Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats best-play countdown: Williams’ no-look, three-point play beats Texas in 2011 NCAA tourney




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This year’s countdown to tipoff includes an overall look at the best play in Arizona Wildcats history, which will be determined as the days leading up to tipoff. Today marks 30 days until Arizona starts its 2014-15 season against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 14 at McKale Center. Along with the mentioning of the top plays, the countdown will once again display the top players who wore the number that corresponds with the day. The following is the next top play (they will be listed randomly during the countdown until a determination is made in a bracket):

Before last year’s Elite Eight run, the Arizona Wildcats’ most significant victory under six-year coach Sean Miller was against Duke in the 2011 Sweet 16. The biggest play was in the previous game that gave Miller and the Wildcats the opportunity to face Mike Krzyzewski’s team.

Derrick Williams, a sophomore who was selected the Pac-10 player of the year, made his second heroic play in as many NCAA tournament games on March 20, 2011. He completed a three-point play with 9.6 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 70-69 win over Texas in an NCAA second-round game at Tulsa, Okla.

Williams also had the saving block against Memphis before Arizona faced Texas.

“I wasn’t surprised by the block against Memphis,” Williams was quoted as saying by “I am a little surprised by the shot I made today. I haven’t seen the replay yet, but I wasn’t looking at the basket. I was looking down so I wouldn’t have a hard fall.

“I was surprised it went in, but at the same time I’m glad it went in.”

Williams’ off-balance prayer and subsequent free throw with a foul called on Texas’ Jordan Hamilton enabled the Wildcats to advance against Duke.

The No. 4 Longhorns trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half. Texas came back behind guard J’Covan Brown’s 21 second-half points.

With 14.5 seconds left, Texas’ Cory Joseph was whistled for a five-second call on an inbound play, setting up Williams’ game-winning play. After setting a pick for forward Solomon Hill, Williams slipped past Joseph toward the lane, received a pass from Hill and made the acrobatic shot while being fouled by Hamilton.

Williams made the free throw to put Arizona ahead 70-69. Brown drove down the court but did not get a clean look against three Arizona defenders, including Williams. His wild attempt missed, and Arizona advanced in the tourney.

With Williams’ name prominent among the most significant plays in Sean Miller’s five years — including the memorable game-saving block against Washington in 2011 — it’s obvious he is to the young Arizona coach what Sean Elliott was to Lute Olson in terms of building a winning program.

Derrick Williams at a recent NBA exhibition in China


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ARIZONA’S TOP PLAYS LISTED SO FAR (Click on link to access blogs that pertain to the following)

— Determined Jason Terry upsets No. 3 Stanford with shot in the lane in waning seconds of 1999 thriller at McKale Center.
Mark Lyons’ driving, one-handed shot in the waning seconds against No. 5 Florida in 2012 gives Sean Miller a signature victory.
Nic Wise’s game-winning last-second shot in double-overtime against USC in 2010 puts satisfying cap to tumultuous career.
Richard Jefferson’s tap-in at the buzzer off Jason Terry’s missed three-pointer beats Washington in 1999.
Loren Woods’ three blocked shots in succession — like rapid fire, one after the other within a five-second span — against Oregon in 2000.
Michael Wright’s shot in the lane with three seconds left topples No. 1 Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 2001.
Eddie Smith’s game-winning three-point play with two seconds left caps a furious last-minute rally at ASU in 1985.
Eddie Smith’s bank shot at the buzzer beats ASU 65-64 in Tempe in 1984 and sets Lute Olson’s dominant program in motion.
Salim Stoudamire’s jumper with six-tenths of a second left beats ASU in Tempe in 2005.
Nick Johnson gives Arizona fans Christmas Day gift with game-saving blocked shot against San Diego State in 2012.
MoMo Jones’ 16-foot bank shot at the buzzer in 2010 adds to New York flavor of Arizona winning shots at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
Chris Mills’ buzzer-beating jumper in regulation gives Arizona life in its 105-94 overtime victory over UCLA in 1991.
Kenny Lofton’s behind-the-back, double-pump dunk caps rout of Oregon in 1988, ranks as one of college hoops’ best dunks of that season.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning long-distance three-pointer downs UCLA in 2005.
Derrick Williams’ emphatic blocked shot against Washington in 2011 saves game for Arizona.
Khalid Reeves’ coast-to-coast game-winner with less the five seconds left beats Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 1992.
Steve Kerr’s first shot after father’s assassination in 1984, a 25-foot jumper against ASU, gives him hero status in Tucson and contributes to Arizona’s emergence in the Pac-10.
Sean Rook’s last-second bank shot at Stanford in 1991 gives the Wildcats a 78-76 victory.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning jumper against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16.
Sean Elliott’s free throw breaks Lew Alcindor’s conference scoring record in 1989.
Craig McMillan’s McClutch shot at the buzzer from full-court pass from Steve Kerr against Oregon State in 1986.
— Arizona 6-10 center Bob Elliott’s 35-foot jumper at the buzzer beats Kansas State in 1973.
Sean Elliott downs Duke with three-pointer over Danny Ferry in last minute in 1989.
Miles Simon’s 65-foot bank shot as time expired to beat Cincinnati in Phoenix in 1996.
Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight.


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[/ezcol_1half_end] 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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