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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Losing streak persists

    Hoops Notes

    LOS ANGELES – Not only is it etched into the everlasting world of Statistictopia, but the fact that the UA men’s basketball team has lost all six of its road games this season isn’t exactly something the Wildcats are going to forget quickly.

    “”We recognize that,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger regarding the away game losing streak. “”It’s just one of those things that we’re trying to get over the hump on.””

    “”Winning on the road is tough,”” he added. “”You’ve got the crowd against you, you’ve got the refs against you -ÿyou’ve just got a lot of things against you.””

    That’s not something you have to tell UA interim head coach Russ Pennell, either. He knows his team has lost one-third of its games on the road, and knows just what it takes to get a win in an away game. After all, he’s been coaching since 1990, when many of his current players were in diapers.

    “”I knew how difficult it was winning on the road. I’ve been in this league a long time,”” Pennell said. “”… It’s difficult every place on the road. We’re not the only team that has to fight, claw and scratch.””

    In order, the Wildcats have lost their road games by 1, 15, 14, 16, 23, and 1 points, respectively. The argument can easily be made that winning by a small margin is a whole lot tougher than simply being pounded, as Arizona was by UCLA, 83-60, on Thursday.

    “”We’ve yet to win on the road,”” said UA guard Nic Wise, “”but we played well this game for the first time, so it’s tough to lose like this.””

    So when will the streak finally end? Games at the Washington and Oregon schools and at ASU are the only true road games left, meaning Arizona can’t even go .500 in true road games this season.

    “”Sooner or later we’re going to have to buckle down to win on the road,”” Wise said. “”You can’t just win all your games at home.””

    Added Budinger: “”We’ve got to find deep down in us, when we go on the road -ÿwe’ve got to pick up at least one win.””

    Red-footed stats

    Sometimes trendy isn’t always a good thing.

    Playing against USC, four UA players wore red and white sneakers to go along with their navy road jerseys: Jordan Hill, Jamelle Horne, Brendon Lavender and David Bagga.

    Hill was forced to sit for the final 9:20 of the first half with two fouls and 2 points, though he finished with 14 points. Lavender played just 23.5 seconds and Bagga didn’t play at all.

    Horne didn’t start for the second time all season and committed a last-second foul to give Daniel Hackett the game-winning free throw.

    The last time Pennell started Zane Johnson over Horne, the latter had the best game of his career, registering 19 points and 13 rebounds -ÿboth career highs – against Kansas.

    “”I just wanted to shake things up a little bit,”” Pennell said.

    SoCal no-show

    Only 5,356 turned out for the game, which is nearly half of the Galen Center’s full capacity of 10,258. The turnout was larger than Galen’s season average, 4,630, and USC head coach Tim Floyd said he isn’t too worried about having attendance troubles.

    “”A lot of it was a result of schedule-making,”” Floyd said in last week’s Pac-10 teleconference. “”Every time we played (earlier in the season) it was either during finals week or the Christmas break.

    “”We also had a scheduling flaw where we had our opener on the weekend when the entire student body goes up for the football game in the Bay Area,”” Floyd added. “”That’s not anything that we’re concerned with.””

    Outside of the student section, the crowd remained relatively quiet until the final couple of minutes when USC rallied back.

    But that didn’t matter to Wise.

    “”I try to tune the crowd out. Coach Lute Olson used to tell us all the time, when you hear the crowd getting back into the game, make sure you work the ball. Don’t take quick shots, because that will keep them in the game. Whenever you want to quiet the crowd, you want to get a good possession and get a good bucket.””

    In the end, 5,356 was loud enough for a Trojan victory.

    Playing in their honor

    The Trojans wore gold jerseys with a black patch in memory of two former USC students.

    Will Zarifi, a Tucson native, passed away on Oct. 9 after a three-year battle with brain cancer.

    Ryan Francis was shot and killed on May 14, 2006 while visiting his mother in Louisiana. USC now has a scholarship program in honor of Francis, who was a 19-year-old freshman point guard for the Trojans when he passed away. His jersey number, 12, is now painted at the top of the halfcourt line in Galen Center.

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