With five and a half minutes left to go and whatever momentum or encouragement Arizona had picked up over the Washington trip flowing out the doors of a sold out McKale Center celebrating its 40th anniversary, it was no surprise that Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Mark Lyons were going to step up.
But the seniors had an accomplice in the Cats’ latest fall-behind-early, pour-it-on late victory. And as unpredictable as Arizona being 20-2 this season, the player’s name is Angelo Chol.
After not scoring a single point between Arizona’s return flight from the Diamond Head Classic to last Saturday’s win in Pullman, Chol played a fundamental role in the 73-66 victory over Stanford.
Although the stat sheet may read that he only scored six points (two of his buckets came off gorgeous feeds from Lyons), he grabbed every rebound in sight and ferociously antagonized the Cardinal bigs.
On a night when Grant Jerrett was sitting on the bench injured and Kaleb Tarczewski had more turnovers than rebounds, Chol finally got the chance he had been looking for all season.
As simplified by Sean Miller after the game, if Chol hadn’t stepped up, “it was game over because we didn’t have anybody else.”
Chol admitted that he has been a little upset with the lack of playing time. However, unlike many players who feel overly entitled this day in age, he has never thought about quitting or even putting his head down.
“It’s been frustrating but I didn’t get down on myself,” Chol said. “I believe in coach so I’m going to do what he says.”
On Wednesday night in a red, white, and blue colored arena ready to be awakened from a stagnant offense, Chol answered Miller’s call.
Not to be overshadowed by Chol’s performance was the one by Mark Lyons, who played what Miller called his best game of the season. The fifth year senior accounted for 25 points of his own and dished out six more assists, a number Miller made sure to point out afterwards should have been closer to 10.
Then late in the second half, Hill joined the scoring party with a huge three pointer and a thunderous slam that ended up being the final dagger.
Both seniors expressed their nonchalant of the tremendous second half they put together to keep Arizona atop the Pac-12 standings.
“When we get frustrated as a team, individually we take bad shots,” Hill said, referencing the UCLA loss. “We stayed with it. We knew they would fall sooner or later so we just with it.”
Meanwhile Lyons took the “When the game is on the line, that’s when great players are made” approach. Of course, you’re allowed to say that when you consistently close out games with the efficiency of Michael Phelps in the final leg of an Olympic swim meet.