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Face Off

January 26, 2009

(ASU 53, at UA 47)
(at UA 96, Houston 90 - OT)

Cats win! Cats win!

Or, just as shockingÖ

Cats go to overtime! Cats go to overtime!

Or, better yetÖ

Horne didnít foul! Horne didnít foul!

You know you were thinking the same thing when Wiseís game-tying shot went through the hoop. Oh no, whereís Jamelle? Iím surprised Russ didnít run onto the court and make the tackle himself.

Man, did we need that win. Yeah, it was Houston and not a Pac-10 team. But it wouldnít have mattered if we were playing Sam Houston, Houston Nutt, or even Whitney Houston. At this point we just needed to beat somebody.

This team sure doesnít do it the easy way, does it? Everyoneís going to talk about the 12-point deficit when Chase got stomped on, but the Cats were still down 10 with 52.6 seconds left.

Take a look at that again. Erasing a ten-point margin in 53 seconds is a historic-type comeback. In case you missed it (and many people did) hereís how you blow a double-digit lead in less than a minute:

Give up a three.
Make two free throws.
Give up another three.
Miss one of two free throws.
Give up a layup.
Throw the ball out of bounds.
Give up a basket.
Miss two free throws.
Give up a third three.

Thatís a 13-3 run in 52.6 seconds. Nic Wise had eight of the points by himself.

Now we just need to do it with the Final Four on the line and weíll be even.

You have to give the coaching staff credit for having all those timeouts left to use at the end. You donít foul as quickly or get that turnover if you donít have your defense set.

You also donít get to enjoy the comeback if you donít win the game. But the Cats played D (Houston missed all 10 shots in OT) and the Cats made their free throws (6 of 7) and they sealed the deal.

No player has ever made two free throws while looking more scared than Kyle Fogg did when he stepped to the line with 7.4 seconds left in overtime and the UA up just two. But he sank them both to cap a 14-point night. Ride the confidence, young man.

If Iím Russ hereís my speech during the ensuing 30-second timeout:


And Hill still commits a loose-ball foul with 2.5 seconds left. Thankfully, you canít lose Ďem all.

Weíll cut Jordan a little slack. After all, he did score 30 points, grab 18 boards, and block four shots while playing all 45 minutes. The Mountain is back.

Maybe heíll have a rock-solid running mate now that Chase has released his inner thug. Getting stepped on might end up being the best thing that ever happened to him. If so, we should have done it a long time ago. We could have told Jamelle there were three seconds left and Chaseís face had the ball.

(Sorry, itís just too easy.)

During the ruckus it warmed my heart to see Lute joining in the pointing and yelling. He looked ready to teach that Houston hooligan a lesson or two. Donít lose that fire, Coach.

Alas, as great Ė and needed Ė as this win was, it doesnít change the fact that weíre 2-5 in conference play. Did you notice that OSU swept the Bay this weekend? We now have a battle on our hands just to get back into 8th place.

Remember how Cal, Stanford and UCLA beat us by a combined 53 points? Remember how ASU held us to 30% shooting? The worst part is we may not have even seen the best team in the league yet. Thatís right, at this moment the team alone atop the standings is the Washington squad that comes to town Thursday night.

Can we just end the season right now? This team is still short-handed. Theyíre still under-talented. There are going to be more than enough painful moments. I donít want to remember these guys like that.

I want to hold onto 96-90. I want to remember the miracle comeback. I want to smile as I think back to the Chase Face game.

The game we didnít foul.

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