Over the coming weeks PGU will be looking back at some of the greatest games the Wildcats have been involved in during Coach Sean Miller’s tenure at Arizona. Make sure to check PGU for the next installment.
Arizona 65, Florida 64 – Saturday December 12, 2012
In one of the biggest regular season matchups to ever happen at the storied McKale Center, Arizona found themselves on the winning end of one of the greatest comeback wins in school history. The #8 ranked Cats were host to #5 Florida, setting up a showdown between undefeated top 10 teams.
Arizona went into the game as two point underdogs, despite being the home team. The majority of the game itself was not terribly pleasing to the cardinal and navy faithful. Florida’s Patric Young and Erik Murphy abused Arizona’s freshman post players and guards Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin became public enemies #1 and #2, as they could not miss from outside.
Every time the crowd rose to their feet in hopes of an elusive defensive stop, Florida was there to answer and reaffirm their hold on the lead. Back in forth it went for seemingly the entire second half until… it happened.
Unlike so many things in life, there is no reasonable or scientific explanation for what occurs in sports. Sure you can obsess advanced stats for hours but at the end of the day, winners and losers aren’t decided by mathematicians. They’re decided by one person’s desire to be victorious versus anothers.
And in the final minutes of a top 10 battle that will be remembered for eternity in the Sonoran Desert, the guys wearing “Arizona” on their jerseys refused to give in.
Down six points with under a minute to go, Nick Johnson forced a steal, leading to two made free throws by Kevin Parrom, to push the lead down to four.
Then Arizona came up with even more magic, this time in the form of a steal on an inbounds pass. Solomon Hill picked up the ball and slammed it home, cutting the seemingly insurmountable lead down to two.
Florida then turned the ball over for the second consecutive time on an inbounds pass, as Johnson was there to pick it off. There was then a mad scramble for the ball but it ended up in the hands of Grant Jerrett, who was able to draw a shooting foul.
Jerrett made the second of his two free throw attempts, pushing the lead down to one. Kenny Boynton subsequently missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Johnson was there to get the rebound. He instinctively passed it to Mark Lyons.
So there we were. Arizona’s point guard with the ball in his hands as the clock ran down under 10 seconds. A made basket would give the Cats a much needed top 10 win to earn national respect.
Lyons drove to the right of the lane before releasing the ball off his fingertips. At first, it appeared his shot was a little too strong but it gently tapped off the backboard, through the netting.
McKale Center erupted and seven seconds later, it was official. Arizona had won a game nearly everyone had declared over a minute earlier, in brilliantly dramatic fashion.