Our Greatest Games series is a look back at some of the most memorable single game performances by some of the best players in Arizona basketball history. Make sure to check PGU for the next installment.
The first true star of the Sean Miller era, Derrick Williams was not just dominant in his two year career at Arizona, he was also instrumental in the Wildcats return to national prominence. The forward from La Mirada, California was not a heralded recruit, but he exploded onto the college basketball scene and took Arizona on an incredible Elite 8 run in 2011.
March 24, 2011, Arizona 93, Duke 77
32 points, 13 rebounds, 11-17 FG’s, 5-6 3PT, 2 steals
Derrick Williams had many “Superman Moments” during his time as a Wildcat, but his 32 point outburst in a dismantling of #1 seed Duke may stand atop the rest.
#5 seed Arizona faced off against a strong Duke team in the Sweet 16, headlined by NBA players Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith. But it was Williams who was the star in the first half, scoring 25 points in the period.
Despite Williams’ superhero effort, including a deep three pointer near the halftime buzzer, Duke held onto a 44-38 lead at the break.
But the Blue Devils had no idea what was about to hit them. Arizona went on a 19-2 scoring rampage in the second half, giving them a double digit lead that a rattled Duke team wasn’t able to overcome.
Williams also had 13 rebounds, helping Arizona to a 40-27 advantage on the boards. He was also deadly from deep, hitting 5 of 6 attempts from beyond the arc.
After taking Arizona to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2005, Williams was selected #2 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
February 19, 2011, Arizona 87, Washington 86
26 points, 11 rebounds, 8-16 FG’s, 2-2 3PM, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Williams’ spectacular game saving block against Washington was another of his most memorable moments. Not only did Arizona score a big win against a Washington program that had the Cats’ number, but Wildcat fans got to revel in the tears of the Huskies who were forced to watch the replay on ESPN over and over again. Despite their bitter cries, the video was clear that the ball was not on it’s downward trajectory, and it was indeed the correct call.
It was one of the most heroic performances in Arizona basketball history, in which Williams led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds despite playing with a broken right pinky, which was heavily taped.
It was his second game in a row with more than 25 points, and it was his sixth of the season. Williams also got his ninth double-double of the season that night.
And Williams’ play before the big block was equally impressive, he hit a crucial three to give Arizona the lead and came up with a critical steal in the final minutes of play.