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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Path to the Sweet 16

Path to the Sweet 16

Hang with anyone: Kansas — Nov. 27, 2010

Ranked No. 6 in the country at the time, Kansas faced Arizona in Las Vegas, Nev., and the Wildcats — untested up to that point — didn’t know if the they could handle the talent of the Jayhawks and twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris.

To everyone’s surprise, the Wildcats held strong behind Derrick Williams’ 27 points and eight rebounds before they fell 87-79 in a competitive game.

The game was viewed as Williams’ national coming-out party, and, in general, it gave Williams and his team the belief that they were no longer the young 16-15 squad from a season ago.

Reality check: BYU — Dec. 11, 2010

Sean Miller didn’t want to play Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and after last year’s Cougar blowout in McKale Center that saw guard Jimmer Fredette drop 49 on the Wildcats, he had good reason.

So Arizona traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah., at a neutral site, but it might as well have been at home for the Cougars. BYU blew out the Wildcats 87-65, and it was essentially over in the first half. The loss signaled to Miller’s young team that playing timid would lead to embarrassment. Just showing up wouldn’t cut it.

In essence, the BYU game was a hubris check after the Wildcats competed well with Kansas two weeks earlier.

Series of the year: The humbling Huskies

Washington romped all over the Wildcats during the final five minutes in the teams’ first meeting in Seattle, the 17-point loss on Jan. 20 considered the turning point of the season in terms of maturity.

Then, weeks later, there was forward Derrick Williams’ final-second block, where the Wildcats exacted revenge to win 87-86 in Tucson on Feb. 19.

And in the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament title game on March 12, the Wildcats learned the pain of heartbreak, as Isaiah Thomas lifted Washington on a buzzer-beater that gave players the losing feeling they never wanted to have again. Since then, they’ve avoided a loss.

Rock bottom: Los Angeles trip

On Feb. 24, ranked in the top 10 for the first time in the Sean Miller Era, the Wildcats were sent back down to earth in a 65-57 loss to the Southern California Trojans in Los Angeles.

They said it was a good thing, a reminder they couldn’t lose focus due to rankings and achievements.

But two days later, against UCLA in the last game at the old Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins drubbed Arizona in a 71-49 rout that left a huge question mark on the Wildcats’ season.

Clutch game:Three OTs in Berkeley — Feb. 5

Their star player fouling out in regulation, the Wildcats didn’t take a step back, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to sweep the California Golden Bears on the season in the 107-105 triple-overtime victory on the road.

As usual, it was the two New York kids, forward Kevin Parrom and point guard Momo Jones, hitting all the big shots.

Jones connected on a 3-point play to take the game into the first overtime, hit on a 3-pointer to again tie it at the end of the second overtime then scored on the go-ahead lay-up for the win.

They’re back: Texas — March 20

Culminating everything good and bad that’s happened to them, the Wildcats jumped out to a 36-25 halftime lead with stifling defense against the Longhorns in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

After the Longhorns rallied, Arizona clamped down to force a five-second inbounds call with 14 seconds to play, and forward Derrick Williams completed a three-point play at the foul stripe to give Arizona a 70-69 win.

That put UA in the Sweet 16, and it was also the first signature win for Sean Miller at Arizona.

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