Sunday, December 16, 2012

Better Late than Never

It feels good to be an Arizona fan.  December 15, 2012 will go down as one of the most exciting days in U of A sports history.  In many ways, that game went as expected, but nobody could have expected how it ended.  The game felt mostly lost in the 37th minute when Scottie Wilbekin sunk a three, putting Florida up by six with two and a half minutes left.  It felt far gone when the score had not changed with one minute one the clock.  Then, a string of unlikely things happened.  Now, the Cats are poised to give Sean Miller his 200th win if they can beat Oral Roberts and sweep three games in Hawaii.

This was a day of last minute heroics both on the hardwood and the football field.  Interestingly, two of the Cats' best minutes were at the last minutes of both halves. They ended the 1st half by putting up eight unanswered points in the last 1:23.  And of course, the game ended with an amazing 7-0 run in the last 56 seconds.

Seven points in 0:56 is a ridiculous rate of scoring.  In some ways, it is not unusual for the last minute of a game.  Games that end with a string of foul shots, when shooter after shooter is intentionally put on the line, can produce high scoring rates, but that was not the case with this one.  If you think about it, if there was a game wherein a team put up an average of seven points per minute, that team would end with 280 points on the board.  This year, the Cats have averaged just under 1.9 points per minute.

This year, Arizona has tallied 320 minutes of basketball. For each of those minutes, in even intervals (e.g. 20:00-19:00), I tallied the number of points scored.  This exercise produces an interesting distribution:


Most minutes of games, about one-third of them, end with zero points being scored.  Scoring only one point in a minute is very unusual, and the reasons why should be fairly obvious.  About one quarter of minutes result in two points, and there is a steady decline after that.  This year, the Cats have scored seven points in a one minute interval on two occasions.   The first one was in the second minute of the Texas Tech game.  The second time was the last minute of basketball they have played this season.  Better late than never.

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