The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

102° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    M-hoops overcomes slow start

    Arizona 97, Incarnate Word 83

    For the Arizona men’s basketball team to control its own outcome in Thursday night’s exhibition, the Wildcats needed to control their own tempo first.

    And quicker than a spark, Arizona set off a 97-83 win over Division II Incarnate Word in McKale Center after overcoming a sluggish, slow and sloppy first half.

    Arizona trailed within the first few minutes of the second half, 41-40, only before unveiling a tempo-defining full-court press that caught Incarnate Word off guard.

    “”What was going through my mind (at halftime) was, ‘I can’t believe this,'”” said UA forward Jordan Hill. “”Of course, we’re definitely a better team. I was a little upset but, I mean, who wouldn’t be?””

    The sudden shift in momentum began with 16:30 remaining, when UA guard Nic Wise’s hard drive to the basket finished with a Hill put-back slam dunk.

    On the ensuing play, Arizona’s full-court pressure forced a turnover and fast-break dunk from UA guard Brendon Lavender, pressing the Cardinals to burn a timeout.

    Lavender’s dunk and the fast-paced Arizona offense continued its tear into a 12-0 run midway through the second half.

    From that point forward, the Wildcats used their height and physical presence in the front court to outscore the Cardinals 57-44 in the second half – largely due to Hill’s game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds.

    “”When I’m on the floor all the time I try to compete, whether it’s a top-300 team or a top-1 team,”” Hill said. “”Once everybody just started getting in the same motion, the defense got a lot better second half. We just gotta stay focused once we’re on the court. Second half, we brought that way up.””

    Added UA forward Jamelle Horne: “”We actually missed that (fast pace). Last year was a slow-down type, set-screens-for-everyone offense. It felt great to get back out on the wing, and I’m sure all the other teammates felt great that we’re running again.””

    Incarnate Word clawed back following the Wildcats’ early second-half run and lingered around the 10-point deficit threshold until the five-minute mark.

    But Arizona continued to outscore the Cardinals’ streaky shooting, with help from a pair of 16-point performances from Wise and Horne.

    Neither Hill nor Wise started the game after arriving to Thursday morning’s shoot around a minute late – at 7:01 – Pennell said.

    Both entered the game at 4:01 into the first half and provided what turned out to be a critical role in filling the void of UA forward Chase Budinger’s offnight.

    Budinger shot only 2-for-10 from the field, but made 11-for-12 free throws, giving him a quiet 15 points.

    “”No question. Chase Budinger is going to his shots – we’ve seen it,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell.

    Added Hill: “”Chase, his shots weren’t falling like they should be. Basically, I just started doing what I had to do, too.””

    Wise left the game with 7:44 remaining in the first half after a hard foul: The guard hit his head on the court in front of the pom squad. His head started bleeding, and he left the game for the locker room.

    “”I just heard him hit the floor right in front of me, and his head was gushing blood,”” said UA pom squad junior Lisa Hamilton.

    Wise, who came off an ankle sprain last week, returned in time – much to Pennell’s surprise – to begin the second half.

    “”Nic was great – he got knocked down more than a prize fighter,”” Pennell said. “”First I was told he was possibly out with a concussion. Then I turn around and that little booger was standing there.””

    As the offensive ringleader, Wise took command of the second half – scoring all of his 16 points during that span – while Hill gave the Wildcats nine offensive rebounds himself.

    Arizona scored 27 second-chance points off a total of 23 offensive rebounds, in comparison to Incarnate Word’s seven second-chance points and six offensive rebounds.

    UA forward Fendi Onobun also contributed to the front court, helping Arizona out-rebound the Cardinals 54-22. Onobun finished the night with seven rebounds, four points and four fouls – the exact line Pennell expects from Onobun’s role.

    “”We got exactly out of Fendi exactly what I wanted out of Fendi,”” Pennell said. “”That’s just him. I think he’s good with that and I think he likes that role. I was real pleased with the way he played.””

    The spark in offensive production came after Arizona adjusted defensively at halftime to the full-court press, bringing a more aggressive approach to stopping the Cardinals’ hot hands and rhythm.

    Pennell saw his team playing defense on their heels and poorly executing in transition, he said, allowing the jump shooting-oriented Cardinals to penetrate into the basket and dish out shots throughout the court.

    “”Obviously, I just felt like in the first half defensively we just weren’t very good,”” Pennell said. “”We just weren’t attacking the basketball.””

    Originally in the first half, Arizona defenders collapsed on the Cardinals’ initial drive to the hoop, freeing up the open wings, which shot 53.8 percent in the first half.

    At the half, Pennell called for his players to keep the ball more in front of his defenders.

    Both teams played a fast-paced style, but Arizona didn’t have to settle for jump shots due to their height – unlike Cardinals that “”lived and died”” by the 3-pointer, Pennell said.

    “”(In the second half), I thought we did a much better job of contesting shots.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search