas State within 66-64 with 2:35 to go, and Nino Williams missed a potential tying jumper from the baseline the next time down.
Foster was whistled for traveling on a drive to the basket following a missed jumper by T.J. McConnell, who compounded the mistake by bricking the front end of a 1-and-1 with 59 seconds to play.
Williams got to the basket but his shot rimmed out, and Stanley Johnson made two free throws to give Arizona a 68-64 lead with 22.5 seconds remaining.
Arizona split a pair of trips at the free throw line to hold on from there.
Foster's 11 first-half points helped Kansas State keep pace with Arizona, which scored its first 16 points in the paint before Johnson hit a corner 3 to even things at 19-19.
Arizona went into the break holding a 31-30 lead despite its leading scorer, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, being held scoreless in the first 20 minutes.
The standout sophomore, who came in averaging nearly 16 ppg, threw down an alley-oop off an inbounds pass early in the second half and followed that up with a putback slam to put Arizona ahead, 40-36.
Kansas State responded with the next five points to retake the lead, but Tarczewski's reverse layup began a string of 10 straight Arizona points. McConnell and York each made 3-pointers to cap the run, and Arizona never trailed again.
Arizona ran its regular season winning streak against non-conference opponents to 32 ... Johnson netted 14 points with seven rebounds ... Hollis-Jefferson was limited to six points ... Arizona shot 53.3 percent overall ... There were five ties and 12 lead changes.