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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA streaks past Cougars

    UA forward Jordan Hill locks in for the dunk during Arizonas 66-56 win over Washington State Saturday in McKale Center. Hill scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, giving the Wildcats a weekend sweep over the Washington schools.
    UA forward Jordan Hill locks in for the dunk during Arizona’s 66-56 win over Washington State Saturday in McKale Center. Hill scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, giving the Wildcats a weekend sweep over the Washington schools.

    Arizona 66, Washington State 56

    For most of the season, the Arizona men’s basketball team has been dangerously reliant on its three starting juniors.

    After all, this was the same three – the Big Three – who combined for 140 points over the Wildcats’ previous two games and have averaged 68 percent of the team’s points in the season.

    But on any given day, the Wildcats (14-8, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference) could have a Big Four, Big Five or just a big game altogether.

    Freshman Kyle Fogg and sophomore Zane Johnson were big contributors during a 66-56 Wildcat win in McKale Center on Saturday as Arizona took down Washington State (12-9, 4-5) with a second-half surge.

    “”I really don’t know what it is about him, but he’s very opportunistic, and it seems to me that anytime we really need something positive to happen, Kyle’s in that mix,”” UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said of Fogg. “”It could be a steal, it could be a driving layup, it could be hit free throws. The thing that amazes me about Kyle Fogg is he’s just got no fear.””

    And although Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and Chase Budingerÿweren’t at the peak of their production on Saturday, they still combined for 62 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring total. They just didn’t pick it up until the second half.

    “”I kind of needed to just stop settling for jump shots,”” said Budinger, who scored a team-high 19 points on just 5-for-17 shooting to go with a 7-for-7 performance from the free-throw line. “”I had to get to the rim and get to the free-throw line and that’s what I did. I was more aggressive taking the ball to the hoop and getting easy free throws (in the second half).””

    The Wildcats got an offensive boost from Johnson, who netted 10 points, and Fogg, whose 15 points were one shy of his career-high that was set on Thursday against Washington.

    “”I thought the first half – I thought we played well, I just thought we were running uphill a bit,”” Pennell said. “”I don’t know if that’s just the energy we used against Washington, or the length of a season, or an 11:00 start.

    “”We don’t like our guys to use excuses, so I won’t use any either,”” Pennell added “”… But the second half we came out and got aggressive.””

    Arizona was down 39-32, and then took off.

    With 13:25 left in the game, Wise knocked down a 3-pointer for the first half of his 6 total points. He stole the ball on the other end of the floor, and then Budinger made his first 3-pointer of the game, cutting WSU’s lead to 39-38, waking up the crowd in the arena.

    Arizona’s Big Three combined for 10 unanswered points, and Fogg ended a 16-0 UA run with a layup, putting Arizona ahead, 48-39.

    After Taylor Rochestie scored a basket for the Cougars, Arizona went on another 8-0 run, thanks to a Wise jumper and 3-pointers from Budinger and Johnson.

    “”I think my confidence is up, but I think it’s the whole team,”” Johnson said. “”I think when one person plays hard and one person just dives after the ball, everyone else is following him.””

    The 24-2 run gave the Wildcats a 56-41 cushion with 4:25 to go.

    Budinger scored 17 of his points and Wise scored all 6 of his points in the second half.

    Hill scored 16 total points, with half of them coming in the final 20 minutes. He also pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds while helping to hold WSU’s big man, Aron Baynes, to 12 points and 14 rebounds.

    Each team finished shooting an identical 22-for-55 (40 percent) from the floor, but Arizona went into halftime down 28-23. Heavy defense in the second half, however, let the Wildcats surge offensively.

    Only Rochestie kept the Cougars in the game, scoring 12 straight points for his team during a 12-minute stretch.

    “”We can’t keep letting them score on us,”” said Rochestie, who scored a game-high 22 points. “”We know what works and what doesn’t. We know that we can’t keep letting them go on long runs.””

    Three other Cougars made baskets down the stretch, but by then, it was too late.

    “”The second half felt like a bad dream,”” said WSU forward Daven Harmellng. “”Everything was getting away from us. Arizona is a very explosive team, especially in the second half.””

    And 1

    WSU beat ASU in Tempe, 65-55 on Thursday night. The last time UA and WSU met up, on Feb. 23, the Wildcats beat the Cougars by the same score. …

    Hill and Budinger have each scored 383 points this season, but Hill is averaging .8 points more per contest because he has played in one less game.

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