Arizona basketball: Cats had a knack for winning close ones

2011-03-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:03:58Z Arizona basketball: Cats had a knack for winning close onesBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 30, 2011 12:00 am  • 

It was no surprise that the Arizona Wildcats played an Elite Eight game decided by only two points.

What was a surprise is that the Wildcats lost. They won eight of 11 games decided by five points or less:

• Dec. 16: Arizona 63, NAU 58, McKale Center. Kevin Parrom's three-point play with 58 seconds left broke a tie at 58, and Brendon Lavender converted a steal into a dunk with 24 seconds left to allow the Wildcats to put away their plucky in-state cousins in the Fiesta Bowl Classic game.

• Jan. 2: Oregon State 76, Arizona 75, Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore. The Wildcats weren't thrilled about spending a long New Year's weekend in a small Oregon town, and they had even less fun against the Beavers zone defense. Arizona coughed up 19 turnovers and gave up 17 second-chance points, the most memorable of which came on Jared Cunningham's high-flying "kiss the sky" rebound dunk.

• Jan. 6: Arizona 73, California 71, McKale Center. Derrick Williams made a school-record 22 trips to the free-throw line, making 16, and finished with 31 overall to help the Wildcats come back from a nine-point deficit in the second half. UA hung on despite shooting 40.4 percent from the field.

• Jan. 22: Arizona 65, Washington State 63, Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash. The Wildcats were still staggering after a 17-point loss to Washington two days earlier, but pulled out a gritty win, thanks to a 17-2 second-chance-point advantage. Jamelle Horne hit three three-pointers in the final five minutes.

• Feb. 5: Arizona 107, California 105, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif. MoMo Jones had a career-high 27 points, many of them with the game on the line, as the Wildcats escaped with a two-point win in triple overtime. And UA did it without Williams, who fouled out near the end of regulation.

• Feb. 19: Arizona 87, Washington 86, McKale Center. In perhaps the most memorable moment of the season, Williams swatted away a shot from Darnell Gant with 1.8 seconds left to preserve a victory that ultimately led to the Wildcats' Pac-10 championship. Arizona had 19 turnovers and allowed Matthew Bryan-Amaning to score 24 points, but out-rebounded the Huskies 40-25.

• March 11: Arizona 67, USC 62, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Pac-10 tournament semifinal. Williams scored 20 points, and hit all four free throws he took in the final 20 seconds to put away the Trojans just 15 days after losing to them at Galen Center. Horne hit a key three-pointer with 2:29 left.

• March 12: Washington 77, Arizona 75, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Pac-10 tournament final. Washington overcame a four-point deficit with 26 seconds left in regulation, and Arizona left C.J. Wilcox open for a three-pointer in the corner with seven seconds left. In overtime, Washington's Isaiah Thomas stepped back for an 18-footer at the buzzer to win it.

• March 18: Arizona 77, Memphis 75, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., NCAA tournament second round. In a virtual replay of the white-out game, Williams swatted away another shot, this time from Wesley Witherspoon. Williams also recorded a double-double - 22 points and 10 rebounds - in a game that was marked by several no-calls in the final seconds.

• March 20: Arizona 70, Texas 69, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., NCAA tournament third round. Williams came through again with the game on the line, this time by sinking an eight-footer as he fell to the floor with nine seconds left and Texas leading by two. Williams picked up a foul and hit the ensuing and-one free throw for the lead as the UA successfully defended a final Texas possession.

• March 26: Connecticut 65, Arizona 63, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., NCAA West Regional final: Williams sat out 13 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, and the UA's 14-2 second-half run ultimately was not enough. The UA made just 4 of 21 three-pointers, and two of its best shooters, Williams and Horne, each missed potential game-winning three-pointers in the final seven seconds.

Stress test

The Wildcats were at their best when the games were close down the stretch:

8 of 11

The number of games Arizona won in 2010-2011 that were decided by 5 points or less

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