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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tournament update: Wildcats blow out Wisconsin

    PHILADELPHIA – If the No. 9 seed Wisconsin Badgers(19-12) looked at tape of this season’s Arizona Wildcats, they probably didn’t know what hit them Friday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.

    No. 8 seed Arizona (20-12) jumped out early and sustained a level of play it had not shown throughout the year, handily beating the Badgers 94-75.

    “”We were waiting for this moment,”” said junior forward Ivan Radenovic who scored 18 points. “”We played a great game, probably one of our best games.””

    Senior guard Hassan Adams was back from a two-game suspension for suspicion of DUI to lead the Wildcats with 21 points, 17 coming in the second half.

    The Wildcats scored more points than they have in any game except the double-overtime victory at Washington and the most Wisconsin has allowed all season long.

    The Wildcats went on two of their patented spurts in the first half, jumping out to a 17-5 lead and then strengthening the margin to 35-11 with an 18-3 run.

    Helped by nine steals and a 10 rebound advantage on the defensive boards, Arizona raced out to 25 fast break points, compared with just three for Wisconsin.

    “”The thing we didn’t want to have happen, happened,”” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “”You can’t play from behind.””

    Arizona set fire to the nets all day, shooting 59.4 percent in the first half and 59.3 percent in the second half.

    “”This is the first game where we put together two good halves of Arizona basketball,”” junior center Kirk Walters said.

    Wisconsin would answer at the end of the first half cutting the lead to 12 with a 23-9 run before halftime. The Badgers never led, however, and they even failed to cut the lead to single digits after they trailed 17-8 with less than six minutes gone in the first half.

    “”We wanted to put an emphasis,”” said freshman forward Marcus Williams who scored all 10 of his points in the first half. “”We don’t want to be up 20 and then fall and win the game by 10. We are good enough to beat this team by 20.””

    Although it was not the old Dick Bennett offensive crawl Wisconsin team, Arizona still pushed the tempo in its favor converting several steals (one by Williams and one by senior guard Chris Rodgers in the first half) directly into easy lay-ups.

    “”We knew that they were a team that loved to play the game up around 60 or 70 points,”” Radenovic said. “”We knew that we can hurt them on the fast break and that’s what we did the whole game, and they got tired after the first 15 minutes.””

    Junior guard Alando Tucker led Wisconsin with 19 points but shot just five for 15 from the field.

    “”I think a lot of it was our poor shot selection,”” Tucker said. “”The shots that we took, as horrible as they were, that set it up for them to push it and get easy baskets.””

    Wisconsin shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, but the Wildcats did the same, connecting on five of 10 from 3-point range.

    Adams was even hotter, albeit on mid-range jumpers. He shot 10 for 14 from the field and showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury he suffered against Washington State last week.

    “”We had a great shoot around Thursday where we got the feel for the court,”” Adams said. “”We came out here early and got some shots up. We got a lot of open looks, not too many shots were contested. It was wide open.””

    Junior point guard Mustafa Shakur added 17 points and nine assists for Arizona and sophomore forward Bret Brielmaier recorded career highs in points and rebounds with 10 and eight, respectively.

    Adams came out of the gate aggressive as he knocked down two jump shots before picking up his second foul with 15:51 left to play. Adams would come back, but would only play two more first-half minutes.

    The Wildcats outscored the Badgers 40-22 in the paint, while the Badgers fought just to get open perimeter shots en route to shooting 43 percent from the field.

    “”Our defense led to us pushing it, getting some easy buckets and the chemistry was great,”” Walters said.

    The Wildcats reached the 20 win plateau for the 19th straight season, currently the longest such streak in the country.

    “”This is the team that we expected,”” Williams said.

    Not garnering much media attention because of an underachieving season, Arizona was keen on proving their doubters wrong right off the bat.

    “”We knew that we were underrated and we tried to show the whole country that we can play basketball,”” Radenovic said.

    Notes: Arizona traveled farther than any other school for their first round destination, going 2,535 miles.

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