Arizona Wildcats football, basketball complete day for the ages

Christian Petersen

Some in Tucson are calling Saturday the craziest day in UA athletics history. It's hard to disagree with them.

If the Mayans really are right, and the world ends next week, the Arizona Wildcats can say they went out with a bang.

On Saturday, the football and basketball teams gave the UA faithful a day they will never forget.

Arizona football played the year's first bowl game. Playing in front of a sparse crowd at the New Mexico Bowl in chilly Albuquerque, the Wildcats did not hold a lead until just 42 seconds remained on the clock. They began the fourth quarter down by 17 points to Nevada, and they were down 10 with less than four minutes to go.

One quick touchdown drive later, and the 'Cats were still hanging on by a nail. Then came an opportune bounce on an onside kick, which fell into the hands of Marquis Flowers.

Arizona marched the ball down the field, and three plays later, senior quarterback Matt Scott, who was playing the final game of his collegiate career, connected with Terrence Miller, another senior, for the game-tying score.

John Bonano, yet another senior, hit the extra point, giving Arizona their first lead of the game, 49-48.

Flowers picked off an errant pass from Nevada, and the Wildcats celebrated their first bowl win in four years.

The UA faithful had about six hours to recover. Why? Because the biggest basketball game of the year was set to hit McKale Center at 8 p.m.

In front of a capacity crowd of 14,545, No. 8 Arizona and No. 5 Florida squared off on the hardwood. The Gators dominated nearly the entire game. For a team so experienced and talented, even a miracle comeback seemed farfetched for the Tucson faithful.

As the final minute of regulation hit, Florida led by six points and had the ball.

Nick Johnson forced a turnover on an inbounds play. Kevin Parrom grabbed the ball and was fouled, and then sank two crucial free throws.

Arizona forced another turnover. Senior forward Solomon Hill drove through the lane and laid the ball in. McKale Center erupted as the 'Cats pulled within two.

Arizona forced another turnover. Grant Jerrett was fouled in the act of shooting, and stepped to the line. The first one clanked, but the second one sailed through. 64-63, 26 seconds left.

Florida finally worked the ball up the court without turning it over, and eventually drew a foul that sent them to the line. Kenny Boynton had his free throw rim out, giving UA just one more chance.

Mark Lyons called for a high screen, and then attacked the rim. Shooting over 6-9, 249 lb. behemoth Patric Young, Lyons banked the game-winning runner to give Arizona their first lead in nearly two hours.

The Gators were unable to score on their final possession. The buzzer finally sounded. Euphoria took over the arena.

Arizona Wildcat fans have seen a lot of heartbreak over the years. On Saturday, all of the time spent frustrated and disappointed all suddenly seemed worth it.

We could go 100 years back and not find a day that was so unpredictable and meaningful to UA athletics.

Were there bigger wins? Sure.

But were there two games in one day as wild, crazy and flat-out exciting as the two we all saw on Saturday? Not a chance.

Two wins, by two points, with the Wildcats holding the lead for one minute and 43 seconds combined?

Even the Mayans think that's a little wacky.

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