Arizona Basketball

Is Nick Johnson’s clutch performance the best in Arizona Wildcats’ NCAA tourney history?

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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

ARIZONA 70, SAN DIEGO STATE 64
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 21 29 .724
*Nick Johnson SG 27 39 .692
*Aaron Gordon PF 22 39 .564
*T.J. McConnell PG 18 35 .514
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 8 20 .400
*Gabe York SG 4 27 .148
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Elliott Pitts SG 4 4 1.000
Jordin Mayes PG 1 7 .143
TOTAL TEAM 105 200 .525

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Nick Johnson’s 15 points in the last 2:46 against San Diego State on Thursday will be written about and discussed as one of the greatest individual performances in Arizona basketball history for generations to come.

Nick Johnson's name will forever be discussed among Arizona's greatest clutch performances in the NCAA tournament

Nick Johnson’s name will forever be discussed among Arizona’s greatest clutch performances in the NCAA tournament

Is it the best for Arizona among its storied NCAA tournament runs?

The argument against that: Johnson was 0-for-10 from the field in the 37 minutes before he came on strong. The counter argument: 15 points and 10 clutch free throws when Arizona needed them the most is a rare feat. Arizona needed that kind of finish to stay ahead of the Aztecs, who are as good as any team the Wildcats faced this season, including Duke, Michigan and UCLA.

Johnson never let his cold shooting get him down, which is another mark of a player-of-the-year candidate. He had eight rebounds, three assists and only one turnover in 39 minutes. He also helped defend the dangerous Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard. That duo managed 36 points but they attempted 31 shots to get that many. They worked for every shot.

Johnson was put to the extreme test on both ends. San Diego State has capable defenders. The Aztecs rank in the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage defense and scoring defense. Johnson fought his way back from an 0-for-10 performance from dire conditions.

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NICK JOHNSON CAREER POINTS RANKING

Rank Player Years Points
20 Solomon Hill 2010-13 1430
21 Joe Nehls 1978-80 1409
22 Ernie McCray 1958-60 1349
23 Kyle Fogg 2008-12 1341
24 Frank Smith 1980-83 1329
25 Mustafa Shakur 2004-07 1318
26 Nick Johnson 2011-14 1317
27 Ivan Radenovic 2004-07 1300
28 Nic Wise 2007-10 1285

“When I talk about will and resolve and having a toughness about our team, it’s the willingness to take the shot and then make it when things haven’t gone your way the entire game, especially in a game like this of such great meaning,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said in the post-game press conference when asked about Johnson’s clutch performance.

Which NCAA tournament performance by an Arizona player is better than what we witnessed from Johnson in the last three minutes?

Derrick Williams’ 32-point, 13-rebound performance against Duke in the 2011 Sweet 16 ranks up there. His production in Arizona’s 93-77 win was opposite that of Johnson last night. Williams scored 25 of those points by halftime, when Duke maintained a 44-38 lead. MoMo Jones came on strong in the second half, finishing with 16 points with six assists and no turnovers.

Miles Simon had two 30-point games, against Providence and Kentucky, in Arizona’s 1997 championship run. Simon also spurred Arizona’s comeback against South Alabama in the first round that season. Much like Johnson last night, Simon did not awake in that game until the late stages. He had only 11 points, but nine came in a deciding 17-0 run after the Jaguars took a 10-point lead with 7:31 remaining.

If factoring only rebounding performances in the NCAA tournament, A.J. Bramlett reigns supreme. He had 16 rebounds against South Alabama and 15 in the next game against College of Charleston. In a monumental Sweet 16 win over No. 1 Kansas in 1997, Bramlett had 12 rebounds to go along with 12 points.

Mike Bibby made six three-pointers against North Carolina in the 1997 Final Four game against North Carolina, setting up Arizona’s national championship game with Kentucky.

Steve Kerr was also deadly from beyond the arc against Iowa in the 1988 Sweet 16, making four of his five three-pointers in the second half when Arizona turned a four-point halftime lead into a dominating 99-79 win. Kerr also had eight assists.

Sean Elliott had 31 points against Oklahoma in the 1988 Final Four, and he pulled down 14 rebounds against UNLV in the 1989 Sweet 16 — both of them losses for Arizona.

Khalid Reeves’ 29 points against Louisville in the 1994 Elite Eight helped Arizona get to the Final Four. Reeves scored all of his 17 first-half points in a 27-13 run that gave the Wildcats a 35-26 lead at the break.

Damon Stoudamire, the Arizona legend who is an assistant with the Wildcats, can relate to Johnson’s experience against San Diego State. He was held scoreless for the first half but came on strong in the second half, scoring 11 points to lead Arizona to a 82-70 win against the Cardinals.

Luke Walton had 16 points, nine assists, two blocked shots and three steals in the classic double-overtime win over Gonzaga in the 2003 second-round game. His basket with 4.1 seconds forced the second overtime.

Herman Harris’ near-triple-double against UNLV in the 1976 Sweet is hard to top. Harris had a career-high 31 points with nine rebounds and nine assists in Arizona’s 104-109 epic overtime victory over Jerry Tarkanian’s Running Rebels, who had Reggie Theus.

Harris played the entire 45 minutes. He scored 17 of UA’s last 25 points in regulation, answering every UNLV basket.

The gutsiest performance belongs to Jim Rappis, who played on one leg much of the game against UNLV after bruising his left heel in the first half. He still shot 10 of 14 from the field and had 24 points and 12 assists. When he fouled out with 40 seconds to go in regulation he reportedly received a standing ovation all of the fans, including those from the other participants at Pauley Pavilion (UCLA and Pepperdine).

It’s difficult to rate Johnson’s 15-point outburst against San Diego State in the last 2:46 as Arizona’s best performance in the NCAA tournament. That indicates the number of clutch performances Arizona players have produced in March Madness over the years.

The best in my mind is Harris’ effort against UNLV in 1976, but then again, I am a sucker for nostalgic moments dating to the Fred Snowden era.

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ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 37 37 831 1211 .686
Aaron Gordon SF 37 37 719 1148 .626
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 37 6 580 929 .624
Brandon Ashley PF 22 22 371 609 .609
Kaleb Tarczewski C 35 34 577 988 .584
T.J. McConnell PG 37 37 564 1186 .476
Gabe York SG 37 11 308 799 .385
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Elliott Pitts SG 23 0 42 194 .216
Jordin Mayes PG 33 1 38 190 .200
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Chris Johnson PF 4 0 5 6 .833
Jacob Hazzard PG 13 0 21 29 .724
Matt Korcheck PF 22 0 48 102 .471
Erik Conklin F 7 0 6 17 .353
Trey Mason SG 10 0 7 22 .318
Drew Mellon F 6 0 2 12 .167
Zach Peters C 11 0 -9 31 -.290
TOTAL TEAM 4029 7475 .539

ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Name (Year) G S PP MIN PR
Derrick Williams (2011) 38 38 1190 1141 1.043
Sean Elliott (1989) 33 33 1128 1125 1.003
Chris Mills (1993) 28 28 838 870 .963
Sean Elliott (1988) 38 38 1167 1249 .934
D. Stoudamire (1995) 30 30 964 1092 .883
Mike Bibby (1998) 35 35 905 1124 .805
Jason Terry (1999) 29 29 877 1107 .792
Nick Johnson (2014) 37 37 831 1211 .686

ARIZONA FRESHMAN REBOUND RECORD

Rank Player Season Rebs
1 Aaron Gordon 2013-14 285
2 Bob Elliott 1973-74 278
3 Al Fleming 1972-73 257
4 Michael Wright 1998-99 254
5 Derrick Williams 2009-10 219
6 Channing Frye 2001-02 214
7 Kaleb Tarczewski 2012-13 212
8 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 2013-14 211
9 Brandon Ashley 2012-13 186
10 Chase Budinger 2006-07 179

TOP TEN ARIZONA REBOUNDING TEAMS

Margin Team Avg Opp Games
19.3 1950-51 59.5 40.2 30
9.7 1976-77 46.7 37.0 27
8.9 1992-93 43.1 34.2 28
8.3 1975-76 47.2 38.9 33
8.1 1998-99 41.7 33.6 29
7.3 1991-92 40.3 33.0 31
7.2 2013-14 38.1 30.9 37
7.2 1974-75 46.7 39.5 29
6.8 1977-78 44.0 37.2 26
6.6 2000-01 39.8 33.2 36

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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
March 27 San Diego State 70-64 .525 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 21 29 .724
March 23 Gonzaga 84-61 (W) .700 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 43 27 1.593
March 21 Weber State 68-59 (W) .510 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 23 22 1.045
March 15 UCLA 75-71 (L) .495 Nick Johnson SG 25 39 .641
March 14 Colorado 63-43 (W) .505 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 23 28 .821
March 13 Utah 71-39 (W) .565 Nick Johnson SG 23 26 .885
March 8 @Oregon 64-57 (L) .380 Aaron Gordon PF 28 33 .848
March 5 @Oregon St. 74-69 (W) .470 Nick Johnson SG 35 33 1.061
March 2 Stanford 79-66 (W) .605 Aaron Gordon SF 39 32 1.219
Feb. 27 California 87-59 (W) .730 Nick Johnson SG 38 31 1.226
Feb. 22 @Colorado 88-61 (W) .720 Aaron Gordon PF 35 27 1.296
Feb. 19 @Utah 67-63 OT (W) .391 Gabe York SG 20 36 .556
Feb. 14 @ASU 69-66 2OT (L) .356 Kaleb Tarczewski C 22 45 .489
Feb. 9 Oregon St. 76-54 (W) .575 T.J. McConnell PG 25 30 .833
Feb. 6 Oregon 67-65 (W) .455 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 31 34 .912
Feb. 1 @California 60-58 (L) .430 Kaleb Tarczewski C 34 35 .971
Jan. 29 @Stanford 60-57 (W) .400 Nick Johnson SG 24 33 .727
Jan. 26 Utah 65-56 (W) .435 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 16 24 .667
Jan. 23 Colorado 69-57 (W) .525 Brandon Ashley PF 24 31 .774
Jan. 16 ASU 91-68 (W) .675 Nick Johnson SG 23 27 .852
Jan. 12 @USC 73-53 (W) .520 Brandon Ashley PF 28 31 .903
Jan. 9 @UCLA 79-75 (W) .570 Gabe York SG 16 18 .889
Jan. 4 Washington 71-62 (W) .580 Nick Johnson SG 34 36 .944
Jan. 2 Washington St. 60-25 (W) .510 Kaleb Tarczewski C 20 22 .909
Dec. 23 NAU 77-44 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 30 27 1.111
Dec. 19 Southern 69-43 (W) .535 Aaron Gordon SF 28 29 .966
Dec. 14 @Michigan 72-70 (W) .530 Kaleb Tarczewski C 23 26 .885
Dec. 11 N.M. State 74-48 (W) .555 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 22 23 .957
Dec. 7 UNLV 63-58 (W) .450 T.J. McConnell PG 29 35 .829
Dec. 3 Texas Tech 79-58 (W) .570 Brandon Ashley PF 32 28 1.143
Nov. 29 Duke 72-66 (W) .590 Kaleb Tarczewski C 21 28 .750
Nov. 27 Drexel 66-62 (W) .505 Nick Johnson SG 31 36 .861
Nov. 19 Rhode Island 87-59 (W) .685 Nick Johnson SG 39 26 1.500
Nov. 18 Fairleigh Dickinson 100-50 (W) .890 Nick Johnson SG 30 20 1.500
Nov. 14 @San Diego State 69-60 (W) .490 Nick Johnson SG 29 31 .935
Nov. 11 Long Beach State 91-57 (W) .790 Brandon Ashley PF 28 21 1.333
Nov. 8 Cal Poly 73-62 (W) .565 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 20 21 .952

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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