The U of A had expected to win by dominating play under the basket. Instead, it was State's sophomore springboard, Tony Zeno, and transfer Mark Landsberger, a rawboned forward, who dominated the Wildcats' big people. At halftime Arizona's Bob Elliott, the U of A's All-America candidate, had managed but two shots, and only Herm the Germ's long-distance injections kept the team on the radarscope and within five points, 46-41. He was deadly.
Harris' sensational moves figure to provide much of Arizona's scoring this year. Len Gordy, his high school and college teammate and his roommate on the road, has complete admiration for Harris. Whenever anyone asks him who is the best ballplayer he ever saw, he answers, "Herman Harris."
The Germ looked worthy of Gordy's plaudits at the start of the second half when he rifled in two jumpers that put Arizona even closer. From then on the two teams stayed as tight as thieves who mistrust each other until, with 1:47 left, Holliman had a chance to run out the door with the money. State led by 82-79 and Holliman was on the free-throw line shooting one and one. He missed, and Arizona scrambled back to tie the score on a layup by Phil Taylor with 28 seconds remaining. "We made some really immature mistakes," Holliman said later. "We killed their will. They were giving up. And we let 'em back."
In the overtime State was playing without Zeno, who had fouled out, and Landsberger was limping on a knee injured when he drove to the basket on the final play of regulation time. Still, the Sun Devils built an early four-point lead. But Arizona kept popping away, and Harris—with Snowden pleading for a time-out from the sidelines—put the Wildcats ahead by sinking a jumper with 46 seconds left.
Before the cheers had subsided Holliman drove the length of the floor and fed teammate Bill Kucharsky for a layup to give State the lead once again. Obviously this was a game that would be won by the team last in possession of the ball. Arizona's Marshall had it last, and the only place he could get rid of it was in the basket. "Don't you ever bring that ball over to me with two seconds left again," Marshall told playmaker Gary Harrison after the game.
The remark was made in jest, but Marshall had a point. Some people may think it charming to play for the Cactus League championship on the day after Thanksgiving, but with everyone in the desert looking on and with all the pressure, no one wanted to become a turkey just for the sake of trying to be a hero.