It’s the non-call Arizona Wildcats fans have been talking about for 16 years.
UA fans can’t forget the 2001 national championship game against Duke, and this moment in particular — Blue Devils guard Jay Williams rode the back of Arizona’s Jason Gardner as the players chased a loose ball midway through the first half. It would have been Williams’ third foul and perhaps — well, very likely — would have changed the game’s complexion.
Duke went on to beat Arizona in Minneapolis, 82-72.
“Gardner fouled him. Jay was in good position underneath him,” joked ESPN analyst and Duke alum Jay Bilas on Friday, in advance of College GameDay being at McKale Center for Saturday’s Arizona-UCLA game. “The referees just ignored it.”
Actually, the scenario was quite the opposite.
Williams offered no apologies Friday, but took it all in stride, knowing the incident makes him unpopular with UA fans.
“What was I supposed to do? Tell the referee I fouled him?” Williams said.
When our Steve Rivera of AllSportsTucson.com jokingly told Williams that everyone in Tucson hates him because of the play, he light-heartedly replied, “Hate is a strong word considering our climate these days.”
“What was I supposed to do?” he repeated. “I was 19 years old and I fouled Jason and everybody in the stadium of 45,000 knew I fouled him with the exception of those watching the game. What am I supposed to do?”
Williams said he and former Arizona Wildcat Richard Jefferson talked about it “every single day” when they were on the New Jersey Nets together.
“I’ve let go about it; I don’t know about you guys,” he said, smiling.