Arizona perseveres, takes advantage of Florida's lack of discipline
Two hours of evidence was presented Saturday night in the form of Arizona's ragged, rugged, stunning and ultimately thrilling 65-64 comeback win over Florida, but if there were a judge presiding over the proceedings, it's unclear whether he would be able to give a jury proper instruction.
Both teams provided contradicting testimony as to their preparedness to be a true national contender come March. Some facts on each side seem indisputable. Other statements created more questions than answers. In one particular case, we assumed the statute of limitations had expired, but recidivism reared its ugly head. In the end, a decision was rendered, but will it ultimately hold up under appeal?
Let's play back some of the crucial testimony and see what the judge rules:
And, later on...
"We certainly played well enough to win and in my opinion, really outplayed them for most of the game. But that doesn't make a difference. It's a 40-minute game."
And then, later...
"I'm concerned just because this is a problem for our team that we need to get better at. I think we can correct it, but there's a carelessness with the ball. Not being strong with the ball. All of them. Never mind the last three or four possessions, just being strong with the ball in the last six minutes of the game and getting fouled."
"He unraveled for a few minutes in the first half, but he was able to put that behind him."
From Florida's standpoint, at least there's the excuse of Wilbekin's injury, and we have seen clearly so far this year that the Gators run a much smoother ship with the pass-first guard running the offense and Boynton and fellow shooting guard Mike Rosario playing off that as much as possible. Tonight, Wilbekin spent much of the game as a decoy, and even when he tried to facilitate, it was labored due to his bandaged finger. That left Boynton with the ball in his hands in the waning moments of both halves, and the results were not good at all. He missed a jumper and then committed a killer turnover to allow Arizona a dunk to end the first half, and he had a turnover and the rimmed-out free throw in the final minute. Boynton simply can't be the lead ballhandler in big spots.
Arizona's issues are more subtle, interpretive and potentially longer-lasting. Lyons isn't a point guard. He's trying to fill that role with another guard who can handle in Nick Johnson, but essentially the Wildcats' halfcourt offense is a mystery bag each time down the floor. Sometimes they end up running good stuff and it works. Sometimes they run good stuff and fumble a chance away. Sometimes it's bad. Even as the young frontcourt talent develops, can a team with a clear void at the 1 make a deep run? In a single-elimination tournament like the NCAAs, that tends to be a very dicey proposition.
With all of the main points of contention clarified, the judge can now adequately instruct the jury.
After much deliberation, by virtue of their pulsating last-second win and overall youth, the jury finds the Wildcats not guilty (for now) of the charges against them. As for the Gators, the jury finds them guilty by reason of inanity. They shall be remanded to Gainesville to seek further help.