BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The Arizona Wildcats had the ball, down one with 30 seconds and no timeouts left — right where the Colorado Buffaloes wanted them.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle doesn't believe in the foul-'em philosophy. Besides stopping the clock and giving opponents uncontested free shots, putting the ball in his players' hands at the end also puts all the pressure on their shoulders.
"I think there's more pressure on the offense in those situations than on the defense and we believe in defense," Boyle said.
Arizona coach Sean Miller had burned all of his timeouts to give his players a chance to catch their breath and combat the altitude in their first trip to Boulder since 1973. So, he couldn't stop the clock and set up a play in the frenetic final half-minute.
After the 'Cats worked the ball around, Kevin Parrom air-balled a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer and the Buffaloes escaped with a 64-63 win on Saturday.
"Honestly, I don't even know what happened," said Carlon Brown, who led the Buffaloes with 19 points but missed a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that might have dampened the drama a bit. "I ran back after I missed the shot and they passed the ball around like three or four times and Parrom took the shot and air-balled it. And then, this guy right here (Austin Dufault) grabbed me and said, 'We won! We won!' And I was like, 'I know, AD, what are you talking about?'
"I thought the game was tied," acknowledged Dufault. "I saw Nate (Tomlinson) running down the floor throwing his fist in the air, and I was like, 'Why's he so excited about overtime?' And I looked up at the scoreboard and I realized we were up one. I don't know how I didn't realize that.
"But I was so focused on the possession."
Just as Boyle preaches at practice, where twice a week he puts a lid on the starters' basket, forcing them to focus on making stops and altering the scout team's shots down the stretch to stave off a comeback.
"So, the only way we can win is if we defend and get stops," Brown said. "The mindset is stop or you lose."
The Buffaloes (13-6, 5-2 Pac-12) thrive off that kind of pressure.
"When it came down to the last shot or the last stop, I wanted to make both," Brown said.
When he missed a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 30 seconds left and the Wildcats corralled the board, Brown hustled back on defense to try to win this heart-stopper at that end of the floor.
A lot of coaches would have had his players foul in the closing seconds to make sure they get the final shot instead.
"Oh, no way. No way," Boyle said. "Our philosophy defensively is we are going to get stops. We're about defense and we're about rebounding. The thing that frustrated me about tonight's game was 18 offensive rebounds (for Arizona). That was a breakdown. We dodged a bullet with that. But we're going to win that game with our defense.
"We're going to make them beat us making a shot, making a play. Now, if they make a basket at the buzzer and they beat us, hey, they beat us. But, by fouling them, you stop the clock and you put them on the line and now they've got a chance to get two free shots and now you're down one and all the pressure is on you."
Miller said he didn't regret not saving a timeout.
"In hindsight, I would do the same thing again," he said. "By taking all those timeouts, we put ourselves in a position to win."
So, the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3) worked for the buzzer-beater on the run.
"Coach communicated well to us from the bench and we knew what play we wanted to run and we executed it," the Wildcats' Kyle Fogg said. "We just weren't able to get the shot we wanted."
"Just didn't get it done at the end," said Jesse Perry, who led Arizona with 20 points and 10 rebounds. "We did everything that we came here to do. But it came down to the stretch and we just couldn't make the big shot."
Perry said not having a timeout to collect their thoughts and catch their breath hurt the Wildcats.
"The crowd was loud, it was kind of hard for coach to call the play from over the bench in that amount of time because guys were all over the place," Perry said. "I think it's really up to all the guys on the court. We really didn't do a good enough job of just demanding the ball. We didn't want the shot. The 3-point shot . we could have attacked the basket and get some tip-ins. If it went in, I would have told you a different story. Right now, no."
Miller didn't want to dwell on that errant shot at the buzzer, noting his team was 3 for 20 from long range, and he said if he had to do it again, he wouldn't save a timeout for that situation.
"It always seems like you're going to diagram this great play, but many times if you look over history, it's a second shot, it's a player driving, it's an opportunity to get fouled," Miller said. "We ran one of our favorite plays, one that worked earlier in the game. We had a couple of opportunities and it didn't work."
Follow Arnie Stapleton on Twitter @arniestapleton