TULSA, Okla – Derrick Williams averages just under 0.7 blocks per game, not enough to crack the top 250 nationally.
Williams’ block of Wesley Witherspoon with 0:02 remaining propelled the no. 5 seed Arizona Wildcats over the no. 12 seed Memphis Tigers 77-75 Friday afternoon.
In a tournament highlighted by upsets on day one, Arizona (28-7) avoided a similar fate on day two at the hands of Memphis (25-9) while not playing their very best in a game that featured six ties and 14 lead changes.
“Very seldom in this tournament do you advance and really deep down say to yourself ‘we didn’t play as well as we were capable,'” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in the locker room after the victory.
Williams went 9-9 from the freethrow line while scoring a game-high 22 points and adding 10 rebounds to go along with his spectacular block. Williams had a very similar block against Washington’s Darnell Gant with 2.2 seconds remaining to secure an 87-86 victory at McKale Center in February.
“I’m excited. Anytime you win a tournament game and move on to the next round, everybody is excited. We played a great game team tonight, move on to Texas now. We have to play our best game to beat them,” a relieved Williams said in the Arizona locker room.
Arizona’s Lamont “MoMo” Jones contritbuted 18 points and Kyle Fogg added four points and two assists in 23 minutes in his first start in over two weeks as he recovered from a quadracep injury.
The Barton brothers were the leading scorers for the Tigers, Antonio with 17 and Will with 12. Joe Jackson, the hero in the C-USA tournament championship game, finished the game with 10 points, as did Witherspoon.
Fouls were a problem for both squads Friday afternoon. Memphis’ Tariq Black, Charles Carmouche and Jackson all missed significant playing time picking up their fourth fouls early in the second half. Chris Crawford and Witherspoon both finished with four fouls as well for the Tigers.
For the Wildcats, Kevin Parrom fouled out with 4:47 to go in the second half while Jordin Mayes and Fogg both finished the game with four player fouls.
The Wildcats will take on the Texas Longhorns in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday in Tulsa, Okla. The fourth seeded Longhorns held off a late rally and defeated the Oakland Grizzlies 85-81 Friday afternoon lead by Tristan Thompson’s 17 points, 10 boards and 7 blocks.