From Friday night, college basketball action between Arizona and Texas A&M. Arizona led the entire night but the Aggies just kept scratching and clawing their way back. It was a thrilling finish highlighted by a missed Arizona free throw and a 3-pointer by Texas A&M to steal the win. Here are the last couple of sequences,

No pictures, just some thoughts. Closing out games is one of hardest things to get across, mostly because it's instinctual. But certainly experience does factor in. Making free-throws, and especially the front-end of a 1-and-1 is crucial. It's just that simple, make your free-throws and you'll win more games. I remember a team I helped coach one year we had terrible free-throw shooting as a team, something like 50%, we lost several close games. Contrast that with another team I helped coach that had great free-throw shooting, 70%+, we won several games just by making those big free-throws at the end of games.

On the 3-point shot, that's a tough one. Arizona is up by 2 so of course, your priority is to protect the basket first. The shot they gave up was to Nathan Walkup who isn't a starter. So on the one hand you say, well what are the odds that a guy off the bench who's only taken 1 other shot all game and barely played will knock down the game-winning 3-pointer, especially when all they need is 2 points to tie. But on the other hand, how does your defense lose a guy on the perimeter and allow him to take an uncontested shot? Obviously it was a defensive breakdown and probably 9 out of 10 times, Walkup doesn't make the shot but when it is that 1 time, you get burned. If you are Aggies head coach Mark Turgeon, it's that kind of situation where as a coach, if Walkup misses you give him the look like "why d'you take that shot? We only needed a 2-pointer, run the play!!" When he makes it, you just look up to the sky and say "Thank you."


As a coach after close wins or losses like this, I often go over each sequence over and over and think of better ways to go. On wins, I often reflect on how sometimes you just need a little luck, or good thing we ran that play or switched defenses. On losses, it's usually why didn't we run this, or substitute so-and-so, or called timeout, etc... It can drive you crazy, but it's also what's so great about the game.

If you're looking for more buzzer beating plays for your season coming up, take a look at Jay Wright's brand new DVD on Late Game Sets. Coach Wright is the head coach at Villanova. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.