TULSA, Okla. – The shirts were mostly Memphis blue this time, and the stakes were much higher, but Derrick Williams had another clutch block to save the Arizona Wildcats in a 77-75 NCAA tournament victory over Memphis today at the BOK Center.
Williams, who blocked Washington’s Darnell Gant to preserve a UA 87-86 win on Feb. 19 in the “white-out” game at McKale Center, this time swatted away a rebound basket attempt from Memphis’ Wesley Witherspoon with two seconds left to preserve the two-point win.
Williams also had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, who helped themselves considerably by making 26 of 31 free throws.
The win moved fifth-seeded Arizona to 28-7 and into a third-round game with Texas to be played at time to be determined later today.
Miller has won every NCAA tournament game he’s coached in which his team is the better-seeded team.
Memphis ended its season at 25-10, having reached the tournament for the first time under head coach Josh Pastner, the former UA player and assistant coach.
Arizona entered the game having had plenty of success in close games, with a previous record of 6-2 in games decided by five points or less. Their three biggest close wins, cited often as keys to Sean Miller’s second year with the Wildcats, were a 65-63 win at Washington State, a 107-105 triple-overtime win at California on Feb. 5 and an 87-86 win over Washington in the Feb. 19 “white-out” game at McKale Center.
But the Wildcats’ luck ran out last week in the Pac-10 Tournament final, when Washington’s Isaiah Thoms beat them with a last-second 18-foot jumper for a 77-75 Huskies’ win.
This time, UA survived despite having Kyle Fogg and Kevin Parrom both playing with four fouls in the second half, necessitating the use of both MoMo Jones and Jordin Mayes. Jones finished with 18 points, many of them clutch.
After a UA timeout with 33 seconds left, Williams was nearly trapped by the Tigers and threw out upcourt, where it was tipped out of bounds by the Tigers. Jamelle Horne then drove inside and picked up a foul with 23.7 seconds left, and made two free throws for a 75-70 UA lead.
But when UA inbounded after Joe Jackson made two free throws with 14 seconds left to cut it to 75-72, Solomon Hill threw an errant inbounds pass to Horne and Memphis’ Will Barton caught it. Barton missed his ensuing shot but Antonio Barton made a rebound basket to cut the lead to 75-74.
Hill then inbounded again, but this time he got it right. Hill hit Jones with a short pass and Jones dribbled around until he was fouled with 7.4 seconds left. Jones hit two free throws to put UA ahead 77-74, and then Jones fouled Jackson after he crossed the midcourt line with five seconds left.
Jackson made 1 of 2 free throws and then Williams blocked the rebound shot by Witherspoon. UA had a final possession, getting the ball to Horne before he was fouled, then Horne missed both free throws but with only 4-10ths of a second on the clock, so the Tigers could not get off a decont shot on the rebound.
The game remained within two baskets most of the second half, and Parrom made a layup to tie it at 65 entering the final five minutes. Williams hit a three-pointer to give UA a 68-65 lead and Tarik Black tied it back up with a three-point play.
Then, with 1:39 left, Jones made a three-pointer that bounced off the rim and in, for a 71-68 UA lead and Mayes was fouled on the drive and hit two free throws for a 73-68 lead.
Will Barton then scored inside to cut UA’s lead to 73-70 before Jones was caught by the Memphis defense and forced to call a timeout with 33 seconds left.
Earlier in the second half, Jones made one of two free throws and drove downcourt for a layup to cut Memphis' lead to 63-61, but Jackson skirted along the baseline for a reverse layup to make it 65-61 with 7:09 left. Parrom and Fogg are both playing with four fouls.
Misses by Fogg on two consecutive possessions led to Memphis baskets while Chris Crawford grabbed a steal to fuel a six-point Memphis run and the Tigers now lead 63-58. Horne hit his first three-pointer in four tries to tie the game at 53 with 12:20 to go, stopping Memphis’ early second half run at 11 points.
After Arizona took a 48-40 lead early in the second half, the Tigers rattled off 11 straight points to go ahead 51-40. They had two three-pointers from Antonio Barton and another from Crawford during the run, while Will Coleman scored inside to tie it at 48.
In the first half, Arizona stumbled to a 10-1 deficit early but recovered to take a 41-38 lead at halftime.
Williams led the Wildcats with 12 points while Jones had 10. Arizona overcame early shooting trouble against Memphis’ changing defense to shoot 48.3 percent for the half.
Memphis, which was led by Witherspoon’s 10 points off the bench, shot 47.8 percent from the field.
After an initial free throw by Hill, the Wildcats trailed for most of the first 15 mintues and finished the half with a pair of defensive plays converted into scores: Hill picked up a turnover from Jackson and dunked it for a 39-37 lead while Jones stole the ball from Jackson with 55 seconds left and made a layup.
Earlier, Williams rebounded a miss by Horne and put it back to give the Wildcats their first lead, 27-26, with 4:57 to go.
Antonio Barton hit a three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to give the Tigers a 24-16 lead with eight minutes left but Jones raced inside for a layup to cut Memphis' lead to six points at the third media timeout (7:25 left).
The Wildcats had more successs defensively against the Tigers late in the second half the Tigers had taken a 10-point lead, 21-11, when Witherspoon hit a pair of free throws with 11:48 left.
Miller inserted five reserves at one time after the first five minutes of the game. The Tigers changed defenses and threw out some full-court pressure, and the Wildcats made just three of their first 10 field goals while the Tigers made 7 of 10 through the second media timeout (11:48).
Memphis unleashed its athleticism on Arizona early, taking a 10-1 lead by the time Antonio Barton crashed inside for a layup and converted a three-point play after Fogg fouled him.
The Wildcats cut it back to 10-5 before the first media timeout (15:24) with two free throws from Jones and Williams' first basket.
As expected, Fogg started for the Wildcats after coming off the bench in a limited role because of a strained quad last week in the Pac-10 Tournament.
In the first Tulsa West Regional pod game, Texas led by 17 points early in the second half and hung on to beat Oakland 85-81.
The Longhorns' big men were particularly dangerous: Jordan Hamilton had 19 points and 10 rebounds while Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and a career-high seven blocked shots.
It was only the second time that both Hamilton and Thompson have had double-doubles in the same game.