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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wisely done

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the ‘Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.

He teared up.

So did everyone else.

The arms of his closest family extended throughout the McKale Center faithful. They gave one final salute to its four-year warrior Saturday afternoon.

The Dominique Giovanni Wise chapter of Point Guard U came to a close the way aspiring kids dream about growing up — a countdown to an imaginary buzzer at a schoolyard hoop.

He sent McKale into one last frenzy, one last buzzer beater and one last curtain call to a most fitting ending that most Hollywood writers couldn’t even script.

The 14,591 fans in capacity saw one of the most breathtaking games in UA basketball history — a 86-84 double overtime win against the USC Trojans at the expense of ex-UA interim coach Kevin O’Neill.

“”There isn’t another college player in history that’s been through what I’ve been through,”” Wise said. “”It’s hard to hold it in. It’s a great feeling today.””

The phenomenal finish not only symbolized the Wildcats’ 2009-10 season of peaks, valleys, twists, jabs and tears — it symbolized Wise’s well-documented career through the lows of Lute Olson’s retirement to the highs of a Sweet 16 run.

Wise split a double team of Trojans for the game-winning layup on Saturday with 1.2 seconds remaining.

Nothing came easy — not his six rebounds grabbed against O’Neill’s extremely physical group, nor his ability to balance scoring across Arizona’s starters, all of whom reached double digits.

Nothing ever came easy — not even against teams like Lipscomb University. Again, it was Wise with the buzzer-beating heroics.  

“”To leave on a high note for him in McKale is gratifying for all of us knowing what he’s provided this season,”” said UA coach head Sean Miller, who would’ve coached an 11-19 team without the senior leader.

Wise’s supporting cast wanted this weekend to mean as much as it did, from his protégé Momo Jones to L.A.-killer Kyle Fogg.

Fogg averaged 22.0 points against UCLA and USC, but nothing stood out more than his pressure-packed clutch free throws to send Saturday’s game into overtime.

“”I just felt a lot of love,”” Wise said. “”Guys were telling me not to cry before the game, but I think I held it in pretty well.””

Wise hugged Jones at halfcourt and gave him much more than an average serving of humble pie.

“”I was basically telling him that it’s his turn now,”” Wise said. “”I’m handing over the keys to him. He’s the point guard of the future here.””

Said Jones on Thursday: “”We just knew we didn’t want to go out with a loss. It’s his last two games, we want to make sure it’s as best as possible going out.””

Indeed it was the best possible way to conclude a regular season after three previous ones hitting every corner, nook and level beyond the college basketball spectrum.

The senior did it against all odds.

A little bit of zone, man-to-man and hybrid defenses have made Wise a defensive machine. A little bit of up-tempo, slow-it-down sets and high octane offenses have made Wise an offensive octave.

He played little brother to Mustafa Shakur, Marcus Williams, Jerryd Bayless, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger. For a few moments, even Brandon Jennings dazzled in fan popularity for those eager to see someone carry the Point Guard U tradition.

Some of his friends and teammates gave up. Blue chips like J.P. Prince and Jeff Withey couldn’t handle the rebuilding environment and dipped out early for the stable and already prestigious programs of Tennessee and Kansas.

Five-star recruits like Abdul Gaddy — dubbed the future of Point Guard U like Jennings was — didn’t have the backbone to follow through with a commitment.

So Wise became The Man with all eyes on him in front of court-side fans such as Bill Murray and John McCain.

“”I just wanted to win the game, it didn’t matter how,”” Wise said in typical Wise fashion.

Fans now want his No. 13 to be retired, or at least honored with those great point guards before him — maybe in the ring of circle with Gilbert Arenas, maybe a framed jersey with Steve Kerr.

Just overnight, almost 300 users joined the Facebook group “”100,000 Wildcats for retiring Nic Wise’s jersey”” — proving the case that Wise did more than just carry the tradition of Point Guard U.

He bridged one of the largest gaps any player could bridge in a four-year span.

“”The fight in us. The never-quit attitude. We just know we can grind out games when it’s not pretty,”” Wise said. “”Everything happens for a reason.””

Wisely put.

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