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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats turn the tables on Illinois

    Forward Chase Budinger, right, and guard Jawann McClellan celebrate after Budinger converted a layup while being intentionally fouled in the second half of Arizonas 84-72 win over Illinois in the Hall of Fame Challenge Saturday in Phoenix. Budinger was awarded game MVP honors after leading Arizona in scoring with 22 points and rebounding with eight boards.
    Forward Chase Budinger, right, and guard Jawann McClellan celebrate after Budinger converted a layup while being intentionally fouled in the second half of Arizona’s 84-72 win over Illinois in the Hall of Fame Challenge Saturday in Phoenix. Budinger was awarded game MVP honors after leading Arizona in scoring with 22 points and rebounding with eight boards.

    PHOENIX – Unlike two years ago, it was Illinois who came out as the aggressor in the first half.

    But this time it would be the No. 16 Wildcats (5-1) who made the second-half run before finishing off Illinois 84-72 in front of 15,507 at US Airways Center.

    The Fighting Illini (7-2) pounded the ball inside to physical big men Warren Carter and Shaun Pruitt, who combined for 35 of Illinois’ points and helped open a 35-19 lead with 7:33 left to play in the first half. The Illini hit 15 of its first 20 shots, including six in a row at one point.

    “”I had a little nervous feeling because they were hot, but eventually thought we could get some stops and slowly come back,”” said forward Marcus Williams, who scored 20 points.

    Arizona closed the game on a 15-4 run after leading 69-68 and essentially put the game away as Chase Budinger scored a fast-break layup and was intentionally fouled in the process by Richard McBride, adding two free throws.

    After forward Ivan Radenovic hit two free throws when the Wildcats also got to inbound the ball as part of the infraction, Arizona went up 80-70 with 46 seconds left.

    “”I think we came out pretty soft,”” Budinger said. “”They were bullying us on the boards, their big men were just throwing us all (around). In the second half and end of the first half we started to get aggressive and played tough.””

    With Illinois leading 10-8, Arizona was held without a field goal for 4:12 as Illinois ran off a 12-1 run, with 10 of the 12 points coming from Carter and Pruitt. Eight of the points were either dunks or layups, and Illinois scored 16 points in the paint in the first half. Carter ended with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but both he and Pruitt battled foul trouble, each carrying four fouls late in the second half.

    “”I don’t know if (Arizona) was ready for our defense early,”” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “”They adjusted as the game went on, and we had our chances even without players because both of the injuries and the foul trouble.””

    Arizona climbed back into the game behind Budinger. The freshman scored nine of his 11 first-half points in the last 7:45 when Arizona outscored Illinois 19-8, making the halftime deficit 41-36. Budinger led the Wildcats with 22 points and eight rebounds, earning him the title of game MVP.

    “”When we needed him, he came through big,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said. “”He got some big-time rebounds.””

    Budinger and guard Jawann McClellan went to the offensive glass in the second half looking for loose change and found plenty of it. McClellan grabbed two offensive rebounds in a row with Arizona trailing 51-45, put the second one back into the hoop and earned himself a trip to the free-throw line, where he cut the lead to three.

    Budinger scored on a putback to make it 51-50 and Shakur made a layup, giving Arizona its first lead since 6-5. He added four more points, and Radenovic made a bucket to cap the 12-0 run and put the Wildcats up 57-51.

    “”I knew at some point they would go dry if we just kept attacking and playing defense,”” said Shakur, who called Illinois the most physical team Arizona has played to date.

    Carter’s jump shot with 3:08 in the first half after an official timeout gave Illinois a 41-30 lead, but McClellan came back with a jump shot, Shakur scored on a hesitation move, and Budinger made two free throws for the last six points of the half, as the Wildcats held the Illini scoreless over that stretch.

    Carter scored the first six points of the second half, pushing the lead back into double digits at 47-36, but Budinger answered again, stopping the run with a 3-pointer. Williams added an old-fashioned 3-point play on the next possession and Shakur, who scored 16 points and added eight assists, threw in a high-arching floater to bring the Wildcats back within three points.

    Later in the half, Arizona shut out Illinois for 6:31 in the second half, going on a 12-0 run in the process to take a six-point lead.

    The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the field but uncharacteristically struggled shooting 3s, making just 2-of-7 from that distance in the first half and 6-of-16 on the afternoon, while missing 11 free throws. Arizona went to the line 37 times, compared with just nine for Illinois.

    “”It was a big game; we showed our toughness and we proved that we can play with anybody, no matter how tough they want to play,”” said McClellan, who had extra emotion because the last game his father saw him play was the loss to Illinois in the 2005 Elite Eight.

    “”I came out here to play with a lot of emotion today, and we came out here and played as a team,”” he added.

    When asked if Illinois was the best team Arizona has played thus far, Olson said, “”Yeah, I think so.””

    And 1

    Hall of Fame members spotted in attendance included Jerry West, Rick Barry, Hubie Brown, Marcus Haynes, Bob Lanier and Jerry Colangelo. … Others of note on hand: Arizona’s prize recruit of 2007 Jerryd Bayless, Phoenix Suns all-star forwards Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion and guard Raja Bell, former Phoenix Sun Vinny Del Negro and former NBA journeyman Walter McCarty, who sang the national anthem…

    Arizona guard J.P. Prince was not in attendance.

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