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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Foul trouble limiting Hill

    UA forward Jordan Hill dunks home two of his career-high 17 points during Arizonas 88-64 victory over Adams State Nov. 21 in McKale Center. That game illustrated Hills foul trouble, as he only played 20 minutes despite hitting all seven of his shots against an undersized opponent because he picked up four fouls.
    UA forward Jordan Hill dunks home two of his career-high 17 points during Arizona’s 88-64 victory over Adams State Nov. 21 in McKale Center. That game illustrated Hill’s foul trouble, as he only played 20 minutes despite hitting all seven of his shots against an undersized opponent because he picked up four fouls.

    Along with turnover problems, the biggest recurring issue for the Arizona men’s basketball team through six games has been forward Jordan Hill’s inability to stay out of foul trouble.

    Hill averages a foul every 6.3 minutes and has picked up at least four total fouls and two first-half fouls in four of Arizona’s first six games.

    His worst fouling half came Sunday at Kansas when he picked up a pair of fouls in the first three minutes, causing Arizona to go deep into its thin frontcourt rotation the rest of the half against the Jayhawks’ talented bigs.

    With another physical, deep front line on tap Sunday when No. 9 Texas A&M comes to Tucson, whether Hill struggles through more foul trouble could go a long way toward deciding the game.

    “”It’s no secret we need him Sunday, especially against teams with a bunch of size,”” said guard Jawann McClellan. “”He’s still young. He has to learn to just stay on his feet, and everything can’t be a block. That’s his main thing. He wants to block everything, and he just has to get his timing down, and he’ll do that because I think the more and more we get in the season he learns that we need him in ballgames.””

    McClellan said many of Hill’s fouls are cheap ones that he can stay away from, saying the Wildcats can only afford for him to commit aggressive fouls.

    Hill said his constant foul trouble makes it harder to be aggressive, but he added that he did time blocks well twice Wednesday against Cal State-Fullerton.

    UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill cautioned that Hill is a young player still learning the game of basketball. He has stepped into the position of being Arizona’s premier big man after enduring less pressure in a reserve role last season, causing O’Neill to say more has been expected of him than is really fair.

    Still, his package of athleticism, size and skill is one O’Neill wants to stay out of foul trouble.

    “”The more Jordan’s on the floor, obviously, the better we’ll be,”” he said. “”Jordan I think is still finding himself a little bit, but when he’s on the floor we’re a better team.””

    Double trouble at the point

    Although O’Neill often substitutes by feel, one duo that seems to be working lately has been pairing guards Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise together in the same backcourt.

    Doing so allows Bayless to move to the off guard spot with Wise running the point.

    Wise played a career-high 32 minutes Sunday against Kansas, allowing Bayless to score 19 points while playing off the ball much of the time.

    “”Me and Jerryd love playing together,”” Wise said. “”He always tells the coaches he doesn’t like to guard point guards for some reason. It’s always going to be tough for other teams to guard two point guards, how it was last year when Oregon had two point guards. They gave other teams hell, so that’s what we’re looking for this year.””

    Wise said Bayless plays better off the ball because he does not have to try to do too much, which he sometimes does as seen in his team-high 4.2 turnovers per game, as Wise can run the offense and let Bayless concentrate on scoring.

    “”I like playing with Nic,”” Bayless said after the Kansas game. “”It takes a lot of pressure off me playing with Nic when he can bring it up sometimes.””

    An upsetting possibility

    The Wildcats are not used to being the underdogs in nonconference play in McKale Center.

    They had won 29 nonconference games in a row before losing to No. 4 North Carolina by 28 points in McKale last season, a game that snapped the fourth-longest such streak in the nation.

    Now the Wildcats face the possibility of losing three nonconference home games within a calendar year if they cannot upset the No. 9 Aggies, who have won all seven of their contests.

    “”We’re looking forward to upsetting them,”” Wise said. “”They’re a top-15 team, being undefeated. That makes us want to give it that much more energy.””

    O’Neill said that unlike in the NBA when teams sometimes soften up after a long winning streak, college teams gain confidence with such a run.

    “”I think they’ll come in with the swagger that a top-10 team should, and it’s our job to match their intensity,”” he said.

    O’Neill still not satisfied with ‘D’

    Despite holding Fullerton to 33.8 percent shooting Wednesday, O’Neill said the team only played “”so-so”” defense although overall Arizona did some good things in rolling to a 26-point win.

    “”I still don’t think we’re near where we need to be and probably won’t be for another 10 or 12 games, maybe not even then, I don’t know,”” O’Neill said, “”but the fact that we played a pretty solid 40 minutes I liked … and to me played probably our hardest, most complete game other than Kansas in terms of intensity and playing well and playing together.””

    Hack-a-DeAndre?

    Aggies 7-foot, 260-pound center DeAndre Jordan shoots 85.7 percent from the field, although O’Neill noted it’s not tough to shoot such a high percentage on dunks.

    From the free-throw line it’s a completely different story for the freshman ranked as Rivals.com’s No. 8 overall prospect, No. 2 center and best prep player from Texas in the class of 2007.

    Jordan, who averages 9.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, has hit just four of 24 free throws for a pitiful 16.7 percent, prompting McClellan to say the Wildcats could intentionally foul him near the end of the game if need be.

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