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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Veterans lead the way for Arizona in win over Oakland

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team looked like a different team in its 85-73 win against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday night in McKale Center.

Unlike prior games this season, the Wildcats started fast, opening a 10-2 lead early, and had consistent offense from three veteran players to pace their scoring.

Arizona (8-4) played at a much more efficient pace, led by junior Solomon Hill and senior Kyle Fogg. Hill finished as Arizona’s leading scorer with a career-high 23 points.

“The story for us was Solomon Hill,” head coach Sean Miller said. “He was spectacular. I thought it was his best game at Arizona.”

Miller said that it wasn’t Hill’s best night because of the scoring, but because of his versatility.

“It’s not just his scoring. It’s his rebounding and he got assists too,” Miller said. “It’s tough to come back from a hard game like Gonzaga. Tonight, he really got that out of his mind.”

Hill posted a double-double with 11 rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes. Fogg and senior Jesse Perry also finished in double figures, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively.

The Wildcats consistently built leads throughout the game, only to have Oakland answer. Arizona grabbed the lead with two big runs, including a 14-0 run in the first half and a 23-6 run to widen the lead in the second half.

The Wildcats, however, could not close the Grizzlies out over the last seven minutes of the game. Oakland chipped away, going on a 10-1 run that cut the lead to six points with six minutes left in the game. Arizona had a 17-point lead at the 10 minute mark.

“We’re still working as a team, still trying to close games out,” Hill said. “I think we still have to work on the defensive end.”

The Grizzlies had three players in double figures, but it was guard Reggie Hamilton who had his own scoring barrage.

Although Hamilton scored 31 points, Miller said he was pleased with the way the Wildcats guarded him.

“We held him to 31 (points). I don’t look at us as being irresponsible,” Miller said. “To me, we gave great effort. We challenged shots.”

Hamilton scored a career-high 41 points in Oakland’s last game, a 82-80 win over Valparaiso.

“He can shoot the ball and drive to the basket. You can see he’s really confident,” Fogg said. “We focused on him, he still had a great game but we got the win.”

Despite cutting the lead down to just six, Hill answered for the Wildcats. Arizona’s offense hadn’t scored since the 8:42 mark when the junior hit two free throws with five minutes left in the game. By the 4:12 mark, the Wildcats had the lead back up to 12 points, highlighted by a reverse layup courtesy of freshman Josiah Turner.

The offense at the end of the game was indicative of the change of tempo the Arizona implemented. The Wildcats ran the floor in transition and scored 10 fast break points and 20 points off of turnovers. The Wildcats also had 42 points in the paint, compared to Oakland’s 22.

“We wanted to be a more up-tempo team today,” Perry said. “We tried to push it right back at them. We play way better just like that.”

Miller said the change in pace is something he would like to see Arizona continue to push.

“We’re working on that. I think picking up full court, really pushing the ball off of misses,” Miller said. “When I watch tonight’s game I hope there’s bits and pieces … where you can foresee that being part of our future in a bigger way.”

The Wildcats had a 40-36 lead at halftime, and 11 points off of turnovers and 18 in the paint.

Arizona closes out its non-conference season at home against Bryant University on Thursday at 5 p.m. in McKale Center. The Wildcats open Pac-12 play against ASU at home on Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m.

And 1:
At the 10:33 mark of the first half, senior Kyle Fogg hit two free throws to become the 46th player to score at least 1,000 career points

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