Top 10 Cougar Plays: #5

February 21st: Taylor Rochestie pulls up for a transition three.

Play in question at the 0:24 second mark; video courtesy ESPN.com.
The ESPN video isn't working, so let's go with CougarChris624's highlight reel on YouTube. Play occurs at the 2:45 mark.

I can't say I've done a lot in pickup basketball. But one thing I have done is sunk an open three in transition, even though common sense says you shouldn't even take that shot in the first place. And man, does it feel good.

Needless to say I can't imagine the kind of cojones it takes to take this shot against the #15 team in the country, on the road, with the game on the line.

Of course, this was just indicative of Taylor Rochestie's season as a whole.

In the beginning, Taylor was off to a great start. He dominated the cupcake portion of the Cougar schedule, scoring, passing out assists and resting on the bench after he ensured a blowout win.

Then, in December, Rochesite's performance took a turn for the worse. It even led Nuss to write a post wondering just where on Earth the effective Taylor went. Suddenly, without the steady hands of Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver at his side, Taylor was human. He was missing shots. Forcing plays. Turning the ball over. What happened to the pass-first point guard that ran our Sweet Sixteen squad?

Turns out, while we had reason to be concerned, Taylor had to take over games at certain points in the season. This team was not going to win, and they certainly weren't heading to the NIT, without a Taylor Rochestie that could score and distribute. And so Taylor kept at it. While most of us were about ready to throw the book at Taylor for taking those 10+ shots a night, he didn't care. In Pac-10 games where he shot more than ten times, we were 6-7. I know, not the shocking winning-related stat you'd have hoped for, but in a 17-16 (8-10) season, it was exactly what we needed to stay alive for the NIT.

This was the game of Taylor's career. Not the play of his career, mind you, that comes later in the countdown. But to walk into Pauley Pavilion and drop a career high 33 against one of the nation's premier defensive programs - well, that's pretty special. And Taylor had to do it against Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday and a team filled with the pick of the litter in high school recruits. It was the have-nots walking into the arena of the have-everythings, and matching them every step of the way.

The 82-81 score from this game would have you believed that we flew down to Los Angeles and left Bennett Ball back in the hotel room. As I pointed out after the game, we didn't do that. We took it to UCLA with only six more possessions than we usually have in a game. The offense was just that good. Well, in reality, Taylor was just that good, with an assist from Klay Thompson's fifteen first-half points.

The fun fact of the game? Aron Baynes had four assists. Klay actually led the team with five. Only six Cougars scored in the game, but four were in double-figures.

Looking back at the game, I can also remember how nervous I was when UCLA actually cut the lead to one with under 10 seconds to play. Good thing Klay Thompson had the long arms to prevent the desperation shot from even reaching the basket.

Taylor's line for the game: 33 points, 9 of 16 shooting, 5 of 7 3pt, 10 of 10 FTs, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. And, most importantly, a transition three that just about sealed the game and caused SportsCenter to introduce the nation to Taylor's brother and the good-luck green warmup jersey.

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