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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Texas (A&M;): Hold ’em

    UA guard Jawann McClellan concentrates on a free-throw attempt during Arizonas 91-65 win over Cal State-Fullerton on Wednesday in McKale Center. McClellan and fellow Houston native Nic Wise will face a number of Texan foes they played against in high school when the Wildcats host Texas A&M on Sunday at 4 p.m.
    UA guard Jawann McClellan concentrates on a free-throw attempt during Arizona’s 91-65 win over Cal State-Fullerton on Wednesday in McKale Center. McClellan and fellow Houston native Nic Wise will face a number of Texan foes they played against in high school when the Wildcats host Texas A&M on Sunday at 4 p.m.

    Everything’s big in Texas. Even friendly rivalries, it seems.

    With three Houston natives on the Arizona men’s basketball team, the unranked Wildcats (4-2) will play host to No. 9 Texas A&M on Sunday at 4 p.m. in McKale Center in what will be a kind-of reunion.

    UA guards Jawann McClellan and Nic Wise – and forward Fendi Onobun, who won’t play because of lingering shin splints – played against many current Aggies (7-0) in high school and in the Houston AAU circuit, befriending them in the process.

    “”But it ain’t gonna be too friendly on Sunday,”” said McClellan with a smile. “”It’s gonna to be difficult playing against people you pretty much grew up with. But we have to come out and get a big win.””

    Added Wise: “”Before and after the game it’ll be friendly, but during the game we’ll act like we don’t even know them.””

    First-year A&M head coach Mark Turgeon leads a team of 18, with 16 players Texas natives, including five from Houston. He also has an assistant under him, Byron Smith, who works with McClellan in the offseason.

    Smith coached the AAU Houston Swoosh squad from 2004-2007 and served as the interim head coach for the Harlem Globetrotters in 2002-2003.

    “”He’s a great man who has helped me with my game a lot,”” McClellan said.

    DeAndre Jordan, a 7-foot center, is the only Houston representative in the Aggies’ starting lineup. Jordan, who Wise said he was very close to throughout high school, has scored most of his points in the paint this season, as he is 30-of-35 from the field (85.7 percent).

    Jordan does have a weakness, however, shooting only 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from the free-throw line.

    “”They’re big and strong,”” McClellan said. “”But they’re not unbeatable.””

    With A&M starting three players 6 feet, 7 inches or taller, it’s probable that UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill will use a larger rotation as well.

    But one small player he’s brought off the bench for many minutes lately is the 5-foot-10 Wise.

    Wise played a career-high 32 minutes and dished out a career-high six assists Sunday against No. 4 Kansas and played 19 minutes Wednesday night in a 91-65 win over Cal State-Fullerton. He had four assists and three steals against the Titans.

    “”Coach told me at the beginning of the season that if I play a lot of minutes, I could lead the Pac-10 in steals,”” said Wise, who has six steals on the year. “”I do have quick hands. I’m small and kind of sneaky. I’m just helping my teammates when the other players are driving on them. I can just sneak in behind them and knock the ball out.””

    After starting the season No. 17 nationally, the Wildcats are looking to wedge themselves back into the national top 25 with a win over A&M.

    To do that, the team must hit the boards with aggression – Arizona averages 33.2 rebounds per game to A&M’s 43 – and handle the ball better.

    The Wildcats had 18 turnovers to Fullerton’s 14 – the UA’s highest total all season outside of the 25 slip-ups against Kansas.

    “”We can’t have that many turnovers,”” McClellan said. “”We have to come out in the first half and take better care of the ball.””

    The contest is sure to be an aggressive, emotional battle with national standings, team maturity and state pride on the line for both teams.

    “”Even though I’m not going to be playing, it’s going to be really exciting to me,”” Onobun said. “”I remember during the summertime I was already talking smack to (A&M guard) B.J. Holmes. It’s going to be a great game and a great atmosphere.””

    And 1

    Arizona is 5-0 all-time against A&M. The Wildcats last faced the Aggies on Dec. 28, 1995, winning 88-44. … President George W. Bush attended the Aggies’ 76-63 win over Alabama on Wednesday in College Station, Texas.

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