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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    J-Mac’s attack is back

    UA junior guard Jawann McClellan celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the first half of Arizonas 71-47 win over ASU in McKale Center last night. McClellan made 3 first half-3pointers and scored 14 points in the game after going without a 3-pointer  in the last five games.
    UA junior guard Jawann McClellan celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the first half of Arizona’s 71-47 win over ASU in McKale Center last night. McClellan made 3 first half-3pointers and scored 14 points in the game after going without a 3-pointer in the last five games.

    Jawann McClellan crouched in the corner, caught the ball and released a low arching parabola. As the ball went through the net, McClellan raised both arms in the air signaling a 3-pointer and at the same time saying Hallelujah.

    It was his first made 3-pointer since Jan. 4 at Washington. The Houston native was 0-of-15 in the last five games.

    “”I’m the emotional leader of this team and I haven’t really been showing emotion in the five losses,”” said McClellan, who scored 14 points on 4-of-7 from the field (all 3-pointers) in leading No. 17 Arizona (14-5, 5-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) to a 71-47 rout of ASU (6-14, 0-9) in McKale Center last night.

    UA head coach Lute Olson and McClellan had a private meeting on Monday when Olson told him, “”You’re a shooter, shoot.””

    “”The way you’re going to mess up is if you think too much,”” said Olson, who compared McClellan to a baseball player in a slump and a golfer thinking about his swing.

    The phone calls from back home, the bad knees, and the team’s losing streak didn’t help McClellan in forgetting his struggles.

    “”You try not to think about all the misses,”” the guard said, “”but when you have people from back home that just keep calling you and calling you, (asking) what’s wrong with you and (saying) you don’t look the same, that stuff messes with your head.””

    So when that 3-pointer from the corner in the first half found the bottom of the net, McClellan said to himself, “”Finally, about time.””

    The shot gave Arizona 20-18 lead after it faced its only deficit at 18-17. The Wildcats never trailed again. It also gave his teammates confidence that the Wildcats would be okay, despite playing without forward Marcus Williams, who was suspended for violation of unspecified team rules.

    Point guard Mustafa Shakur, who scored eight points and dished out seven assists, saw the ball in the air and knew it would spark McClellan.

    “”That’s the one right there, that’s the one and it went in,”” Shakur said. “”I was so happy because after that I knew he was going to feel really good about himself.””

    The Wildcats held a one-point advantage at 24-23 with four-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, before going on a 13-2 run to end the half and head into the locker room with a 37-26 lead.

    McClellan made a 3-pointer from near-NBA range during the run along with a 3-pointer with four seconds left.

    “”Luckily, I just came out and hit shots, and I’ve been holding that emotion in for a long time,”” McClellan said.

    The Wildcats would have another spurt in the second half, running off 10 straight points to increase a 42-34 lead to 52-34.

    Chase Budinger led the Wildcats with 21 points and 10 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.

    The last time Williams was benched, Budinger scored a career high 32 points. Williams, who was benched by Olson in the second half against NAU Nov. 15, indirectly helped Budinger get back on track.

    Arizona scored the first eight points of the game and held ASU without a field goal for the initial 4:16.

    ASU outscored Arizona 11-5 to crawl back within two points, but a 34.7 percent shooting clip and a disadvantage in rebounding didn’t help the Sun Devils, who remain winless in the Pac-10.

    Christian Polk scored 11 points to lead ASU and Serge Angounou added 10 points off the bench. ASU’s starting guards, Polk and Jerren Ship combined to shoot 7-of-25 from the field, as Arizona’s defense allowed a season low 47 points.

    Olson finally decided to empty his bench to the point where walk-on David Bagga should have been on the edge of his seat in the first half.

    Everyone available – except Bagga – played in the first half, including Mohamed Tangara, who was an immediate energy boost, taking a charge and scoring two points in five minutes. Tangara was taken to the University Medical Center after taking an elbow to the head at the end of the first half.

    Freshman Jordan Hill scored a career-high 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 32 minutes, filling in for Williams.

    Daniel Dillon, Nic Wise and Fendi Onobun all played over eight minutes, allowing the starters to receive less minutes than usual.

    The Wildcats have now beaten ASU 11 straight times, and with No. 4 North Carolina on tap Saturday as well as three more consecutive home games, the struggling Sun Devils may have been the perfect prey for Arizona’s hunger to regain its winning ways.

    “”It was just a great effort, where the team gets its swagger back,”” Shakur said.

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