One of the very best college basketball games of the season aired on Saturday night, ending with the Arizona Wildcats nipping the Cal Golden Bears 107-105 in three thrilling overtimes.
Saturday night's road win made it a rare sweep of the Bay Area schools (Cal and Stanford), and kept the surprising Wildcats in first place in the Pac-10 men's basketball conference by a game over UCLA.
This one was both wild and well-played, with Arizona's bench (it goes eleven deep) trying to keep pace with Cal's iron-man starting five, which its Coach Mike Montgomery stuck with until they fouled out.
The Wildcats seemed sunk at the end of regulation, and again in the first overtime, before scrappy MoMo Jones pulled off hugely clutch plays to extend things for another five minutes.
His three-point play with seconds left in regulation on a driving shot on the right baseline over a much-taller and wider player was remarkable in both execution and timing.
Jones and Kevin Parrom, another native New Yorker who also found his way out to the desert university, loomed large throughout the contest. Parrom is about 6-5 and not especially bulky, yet he maneuvered easily underneath and around the hoop for much of the game, scoring a career-high 25 points.
Arizona's players seemed almost too exhausted to do a lot of celebrating after the three-hour game, but the smiles were big. A magical victory over an evenly matched opponent on the road is nothing but sweet.
Now, the other, sad side of the coin:
The ASU Sun Devils lost both of their games up in the San Francisco area this weekend, though, yet again, they were competitive and in it until the final horn.
The old saw that losing begets losing is alive over in Tempe this season, though we still believe that the local school will rise up and upset one or more of the conference leaders before it's over.
Coach Herb Sendek would be thrilled if that happens sooner than later, say, this coming Sunday night, when Arizona drives up Interstate 10 to the Wells Fargo Arena to take on the Devils.
The Cats beat ASU at home earlier in the season, a little more than 24 hours after the Tucson Shootings. Once again, it was a close one until the final minutes, when Arizona pulled away to an 80-69 win.