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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA hopes to carry momentum vs. NC State

    The way in which UA point guard Nic Wise reached his 26 points on Monday night may very well be what catapults the Arizona men’s basketball program to 26 straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

    For a team that has struggled thus far in the season, Wise’s game-winning desperation shot with a tenth of a second to defeat Lipscomb could be the season-changing play that catapults the Wildcats into a higher elevation of play.

    It could also be reminiscent of the thriller against Houston last season—a game which dramatically turned the Wildcats’ season around.

    Arizona’s performance Wednesday evening will determine whether Monday’s dramatic finish will be the highlight of the season or the start of a new beginning, as the Wildcats (5-5) take on North Carolina State (8-2) for the first time ever in McKale Center at 8:30.

    Last January, the Wildcats looked to be done and on a verge of a four-game losing streak when Houston guard Aubrey Coleman stepped on Chase Budinger’s face. After the incident, the team had a newfound energy that sparked the Wildcats to a come-from-behind nonconference victory.

    The energy of that game carried over and resulted in a crucial seven-game winning streak.

    “”I think it could be a game like Houston where something crazy happens, and it turns your whole season around,”” Wise of the game against Lipscomb. “”Hopefully this turns out to be with what we need.””

    A win against Lipscomb, even in buzzer-beater fashion, made it easier on the Wildcats heading into Wednesday’s game.

    “”If we would have lost the game, it would have been tougher to prepare for Wednesday’s game,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller. “”It’s going to make it much easier coming off a win going into the game against NC State.””

    The Wildcats got another break on Monday night when it was announced that NC State will be without its leading scorer Tracy Smith, who was suspended one game for criticizing game officials after a 67-59 loss to Wake Forest. Smith averages 17.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

    Smith said the officiating crew “”favored”” Wake Forest. The Wolfpack was whistled for 25 fouls and Smith fouled out.

    Miller wasn’t shy in showing his relief about the absence of the 6-foot-8 Smith, after the Wildcats had trouble with Lipscomb center Adnan Hodzic’s, who registered 34 points and 13 rebounds in McKale Center.

    “”I know their inside player was suspended, thank goodness,”” Miller said. “”I asked for a lot of things for Christmas but I wasn’t sure I was going to get that one. But it looks like Santa delivered that one.

    “”As I was watching (Hodzic) I couldn’t thank (Santa) enough for suspending (Smith),”” Miller added.

    Though the Wildcats have never played NC State, an Atlantic Coast Conference team, Miller knows plenty about the Wolfpack.

    “”NC State is ACC team that is very well coached and they have a terrific tradition. They’re coming into McKale to win the game,”” said Miller, who was an assistant coach at NC State from 1996-2001 under current ASU head coach Herb Sendek.  “”Were going to have to play as well as we can to have a chance to win.””

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