Minus its big man, Arizona's first defeat came in upset fashion.
It's uncertain if Kaleb Tarczewski will be available Sunday against Boise State in the third-place game of the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, and the No. 11 Wildcats struggled to beat the Broncos last week even with the 7-footer playing.
A four-year starter, Tarczewski had a season-high 12 points Thursday to open this tournament but injured his ankle in a 75-73 overtime win over Santa Clara. He sat out as Arizona fell 69-65 to Providence in Friday's semifinals.
Coach Sean Miller does not know when the senior will return but feels the injury is not long-term. Though Tarczewski is only fourth on the team with 8.6 points per game, his average of 7.2 rebounds is a career high and his experience is invaluable.
''It's definitely different out there without him,'' said 6-9 teammate Ryan Anderson, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds Friday. ''Our big guy unit is all about playing hard and crashing the glass. That's something we tried to do. Obviously, it helps to have Kaleb in there.''
The Wildcats (5-1) still outrebounded Providence 43-22 and owned a 26-8 advantage in second-chance points, but both teams scored 28 in the paint and Miller said they missed Tarczewski's presence late. The Friars finished on a 10-2 run.
"You can't just judge him on his statistics," Miller said. "His physicality, his presence, his ability to be in the right place at the right time constantly at the end of games. ... We will continue to miss him until he gets back."
Arizona hurt itself with a season-high 21 turnovers that turned into 26 points for Providence. The Wildcats committed 17 in their narrow victory a night earlier over a Santa Clara team which remains winless.
Miller wasn't necessarily surprised with Friday's outcome.
''I've never felt worse after a win (Thursday night),'' he said. ''After we watched the film a number of times, it became apparent that for whatever reason we showed up thinking we were much better than we really were.''
Arizona finds itself in some new territory after winning an early season tournament each of the past three years.
''You lose one, it's a different feeling,'' Miller said. ''We haven't experienced that in a long, long time.''
Gabe York has struggled in this event, shooting 7 of 27 from the field while averaging 10.5 points. The senior had scored 16.0 per game through the first four, including a career-high 23 points in an 88-76 home win over Boise State on Nov. 19.
The Wildcats trailed early in the second half and were leading by only four with under six minutes left before taking control in a game that was added as a regional contest for this event. Anderson had 15 rebounds and Tarczewski pulled down nine as the Wildcats held a 39-31 edge on the glass. Arizona shot 54.2 percent despite Anderson, who averages 17.0 points and 10.8 boards, going 4 for 13 from the field.
Even with Anderson and Tarczewski on the floor, 6-9 James Webb III had 27 points with nine boards and 6-8 Nick Duncan scored 21 for the Broncos (3-3). Boise shot 48.6 percent in the first half but 35.7 in the second.
The Broncos also put up a good fight against third-ranked Michigan State on Friday, getting within one point with 14 minutes left before falling 77-67.
''We can really go with these teams for 35 minutes, but we've got to play 40 minutes,'' said Duncan, who had 19 points.
Broncos leading scorer Anthony Drmic (16.8 ppg) was held to nine points Friday and against Arizona, shooting a combined 4 for 16.