With the time ticking off the clock, every fan in McKale Center was standing and cheering.
This season was not supposed to be like this.
However, Arizona found itself defeating Cal 76-72 on Sunday afternoon and now is tied for first in the Pac-10.
"It feels wonderful," Sean Miller said. "One of the major things we are consistent about in our dialogue is that we constantly talk about improving.
"We've got numerous, young players, and only a few veterans, and we knew it was going to take some time to learn all the changes we made this season. Something that has really helped us is that we are a lot better at practice. We move easier, and move faster, and it has translated into our games."
Miller attributes much of the success to the improvement that the team has seen in the past month or so.
"Four or six weeks ago, there was no way we would have won this game today," he said. "When Cal built their lead in the first half, I knew that a team from a few weeks ago would have had a lot more trouble coming back than our team today.
"Had we had a heartbreak loss today, I would have felt just as proud of my guys as I do now. It would have been disappointing, but I'd still be proud of how far they have come at this point in the season."
There was no heartbreak on Sunday due in large part to the fact that Nic Wise simply would not let the UA lose.
"We really wanted to have the ball in Nic's hands, and we wanted either him or Derrick to create a mismatch that would have led to a score," Miller said of the UA play late.
"When those two are working together, they really make the other three players on the court better. Nic did what you love every old, senior player to do. He drove to the basket, and we knew that there would be a high likelihood of him getting fouled. I knew that there was about a 95 percent chance that there would be a call that went our way."
While Arizona is happy about the win, it will not mean much if it follows it with a loss.
"We enjoy it while we're in this room, but right when we leave this room it's back to business," Lamont Jones said. "We don't want to dwell on the fact that we're in first place. Like Nic said in the locker room, we don't want to be tied for first.
"We just have to take care of business now, and everything will work itself out in the end. The season's not over. We have a huge road trip coming up in Washington that we need to focus on."
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