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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona starters help Wildcats pound Bears

    Arizona forward Marcus Williams grimaces while putting up a shot over the outstretched arm of Cal forward Theo Robertson in the No. 7 Wildcats 94-85 win over the Golden Bears Thursday in McKale Center. Williams scored a game-high 21 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting.
    Arizona forward Marcus Williams grimaces while putting up a shot over the outstretched arm of Cal forward Theo Robertson in the No. 7 Wildcats’ 94-85 win over the Golden Bears Thursday in McKale Center. Williams scored a game-high 21 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting.

    No. 7 Arizona 94, California 85

    Despite a sluggish start and an even worse finish, the No. 7 Arizona men’s basketball team used hot shooting during the middle of the contest to run by California 94-85 Thursday in McKale Center.

    In the Pacific 10 Conference season opener, the Wildcats (10-1, 1-0 Pac-10) outscored California (8-5, 0-1) by 33 points over 17 minutes of game time starting with just over nine minutes left in the first half to give Arizona a 29-point lead at 74-45 with 12 minutes left.

    But then with 3:30 to go, the Wildcats let a 24-point advantage slip to the final margin of nine as all five starters watched from the bench.

    “”It’s a little upsetting because we wanted to make a statement coming into this game…to the other Pac-10 schools,”” said forward Chase Budinger. “”It’s a little upsetting and disappointing, but it’s a good learning experience.””

    For their efforts, UA head coach Lute Olson said the bench players except for guard Daniel Dillon and forward Bret Brielmaier, members of the squad’s regular rotation, will have to watch film of the closing six minutes Friday.

    “”The reserves get to watch the horror shot by themselves with one coach to see if they could stomach it like we couldn’t on the bench,”” Olson said. “”The horror show will be just open to main actors.””

    In contrast, there will be no such treatment for the starters, who dominated once again in combining to shoot 71 percent (27-of-38). As a team Arizona shot 60 percent for the game.

    “”We’ve played a lot of Arizona teams over the years, but that’s one of the best shooting performances”” I’ve seen, Cal head coach Ben Braun said.

    The Wildcats shot 72 percent (18-of-25) in the first half while limiting Cal to 40 percent shooting and used a 22-4 run, including 12-0 to start the spurt, to pull away from the Golden Bears. Overall in the half they scored 31 of the last 40 points to make a close game decided by halftime.

    “”We’re a typical Arizona team,”” guard Jawann McClellan said. “”That’s been known for over the years. When we go on one of these runs we’ve got to learn to keep teams down.””

    The Wildcats finished the half with a trio of 3-pointers hit within 44 seconds of each other ending when just over one minutes remained, two from Budinger and one from McClellan. On the first two great ball movement led to the field goals, as all five Wildcats touched the ball.

    “”They were unselfish,”” said Cal guard Ayinde Ubaka. “”It didn’t matter who scored on that team as long as they got off a good shot, and (guard) Mustafa (Shakur) did a good job of getting everybody the ball.””

    Said Budinger, “”We pass the ball, we just try to find the open guy every time.””

    Arizona has now won 10 straight games, their longest winning streak since 2002-03, when the Wildcats did it twice. That squad was ranked No. 1 in the nation much of the year and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    Williams stayed around the basket most of the game and didn’t miss a shot, scoring a game-high 21 points on 8-of-8 shooting.

    “”It was quiet,”” Williams said, “”but you’re trying to make sure you go within the flow of the game, making sure there’s nothing forced.””

    Shakur nearly recorded a triple-double, scoring eight points, grabbing nine rebounds and recording eight assists. Forward Ivan Radenovic added 17 points and nine boards, while McClellan (16 points) and Budinger (12) also contributed.

    The Wildcats were just eight points into their 12-0 run that started their first-half barrage when Cal freshman forward Ryan Anderson picked up his second foul and spent the rest of the half on the bench after fouling forward Ivan Radenovic on an eventual three-point play that put the Wildcats up 28-24. Arizona outscored the Golden Bears 23-9 the rest of the half.

    Anderson, who entered the contest among the conference’s leaders averaging 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, scored 16 points and grabbed just four rebounds.

    Shakur suggested that Arizona’s slow start had something to do with players coming back fresh off eating turkey, leading to six turnovers in six minutes, but then the Wildcats picked it up.

    “”The first five, six minutes we didn’t play the way we’ve been playing,”” Olson said. “”Then for the last 14 minutes or so we played Arizona basketball the way we want to play it.””

    At that point Dillon and Brielmaier entered the game, and the Wildcats went with a man-to-man defense, which turned the game around.

    “”I thought as soon as they came in they gave us energy right away,”” Olson said, later adding they have solidified themselves as the first two off the bench, with forward Jordan Hill making a push for the eighth spot.

    As for the rest of the bench Olson said his squad will have to build quite an advantage to play them together again, although he expects them to get better through this experience.

    “”They’ll learn a lesson from this,”” he said.

    And 1

    Before the Phoenix Suns lost to the Washington Wizards Dec. 22, Arizona’s professional and top-ranked college teams hadn’t lost since the Suns fell to the Utah Jazz on Nov. 18, during which time the squads combined for 24 wins, nine from the Wildcats. Arizona’s only loss was the season opener Nov. 12 at Virginia. …

    It wasn’t a lost night for Golden Bear fans, as the No. 20 Cal football team beat No. 21 Texas A & M 45-10 in the Holiday Bowl Thursday. …

    The entire student section was full with members of the Tucson community buying tickets with school not in session, a sight not seen when students have occupied the section for the past year and a half. …

    Walk-on David Bagga entered with 2:28 and hit a layup in his longest stint of the season and second-longest stint of his career.

    – Cameron Jones contributed to this report.

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