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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Men’s hoops finishes NIT Tipoff with win over hot 3-point shooters

    Arizonas Jamelle Horne scores the last basket of the game as Santa Claras Michael Santos looks at Stegeman Coliseum, Tuesday in Athens, Ga.
    Arizona’s Jamelle Horne scores the last basket of the game as Santa Clara’s Michael Santos looks at Stegeman Coliseum, Tuesday in Athens, Ga.

    Arizona 69, Santa Clara 66

    A week removed from its 72-71 loss to Alabama-Birmingham, the Arizona men’s basketball team was able to adjust to yet another hot 3-point shooting team.

    The Wildcats (3-1) beat Santa Clara (1-4) on Tuesday in the fourth and final round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff, in Athens, Ga., despite the fact the Broncos led 38-36 at the half and made 6-of-12 3s in the opening 20 minutes.

    Santa Clara, however, only sank 2-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half.

    “”Santa Clara is a better team than their record shows, and they have very good players,”” UA interim head coach Russ Pennell told the media in Athens. “”Defensively, after they started to knock down 3s in the first half, we started to tighten up our perimeter pressure, and in the second half we started meeting their guards at half court to make it harder for them to get into their offensive sets.””

    Even with four Wildcats having four fouls each and on the floor, Arizona’s defense tightened in the game’s final minutes.

    Arizona led 67-66 and had the ball with 29 seconds to go. Looking for an open shot, UA forward Chase Budinger double-dribbled near halfcourt with 16.4 seconds left. Santa Clara’s Michael Santos threw a pass intended for big man John Bryant out of bounds, allowing the Wildcats to get the ball back and have forward Jamelle Horne dunk home to make it 69-66.

    Then Santa Clara guard Kevin Foster, who shot 5-for-12 from beyond the arc in the game, missed the would-be game-tying shot in the final seconds.

    The Broncos led by as many as 8 points in the game. A 3-pointer by Troy Alexander – his first in nine attempts this season – put the Broncos up 46-38 just 1:52 into the second half.

    Guard James Rahon also had two 3s for Santa Clara.

    But Arizona’s focus wasn’t on defending the long ball in the first half. Their main goal was finding a way to stop 6-foot-11, 275-pound Bryant, who finished the game with a game-high 24 points to go with 8 boards.

    “”We focused so much on Bryant in the first half and I thought we did a good job,”” Pennell said on 1490 AM “”The Source”” after the game. “”In the meantime, I think we gave up too many looks on the perimeter.””

    Budinger made as many field goals as Bryant, 10, and came up with 22 points to go with five rebounds. He was 2-of-3 from the outside, making him 6-for-7 in Georgia after shooting 4-for-4 in an 86-52 win against Mississippi Valley State on Monday.

    “”This is a huge win for us,”” Budinger said on “”The Source”” after the game. “”We were playing from behind the whole game. … We needed these two wins. They’re huge for us. They’ll give us some confidence heading into our next game.””

    UA forward Jordan Hill finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds. Guard Nic Wise had nine points, and Garland Judkins and Horne each had six, though Horne only played for seven minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls.

    For the second straight game, Arizona started on a 12-0 tear. But falling behind and then coming back at the end isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Pennell said, comparing Santa Clara to Washington State, Oregon State and ASU.

    “”Santa Clara is a lot like some of the teams in our league,”” he said. “”I think games like this do prepare you for down the line, and winning games in this fashion has to be good.””

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