Arizona Edges Texas On Another Williams Miracle

Arizona's Derrick Williams gets past Texas' Tristan Thompson, and puts up the shot that tied the game, and got Williams to the line for the winning free throw, in the Wildcats' 70-69 win over the Longhorns. (Photo by Charlie Riedel, AP)

Final Score: Arizona 70 Texas 69

Derrick Williams, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, had 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and came up with three points with less than 10 seconds left to lift fifth seed Arizona over fourth seed Texas this afternoon in Tulsa.

"Derrick hasn't struggled offensively like he did in the first half all year, but there was no head-hanging," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "And at the end, he came through."

It was the second consecutive NCAA Tournament game to turn in the Wildcats' favor in the final seconds due to Williams' heroics, having had the game saving block Friday in Arizona's 77-75 win over Memphis.

Texas started both halves strong, but past the 5 minute mark, it was Arizona that played most of the better ball. But the Longhorns rallied late, and the first 39:40 wound up being only a preliminary to the last seconds of the game.

A five second count on Texas while the Longhorns struggled to get the ball inbounds against the Wildcat defense, after Williams had missed his first chance at getting Arizona at least back into a tie, gave him a second chance, and he capitalized on it.

Two last Longhorn looks at basket were both contested, and unproductive.

Texas started fast, and balanced, and had all five starters in the scorebook by the first media timeout, jumping out to a 12-8 lead.

Arizona stayed patient, and three early three pointers, two by Jordin Mayes off the Wildcats' bench, moved them to a 15-12 lead 8 minutes into the game.

The ‘Cats Kevin Parrom had to have his right ankle retaped, but didn't miss a beat, extending the lead to 19-12, an 11-0 run, on Williams' free throws, before the Longhorns' Jordan Hamilton got a block and back to back dunks to stem Arizona's run.

Parrom returned with 6 minutes left in the first half, and by that time, Mayes had hit a three pointer, for a 22-16 lead.

A couple of additional three pointers by Brandon Lavender made it 28-18, as Arizona's bench had outscored Texas' 16-0 early in the game.

"We probably don't get enough credit for our bench," Miller said, "but we played 10 guys all season just for this reason."

Soloman Hill added 6 more, giving him a dozen in the first half, and Mayes made another basket, increasing his total to 11, as Arizona took a 36-25 halftime lead. A very unlikely position, given that Williams and Kyle Fogg had only 3 points each, and LaMont "MoMo" Jones zero. "MoMo" never got any "Mo" going, and his point total would remain there through the end of the game. Jones and Fogg had no assists either. Arizona was 6 of 11 on three pointers in the first half.

The Longhorns committed 10 first half turnovers, nearly their season game average of 12, while the ‘Cats only committed 3.

Hamilton and Gary Johnson both had 8 points to co-lead a Longhorn offense that turned ice cold after starting the game red hot.

"We have to fight for our space better," Texas Coach Rick Barnes felt getting ready to start the second half. "We are letting them bump us out of where we need to be."

Hamilton hit back to back three pointers, the first ones of the game for Texas, early in the second half, to bring the Longhorns back within 5 points, and force Miller into a quick timeout not even halfway to the first media break.

The Longhorns' extended their run to 10-2 before Williams broke a three and a half minute Wildcat scoring drought with five straight points of his own, to reopen an 8 point, 43-35 Arizona lead.

An intentional foul on Hill for a hard screen gave Texas an extra possession, and Johnson's basket made it a 5 point game. It could have been down to a one possession game given better free throw shooting.

Arizona got more help from a bench player, as Lavender, who had made both three pointers he had attempted earlier, kept his shooting perfect, with a pair of free throws.

Texas's Tristan Thompson, almost invisible most of the game, picked up his third foul, and Jesse Perry put back to back baskets together to put Arizona back up 49-40 with less than 12 minutes left.

J'Covan Brown's steal led Texas back within 4 points midway in the second half, and two free throws made it a two point game.

Williams and Parrom didn't let Texas get closer, reopening the lead to 6 points as the clock rolled below the 7 minute mark.

Mayes and Hill got into the act, keeping Arizona up by 5 points with 5 minutes left. Brown improved to 9 of 9 at the line, and his two plus one made him the game's high scorer, with 19 points, bringing the Longhorns back within 2 points heading to the last 4 minutes, though.

Arizona suffered an untimely scoring drought over two minutes long, though, and Brown finally brought Texas back into a 65-65 tie.

Williams drew Thompson's fourth foul, which put Arizona into the double bonus, and allowed for a one point Wildcat lead, but Brown put Texas ahead for the first time since they led 12-11, with 2:20 left.

Williams fought for 4 looks at the basket, but again made only one of two free throws, to tie it at 67 apiece with two minutes left.

Hill had an untimely traveling call against him, and Brown buried a crossover jumper with a minute left.

Arizona ran out of time outs with 22 seconds left, making the ones Miller twice had to take shortly before media timeouts an issue.

Williams missed, but Texas' Cory Joseph couldn't get the ball inbounds, and Fogg found Williams for two plus one with 9.6 seconds left, and a 70-69 lead.

Texas got two shots partially blocked, and Arizona got the trip to Anaheim.

Hill and Mayes, who made 6 of 7 shots, including all 4 of his three point attempts, supplemented Williams with 16 points apiece.

Brown's 13 of 13 day at the line made him the game's leading scorer, with 23 points, but he was essentially all Texas got from their bench. Hamilton had 18 points, and Johnson 14, but Joseph was held to 6 points, and Thompson only 3.

Texas, who finished second to Kansas in the Big XII, and also lost their conference tournament championship game to the Jayhawks, finished the year 28-8.

It was the third game decided in the last seconds for Arizona (29-7), the regular season Pac-10 Champions, who lost their conference tournament title game to Washington on a Husky basket at the buzzer in overtime. But Williams' late game magic in Tulsa has earned the Wildcats a date Thursday against Duke in the NCAA Western Regionals.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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