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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The Block


Shocked by the time the buzzer finally sounded, Sean Miller couldn’t find the right words when shaking Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar’s hand.

“”I was so caught up in emotion, I think I said, ‘Good win,'”” Arizona’s men’s basketball head coach said at the postgame press conference, using the time to correct himself. “”I didn’t mean to say that. What I meant to say was, ‘What a game.’ It’s almost a shame they had to lose by the way they played.””

In a contest where Arizona led for the most part, the Huskies rallied and made Saturday’s 87-86 Wildcat victory in McKale Center a down-to-the-wire contest. The outcome was due to where the ball bounced and a wild finish that included a series of game-changing plays.

Here’s a breakdown of the four most critical plays in the final minute that gave UA

the win.


The block

Of course, forward Derrick Williams’ shot block pretty much ended Washington’s upset bid.

With 2.2 seconds and the ball on the baseline for an inbounds play, the Huskies got forward Darnell Gant a touch on the right block. Coming from the weak side, Williams, who scored 26 and grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked the shot into the stands, leaving just 0.2 seconds for the Huskies to tip a pass into the basket.

Considering Arizona only had two fouls to give, Miller instructed his players to be careful.

“”Basically, Coach was like … if he gets close to the basket, don’t foul him,”” Williams said.

If UW got a pass outside of the 3-point line, the Wildcats could foul the Huskies to force them into another inbounds play with less time on the clock. But if the ball got into the interior, a foul would likely be a shooting foul, and Arizona couldn’t afford a three-point play.

With Gant receiving the inbounds pass in the paint, Arizona’s players had two options.

“”Get ready to get the defensive rebound or try to block it,”” Williams said. “”I knew he was going up, so just try to block it, and I did.””

That came at a risk of a goaltending call, but Williams said he jumped before Gant released the ball, leading him to believe it was not yet on a downward trajectory.

That’s a tough call to make,”” Miller said. “”He really went up and got it at the peak of the shot.””


For the lead

Though the block was the key to the victory, Arizona took the one-point lead on forward Solomon Hill’s layup with 22 seconds remaining.

He wasn’t the main player in the offense set either. Point guard Momo Jones and forward Jesse Perry were running a pick-and-roll on the right wing.

Meanwhile, Hill stood on the left block and noticed his man was eying the ball.

“”It was kind of (a) breakdown,”” Hill said. “”When you get in a situation like that, my man was looking. He was really just looking at the ball, wasn’t really paying attention at me.””

Jones penetrated and dropped off the pass to Perry on the right baseline, where his shot was blocked by UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning — blocked right into Hill’s hands.

“”I stayed on the block, and Jesse (Perry) happened to drive and got it tipped,”” Hill said. “”I was able to put it up.””


The travel

With the shot clock no longer an issue and 22 seconds left, the Huskies had all the time in the world to win the game.

Williams had the defensive assignment on Bryan-Amaning, who had a staggering 24-point, eight-rebound, seven-block performance. With three seconds left, the volume of the McKale crowd covered up a blown whistle, making it appear UW guard Isaiah Thomas had a wide-open 3-pointer off a post kick-out from Bryan-Amaning.

Before Bryan-Amaning passed the ball out of the paint, the officials called a travel on the Washington forward, likely surprised that Williams didn’t jump for a block.

“”I thought he traveled before (the official) even called it,”” Williams said. “”He does that up-and-under move a lot. I was just waiting on it. He got a travel like that earlier in the game.””


Off the foot

After the travel call and without a timeout, Hill threw an inbounds pass off the foot of Jones, giving the ball back to the Huskies with 2.2 seconds.

“”It was kind of a miscommunication between me and Coach and Momo,”” Hill said, whose bounce pass went off Jones’ leg. “”I kind of wanted to throw it deep, but (Jones) wanted to set up a play. It came down to Mo just wanted to get the ball.””

Miller said he would’ve wanted to throw the ball deep, and credited Washington’s defense for causing the turnover that gave the Huskies the ball back, leading to Williams’ important block.

“”If I had to do it all over again, if (the players) were talking to me in a timeout,”” Miller said, “”I would have been throwing the ball deep. Sometimes it happens.””

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