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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona muzzles Bulldogs

Talk about getting out of a funk. And talk about a tale of two halves.

After a frustrating first period, Arizona head coach Sean Miller found himself calmly rotating the offense-defense substitutions with minutes left in the game as Louisiana Tech attempted and failed to make Arizona miss free throws down the stretch in Wednesday’ 83-67 Wildcat home victory.

“”Louisiana tech came in here, a seven-and-one ball club with a lot of guys with a lot of experience,”” said forward Jamelle Horne, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. “”They came at us in waves just like we try to do at our end. We just stayed with our composure and came out with the win.””

Perhaps Arizona’s largest concern, defending perimeter scorers, haunted the Wildcats yet again.

Bulldog Kyle Gibson torched Arizona (4-4) for 25 points despite being guarded by UA’s Kyle Fogg, who started his first game of the year in place of injured guard Brendon Lavender. Lavender was out with a deep thigh bruise in his right leg.

Fogg, on the other hand, performed admirably in scoring 11 points and grabbing six boards. Miller said he had “”hands down”” earned himself the right to start.

“”Kyle, I thought, played hard on defense and to me he is hands down our starter at this point from the 2 spot,”” Miller said. “”I felt good about starting him. I believe he’s emerged, and I hope by getting that start…that he can use this as a trampoline for better performances and a bigger role.””

Gibson was equalized by Arizona point guard Nic Wise, who finished with 24 points, five assists and two steals. Wise scored 10 of those points from the foul line, going 10-for-11 shooting at the stripe.

“”It’s a gift to have a point guard that can make the free throws like him,”” Miller said. “”He’s got a beautiful shot, he’s got great concentration. What a huge weapon, and he’s made a lot of pressure free throws.””

After a substandard first half, the Wildcats held a 35-31 advantage but opened the next period with noticeably more purpose, jumping out to a 40-33 lead to prompt LT head coach Kerry Rupp to call timeout.

“”Our bench in a funny way helped us win because Louisiana Tech isn’t a very deep team,”” Miller said, implying the Arizona rotation wore down a LT team that only played seven players.

The Wildcat attack kept on track as Arizona then pelted the Bulldogs with a 13-4 run punctuated by a ferocious Horne put-back dunk to bring the crowd to its feet and the score to 53-37.

“”One big play just sparks everybody else. It got the crowd pumped,”” said freshman Derrick Williams, who had a number of his own electrifying plays.

At one point, Arizona led 65-47. The Bulldogs continued to live up to their name, fighting back to close the deficit to 77-67 with 1:30 left in the game.

Attempting to curb the young front-court’s first half struggles with interior defense, sophomore center Alex Jacobson saw two stints of playing time in the first half. Even little-used sophomore DJ Shumpert saw action as Arizona looked to answer the springy athleticism of LT big men Magnum Rolle and Tucson-born David Jackson.

Two offensive rebounds and one 3-point shot by the Bulldogs gave them a 23-17 lead and appeared to shock the Wildcats awake with 10 minutes into the game. But two consecutive 3-pointers by Fogg and a layup off a steal by Wise gave the Wildcats their first lead since the scoreboard read 3-2 in favor of Arizona.

The Wildcats now move forward with a newfound confidence after a disappointing loss to Oklahoma on Sunday. Because his team is so young, Miller won’t mistake the game against the Bulldogs for a breakthrough.

“”We’re a mess sometimes out there,”” Miller said, smiling. “”I remind myself, our staff, that a lot of it is just patience.””

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