Player of the Game: Gardner, a big second half

Is there a script for this? The Cats get down early. Jason Gardner struggles, taking ill advised shots. Then, as if on-cue, the Cats come storming back in the second half and those same rushed shots start falling for Gardner. The Arizona point guard by no means played a perfect game but, flawed or not, it was Gardner's ability in the clutch that propelled Arizona into the overtime against UConn.

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There is no better player in the nation at capping a run than Gardner. It's like there is a magic switch he can turn on when the team needs it most. How many times has a Gardner three given the Cats the lead? How many breakaway lay-ins has he had to ice a game? Against the Huskies Gardner did it again and again, but in the end he came up one shot short.

Gardner scored 30 points and pulled down four rebounds in the 100-98 overtime loss.

Gardner struggled in the first half. He rushed shots and repeatedly over penetrated into the lane, finding himself stuck without a good shot and no viable pass options. In the first 20 minutes Gardner had more turnovers than field goals.

Then, whatever he did in the locker room at the half worked and worked well. Gardner stormed out and scored 23 points in the second half.

Three times in the final seven minutes he hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a lead. A longball from the corner gave the Cats a 75-73 lead. Following Taliek Brown's three-pointer, Gardner answered right back and his three regained the lead 78-76.

Gardner had one more big shot in him. Down one he hit another three-pointer with 41 seconds left to give the homecourt Cats a 91-89 lead.

Unfortunately, the Huskies tied it in regulation and the magic didn't carry-over to the overtime period. Gardner managed just a lone free throw over the final five minutes. It appeared that Gardner did the next best thing to nailing a three when he was fouled beyond the arc. The referee ruled that he was fouled prior to the shot, and he was awarded two, not three free throws.

Gardner did dish out five assists, all during the second half, but he also turned the ball over five times as well.

For his courageous play, Jason Gardner is the Arizona Health Player of the Game.

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