Arizona has advanced to the Sweet 16 and WildcatAuthority.com breaks down its victory over Texas.
won another wild affair on Sunday; this time upsetting the Texas
Longhorns 70-69 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory earns UA a trip to the sweet 16 in Anaheim where it will face Duke this upcoming Thursday.
The Wildcats fell behind early but stormed back to take an 11-point halftime advantage. After the break, Texas slowly climbed back in and eventually took a lead in the closing minutes. The game proceeded to go back and forth until a couple of key plays – both offensively and defensively – in the closing seconds allowed UA to upset the Longhorns.
Derrick Williams came through in the clutch once again, saving Arizona's season. The sophomore overcame foul trouble and a down first half to finish with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. It was one of the toughest games for Williams this season, but the UA star again proved just why he is the Wildcats most reliable force.
Williams' presence in the final seconds forced a five-second call on an in-bounds pass; earned a three-point play on the ensuing possession to give Arizona the lead and then proceeded to deny Texas down low on a possession that could have won the contest. The forward has continuously figured out ways to come through in final moments, especially against the tougher opponents.
Jordin Mayes came off the bench to have a career game for the Wildcats. The freshman guard scored 16 points and was on-fire from the outside. Mayes finished 6-for-7 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. He also added two assists and two steals in what was easily the best game of his collegiate career.
Many will question why Mayes didn't see the floor more down the stretch, especially considering Lamont Jones was 0-for-6 from the floor and unable to come up with any real good looks at the basket. Mayes hardly saw the floor after picking up his third foul early in the second half, but it's hard to imagine how Arizona wins this game without Mayes' performance.
Solomon Hill was huge in the first half for UA when Williams was struggling. The sophomore finished with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting and tied Williams with a game-high eight rebounds. Hill hit several key shots in the first half that allowed UA to take a double-digit advantage into the break.
The Wildcats' forward continues to show improvement as the college basketball season draws closer to an end. If Hill can continue to produce the way he did today for the rest of the tournament, Arizona should be able to hang with any team left.
Brendon Lavender made a solid contribution off the bench, scoring eight points while knocking down a couple of big three-point field goals in the first half. His big shots came during a period where Arizona was establishing a sizable lead in the first half.
One player that needs to be recognized for his extremely tough defense is center Kyryl Natyazhko. In recent weeks, the Wildcats big man showed vast improvement on the defensive end of the floor and it all came to fruition against Texas on Sunday.
Natyazhko bodied up Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson with regular success and appeared to drive the Longhorns big men crazy throughout most of the contest. The box score certainly doesn't always tell the story and that was the case with Natyazhko's performance. Without him in the middle, there is no telling what Texas would have done in the paint.
As a squad, UA connected on eight out of 14 three-point field goal attempts on the night. If you remove the big men from the equation (Williams, Jamelle Horne and Jesse Perry) the Wildcats were 8-for-9 from long range.
If there was one factor that outweighed everything else in the Wildcats' victory, it was the play of the defense - especially in the first half. For the game, Texas shot 45.3 percent overall and a mere 27.3 percent from long range. The Longhorns improved on the offensive end on the floor in the second half, but Arizona locked them down so well in the first half that it ultimately prevented them from being efficient enough to win the game later.
UA's victory means that it will face Duke for the first time in nearly a decade. The Blue Devils knocked off the Wildcats in the 2001 National Championship game that year, but the two teams have not met since then. The all-time record for the series is currently tied at three.