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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“How to stop, or not stop, Derrick Williams”

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. The Wildcats held on for a 77-75 win.

TULSA, Okla. – It’s an obvious fact that Arizona’s Derrick Williams has come to expect – opposing defenses key upon him, the reason for the Wildcats facing so much zone defense and being such an accurate 3-point shooting team on the season.

On Friday, the sharp shooting wasn’t happening.

Arizona finished an ugly 5-for-19 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, a quirky Memphis defense tried to play mind games against the Wildcats and Williams.

“”They were going to try to take me out of the game just like Cal did,”” Williams said. “”They ran a box-and-1. I’ve never seen a box-and-1 on a big man before. So Coach (Sean Miller) is like, ‘stay in the corner and let the game come to you.'””

At times, the Tigers didn’t even use their big men on Williams in the box-and-1 defense. Shooting guard Charles Carmouche hovered around the UA forward, trying to impede his dribble if he did catch the ball.

And sometimes, they even went with a triangle-and-2 to keep Williams at bay. It helped limit his touches to a degree, but his 22 points came by shooting 6-for-11 from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 at the foul line.

“”Memphis did a good job of changing defenses,”” Miller said. “”I think it’s hard in the NCAA Tournament to play a box-and-1 or a triangle-and-2. So from that perspective, I like the shots that we took.””

The biggest of all was his only 3-point attempt with under four minutes to play, which broke a 65-all tie.

“”He amazes me with our shooting,”” Miller said, setting up one of the funnier comments of the evening. “”I know Steve Kerr did our game. Derrick’s threatening to break his record. It would be the greatest upset in NCAA history if Derrick breaks Steve Kerr’s record, and I say that only because Derrick is such a gamer.

“”If we got in the gym and those guys shot it out, I’d put all money on Steve Kerr.””

Though Memphis tied it at 68 a minute later, the forced zone by the Tigers gave Arizona point guard Momo Jones an open look for 3 a minute later.

“”Derrick set a screen, and they switched off,”” Jones said. “”The big guy was on me, and the clock was winding down. In my head, I just said, ‘I have to make that shot,’ and that was the shot that I took. God willing, it went down.””


Miller goes with different strategy up three, less than a minute to play

Remember the last time Arizona had a 3-point lead in the closing minute of a basketball game?

Against the Washington Huskies in the Pac-10 Title game, Miller didn’t ask his team for a foul which would have avoided the possibility of the Huskies hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game. It cost him, the game going into overtime before the eventual loss.

And it was reminiscent of Miller’s 2006-07 Xavier team losing to Ohio State and the future No. 1 NBA draft pick, Greg Oden. That game, Miller lost in the second round after Buckeye Ron Lewis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, where the Buckeyes would end up victorious.

“”Like all coaches, when you take that medicine, so to speak, we’re going to lose a different way the next time,”” Miller said. “”And we almost did here where we fouled.””

On Friday against the Tigers, the exact same situation arose with a 77-74 Arizona lead and seven seconds left.

This time, Miller asked his point guard, Momo Jones, to foul.

He did, and Tiger freshman Joe Jackson hit the first. Then, he nearly made Miller pay for the call, missing the second free throw — Memphis players said it wasn’t on purpose — and gave the Tigers the opportunity for a tie off the offensive rebound.

“”We gave up a second shot on the missed free throw,”” Miller said, “”which, that’s part of the consequences of fouling.””

But Williams swatted Wesley Witherspoon’s shot into the left corner of the court, essentially assuring Arizona’s win.

“”I’m not sure what’s right, what’s wrong,”” Miller admitted afterward. “”But when we get in that situation, we elect to foul, and we play the percentages from there.

“”To me, I’d rather lose the other way than letting the guy hit that 3 to put it in overtime.””

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