UA-USC game blog: Wise gives himself a happy endingby Anthony Gimino on Mar. 06, 2010, under Sports
Final, Arizona 86-84: Nic Wise wins it with 1.2 seconds when he splits two defenders off the dribble, makes an up-and-under move toward the basket, scoops up a shot off the glass … and it rolls in for the win. So, let’s not call it Senior Day. Let’s just call it Nic Wise Day.
A hard-fought win that opens up a lot of possibilities for UA. The Cats are 16-14 to end the regular season and could tie for third in the Pac-10, pending what happens later today in the Pac-10. No matter what happens at the Pac-10 tourney, Arizona is now a viable candidate for the NIT if it doesn’t win the league tourney to go to the NCAAs.
Anyway, a great game and a fitting end at home for Wise, who has endured a lot over four coaches in four seasons. After he received a framed jersey in a postgame ceremony, fans chanted, “Thank you, Nic … Thank you, Nic.” Nice cheer. Well deserved.
End of OT, tied at 78: Nic Wise misses a shot at the buzzer to win the game. USC was down six with 1:07 to go, but UA misses three free throws — including two from Wise — and Kyle Fogg committed a traveling turnover in the backcourt. On the bright side, Dwight Lewis has fouled out for USC.
Like I always say: It’s not over until Kyle Fogg says it’s over. He hits THREE free throws with 0.2 seconds left to send the game to overtime at 69-69. Unbelievable.
1:27 left, Arizona leads 66-65: Some great action here and a fabulous finish awaits. Kyle Fogg hit 1 of 2 free throws to give UA the lead.
3:00 left, Arizona leads 60-59: It’s anybody’s game. The Cats were up by six, but USC got a four-point possession on an Alex Stepheson basket and a foul. He missed the foul shot but eventually got the rebound and scored another bucket. Later, Mike Gerrity hit a 3-point shot, and the Trojans won’t go away. Another UA game going down to the wire. What’s new?
5:12 left, Arizona leads 56-51: Late in the season, USC has run out of gas in the second halves of games. Arizona is the aggressor now, offensively and defensively, and needs one final push here to send senior Nic Wise out a winner at McKale.
7:54 left, Arizona leads 52-49: Arizona has stepped up its defense, as Jamelle Horne and Alex Jacobson have each drawn charges from USC in the past couple of minutes. Plus, after having 10 turnovers at halftime, the Wildcats have committed just one in the second half. USC is 4 of 17 from the field in the second half. Don’t give the Trojans anything easy … and the Cats will pull away for a win on Senior Day.
Of course, as soon as I type that, Dwight Lewis goes in an easy layup after a steal.
11:12 left: Kyle Fogg hits one free throw after the timeout to tie the game at 46. UA is 6 of 12 from the line today.
11:12 left, USC leads 46-45: McKale is rockin’ Brendon Lavender’s 3-pointer rattles in to bring UA within a point. Sean Miller went with an unusual lineup for a couple of minutes, playing backup center Alex Jacobson with Derrick Williams on the front line to counter the Trojans’ size. UA is playing with more intensity on the glass … now, it just needs a couple of those tips on offense to fall through the hoop. …
Republican senators John McCain and Scott Brown were next to us courtside doing an interview with the Fox Sports Arizona announcers. Some fans in the seats behind press row yelled “health care” at the politicians.
15:20 left, USC leads 44-39: Arizona is doing a horrible job chasing done rebounds on the defensive end, giving USC too many chances. Alex Jacobson is coming into the game for the Cats. The Trojans have attempted 13 more shots than Arizona so far.
Halftime: USC leads 38-33. Jamelle Horne, all will be forgiven. Horne — perhaps inspired to play against his old coach, Kevin O’Neill? — scored 10 consecutive points for Arizona to end the half and had a huge block of Mike Gerrity in the final minute. The “good” Horne has come to play today … you just never know. He has a frequent source of frustration for fans, but he has a team-high 11 points and a team-best five rebounds so far. Problem is, the Arizona defense has been ridiculously bad against the physically imposing Trojans.
USC is shooting 50 percent and has a plus-4 rebounding edge.
Interesting: Sean Miller has some words for the refs as he leaves the court, pointing to one of them across the court.
3:27 timeout, USC leads 32-28: It’s a 7-0 run for the Wildcats after trailing by 11. Jamelle Horne with a jumper and a 3-pointer helps bring the Cats back. The crowd is fired up for this last home game of the season (barring a potential NIT home game), and that energy should be huge in the second half.
5:24 timeout, USC leads 32-21: OK, Brendon Lavender should stop driving to the basket. His last two tries resulted in an offensive foul and a turnover. Meanwhile, Dwight Lewis is in total control on the other end, scoring six consecutive points for the Trojans.
7:40 timeout, USC leads 24-19: One of the big unknowns heading into this game was USC’s mental state. The Trojans self-imposed a postseason ban over recruiting violations, so this is their last game of the season. Would they care? Or would they come out with a nothing-to-lose, this-is-our-tournament kind of attitude? So far, the Trojans have come out with a lot of energy, forcing Arizona into too many mistakes on offense. The Wildcats have seven turnovers (and six less shots than USC).
11:25 timeout, USC leads 18-13: Marcus Johnson has done too much strutting so far for Arizona’s taste. But the Cats will have to do something to stop him. Johnson has eight points and two rebounds so far and walked around like he owned the court after drawing a foul from Nic Wise.
15:39 timeout: USC leads, 10-7: USC’s Marcus Johnson, a well-built 6-6, 210 pounds, fouls Arizona guard Kyle Fogg hard on a fast-break layup attempt, and Fogg went down hard. I’m reminded of something Kevin O’Neill said when he was here at Arizona a couple of years ago. He never wanted his players to help up an opponent from the floor. Johnson didn’t. Fogg came up wincing. Hmmm… Arizona could really use Kevin Parrom in this game. He is missing his fourth game because of a foot injury.
Gotta love Kevin O’Neill with the early timeout, one of his coaching hallmarks. After a Derrick Williams basket nine seconds into the game, followed by a UA steal and a drive for two by Solomon Hill, O’Neill calls a 30-second timeout with 19:29 to go in the half. …
Jamelle Horne was back in the starting lineup for Arizona after coming off the bench Thursday against UCLA. Coach Sean Miller said he was just looking for a way to spark Horne, who ended up playing a team-high 35 minutes against the Bruins anyway. …
When I talked to Kevin O’Neill on Friday, I asked him what Nic Wise meant to his Arizona team in the 2007-08 season. Wise was a sophomore guard at the time. “When Nic Wise wasn’t playing, we didn’t play very well,” O’Neill said. “He was injured for an eight-game stretch, and we didn’t play very well. Nic is a great kid. I hope he is able to keep playing a little bit more as time goes along. He’s done a lot here at U of A.” Wise is playing his final home game today. …
Word is that Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain will be here, along with recently elected Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who has been in the state stumping for McCain in his re-election bid against J.D. Hayworth. … O’Neill received a smattering of boos when he was introduced before the game, nothing overly hostile, though.