UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: St. Nick saved the day

It seemed game was over until sophomore 'just decided to help'
2012-12-27T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:23:20Z Arizona basketball: St. Nick saved the dayBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

HONOLULU - Leave it to Nick "Bunnies" Johnson to put new meaning into the term "help defense."

Johnson's monstrous leap to block Chase Tapley's layup along the left baseline Tuesday may go down as memorable as any of his high-flying dunks he's already thrown down in a season-and-a-half with the Wildcats.

Johnson's improbable block saved UA's 68-67 win over San Diego State in the Diamond Head Classic championship game and kept the Wildcats undefeated heading into Pac-12 play.

"Nick, obviously, came out of nowhere," UA coach Sean Miller said.

Johnson said the block compared to his denial of Justin Cobbs' layup at the end of UA's 78-74 win at California last season, but this one was with a one-point differential and with three seconds left on the clock.

As the final seconds wore down, San Diego State's Skylar Spencer set a screen that prompted Johnson and Brandon Ashley to switch the men they were guarding. Then Tapley raced past Ashley for what appeared to be a near-certain, game-winning layup.

"I came around a screen, and the Red Sea parted," Tapley told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I was thinking the game was over, and the next thing you know, he banged my stuff off the backboard."

Everyone thought it was over.

"It was scary," UA forward Solomon Hill said. "I'm not going to lie."

UA point guard Mark Lyons didn't feel any better. He gave UA a one-point lead on the previous possession by hitting two free throws after he drove inside for a layup, only to see it about to be erased.

Or so he thought.

"Honestly, I was nervous once Tapley turned the corner on Brandon," Lyons said. "I was like, 'Man, it's game over.'"

Then, as Lyons spoke in the Stan Sheriff Center hallway following the game, he motioned toward Johnson. "But Superman Bunnies over there came in and denied the shot," he said.

Bunnies himself described it a bit more modestly.

"Coach ran a pretty good play to get my guy and Brandon's guy switched," Johnson said. "I was on Tapley, but they set a little rub screen, and Tapley got the ball and went around him. So I just decided to help."

Just decided to help.

On StarNet: Follow the Cats on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Top UA performers at the Diamond Head Classic

Pos Player Pts Reb Asst FG% 3pt%

F Solomon Hill 12.3 5.0 2.3 42.3 12.5

G Mark Lyons 12.0 1.7 3.7 38.7 30.0

G Nick Johnson 10.0 4.7 2.0 35.7 27.2

F Kevin Parrom 11.6 6.0 1.7 58.3 67.0

F Brandon Ashley 8.3 8.0 0.7 55.6 NA

Up Next

• What: Colorado at No. 3 Arizona

• Where: McKale Center

• When: 6 p.m. Jan. 3

• TV; radio: ESPNU; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Washington
12/17 9:00 pm
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