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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A look at the final minutes

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats mens basketball team took on the Memphis Tigers in second round action of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 18 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. At the half, the Wildcats lead 41-38.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team took on the Memphis Tigers in second round action of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 18 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. At the half, the Wildcats lead 41-38.

TULSA, Okla – Secure victories and pretty basketball haven’t been in the realm of describing head coach Sean Miller’s Wildcats all season long.

Their 77-75 win over former Arizona coach Josh Pastner’s Memphis Tigers was much of the same. It was an ugly brand of basketball, but by advancing to play Texas on Sunday, Arizona (28-7) players said they’ll take it.

“”We stepped up at the end and made some big plays,”” Miller said. “”Many times in this tournament that’s what’s required. It’s not the style points that you get, but it’s being able to finish the job.””

Having Derrick Williams doesn’t hurt either. The forward made a potentially game-saving block with seconds left and a slim two-point lead. He finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but there were several other factors that laid out Arizona’s path to victory.

Most of those highlights came down to clutch plays by Arizona, who fell behind by as many as 10 in the first half.

“”That just shows who we are, that just shows our maturity,”” said senior Jamelle Horne, who had nine points, three assists and four rebounds. “”To be on the stage like this with the young guys that we have and to come back and and fight, make big stops, big shots, that’s who we are. “”

Here’s a look at the keys to the Wildcats’ victory that came down to the final minute.


The Block Part II

It was not a replay from Feb. 19. Arizona wasn’t playing Washington, and Williams wasn’t swatting the ball into the McKale Center stands.

But yeah, that was Williams — dubbed Superman by teammate Kevin Parrom — there again was a fraction of a second left and that would be the game-clincher-of-a-block. Holding a 77-75 lead that would be the final score, Williams made his second game-saving block on the year, this time advancing to play Texas in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

With only seconds remaining and Memphis guard Joe Jackson missing a free throw, an offensive rebound was tipped to Tiger forward Wesley Witherspoon. With no time for a shot-fake, Witherspoon released a short hook shot from the left side of the key, and there came Williams.

“”I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left on the clock,”” the UA forward said. “”(Memphis forward) Will Coleman tipped it to Wesley (Witherspoon), my man, so I had to come from the weak side again, and try to make a play on the ball. Luckily I did.

“”If we didn’t get the block,”” he added, “”we’d be on our way home already.””

But was it a foul? Witherspoon thought so, but Miller and Williams say they go with the mindset of going hard after balls on the final plays because officials are often extremely hesitant to call the foul and make the game’s outcome fall on their shoulders.

“”You could say I got fouled,”” Witherspoon said, “”you could say I wasn’t.””

As it was called, the block kept the ball in play and Horne corralled the ball in the corner. He was fouled with 0.4 seconds left and missed both free throws to keep the final score two points in Arizona’s favor.

“”It was good that we were there before,”” Horne said. “”Literally I saw a free throw go up, boxed my man out, I think it got tipped around a few times. Somehow Wesley got it. Somehow D-Will came out of nowhere, man.””


UA wins free-throw battle, wins with odd backcourt

Both the Tigers and the Wildcats were aggressive in the paint and in transition. While Memphis held a slight advantage in paint points, 38-36, Arizona won out in the fastbreak points, 10-8. So it came down to foul trouble and free throws.

Arizona hit 26-for-31 of its free throws while Memphis fizzled down the stretch to shoot 17-for-24, a 71 percent clip.

“”It was all about who made the most free throws,”” forward Solomon Hill said of the Tigers. “”Their big guy, (Will) Coleman, got to the line, couldn’t knock down a couple. That probably cost them in the end.””

Despite the misses, Memphis earned opportunities off Arizona’s foul trouble as well. Guard Kyle Fogg and forward Kevin Parrom both found themselves foul trouble during the second half with Parrom fouling out with 4:47 to play.

That caused Miller to go with a two point guard backcourt. It didn’t end up hurting Arizona either.

Sophomore Momo Jones finished with 18 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:36 to give Arizona a 71-68 lead.

On the next play, the Wildcats avoided a Memphis score and Mayes was fouled while driving to the hoop with 53 seconds left in the game. He ended the afternoon with eight points.

Mayes hit two key free throws before Jones made two critical free throws for the final UA points of the game. Without Parrom and Fogg, two of the team’s best defenders, no problem.

“”One of the reasons that we won, and a big reason, is that Jordin played a position that he’s never played in 35 games,”” Miller said. “”And Momo and him together I would say played six key minutes in the second half.””


Ugly inbound plays good enough

Like the Pac-10 Title game against Washington, the Wildcats again struggled with inbounds plays when facing full-court pressure.

Miller has been practicing those situations a lot over the past week. Still, it was a cause for concern Friday.

“”(That was) probably the most stressful part of the game,”” Jones said. “”You got to get the ball in. Once you get the ball in, it’s fine. They kind of sent three people at me. It’s kind of like, ‘whoa.'””

Luckily for the Wildcats, they got the ball inbounded just enough to draw fouls and follow through at the free throw line. But it’ll likely be another point of emphasis from here on out after Hill threw the ball away with 17 seconds left, leading to a Memphis lay-up that brought the Tigers within one point, at 75-74.

“”I can only pass the ball in,”” Hill said. “”Those guys have to talk. Run the play. You could see that (Memphis) had three guards in the front line guarding two people. It’s just the two guys in the back (for Arizona) that have to talk.

“”I’m not able to just throw in the ball and have you stand there,’ he added. “”People have to come get the ball.””

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