ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Arizona needed some validation to put behind that No. 1 ranking, and the Wildcats found it Saturday, winning a critical road test in the snowy Midwest.
Arizona came back from an 11-point deficit early in the second half to beat Michigan, 72-70, and move to 11-0 on the season.
"Anyone who lives on the West Coast knows how tough it is to come here," Arizona coach Sean Miller said after his team survived a flurry of lead changes in the closing minutes to get the victory.
"But you can't win a game like this unless you play the game. Part of what we want to do is to play away from home and play big teams, really good teams. Win or lose today, we're better because we did his."
The Wildcats were better, thanks to six free throws from Nick Johnson in the final 25 seconds, a 37-24 rebounding advantage, and a 14-of-15 performance from the free throw line.
Miller said that kind of clutch performance down the stretch, in front of a boisterous, sold-out Crisler Center crowd, was very valuable.
"This is as hostile an environment as you can be in, against a really good team from a great conference," Miller said. "You got the sense they were geared up and ready."
Michigan took its first double-digit lead of the game on the initial possession of the second half, but the Wildcats fashioned an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to 41-39 with 15:56 left.
The Wolverines answered with a run of their own and led, 47-41, after a three-point play by Caris Levert, but Arizona quickly cut the lead to a single point.
Michigan's Nik Stauskas stretched the edge to 58-50 with about seven minutes to play, as the Wildcats went over four minutes without a basket.
However, Arizona clawed back into the game and stayed within striking distance, using its muscle and might inside at critical junctures.
"Their offensive rebounding really hurt us," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "The ability of those guys to miss shots and get their own rebound, that's tough to overcome."
The Wildcats took their first lead since early in the game when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored on a fastbreak and completed the three-point play for a 63-62 Arizona lead with 2:32 left.
The teams swapped baskets and the lead, with Stauskas giving Michigan a 66-65 edge with a driving basket with a little under a minute left.
Johnson was fouled with 24.6 seconds to play and nailed both shots for the last of five lead changes in the closing two minutes of the game.
Johnson's two free throws with 9.1 seconds left gave Arizona a 69-66 lead, and after a Michigan free throw, Johnson hit two more with 6.1 to play for a 71-67 cushion.
Spike Albrecht's 3-pointer cut the lead to one with two seconds left, before Gabe York hit one of two free throws for Arizona before time ran out.
The Wildcats seemed to make the plays they needed to make in the frenetic closing moments.
"There at the end, it came down to the little things, the devil in the details, and all of those things are so critical in a game like this," Beilein said.
"We really needed to play a perfect game against Arizona. This could have been a great win, but experiences like this are going to make us better."
Brandon Ashley led Arizona with 18 points, while Johnson, Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski each had 14 for the Wildcats.
"This is a good win for us," said Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne who played 35 minutes and was credited by Miller with controlling the tempo down the stretch.
"My teammates were hitting shots, so my job is just to get them the ball."
Michigan (6-4) was led by Glenn Robinson III with 20 points, LeVert added 15 and Stauskas had 14.
In the early stages of the game, Michigan got the fast pace it wanted to maintain against the taller, longer Wildcats.
Fed by Arizona turnovers, and an early spell that had the Wildcats missing nine straight shots, Michigan led, 11-7, about eight minutes into the game.
After a basket inside from the 7-foot Tarczewski ended the drought and stopped a string of seven straight points by Michigan, the Wolverines put together another spurt and led, 18-12, with under 10 minutes left in the first half.
Michigan, one of the nation's youngest teams with four sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, built the early lead without the scoring of Stauskas, who came in averaging nearly 19 points per game.
Then Stauskas hit a 3-pointer from the corner, and backup point guard Albrecht quickly followed that with a deep 3-pointer from out front to give Michigan had a 28-20 lead with 4:30 left in the half.
The Wildcats scored six straight points, flexing their muscle inside. Robinson's 3-pointer triple led a Michigan flurry that had the Wolverines scoring the final seven points of the half for a 37-28 advantage.
Robinson went 7-of-7 from the field in the half, scoring 16 points.
NOTES: Michigan got four blocked shots and four rebounds from 6-10 Jon Horford, who came off the bench and played 17 minutes against the taller Wildcats. ... Arizona had 17 offensive rebounds in the game, while Michigan had only six. ... Arizona 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski injured his right leg midway through the second half and left the game, but later returned to the court. ... Michigan lost despite hitting 24-of-48 from the field and 8-of-17 from outside the arc (47.1 percent). ... Arizona had held its previous opponents to 27 percent shooting from 3-point range.