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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Running their way to wins

    Washington guard Justin Dentmon (5) tries to run down Arizona point guard Nic Wise in a 106-97 Wildcat win on Thursday in McKale Center. The UAs wins over the Washington schools were fueled by sudden scoring surges midway through the second half.
    Washington guard Justin Dentmon (5) tries to run down Arizona point guard Nic Wise in a 106-97 Wildcat win on Thursday in McKale Center. The UA’s wins over the Washington schools were fueled by sudden scoring surges midway through the second half.

    Comparing last weekend’s wins against Washington and Washington State looks easy on paper.

    Arizona scored 106 points in Thursday night’s victory over the then-No. 23 Huskies, highlighted by an immense 69-point second half.

    Two days later, the Wildcats only managed 23 points by halftime, finishing with 66 total to defeat the Cougars.

    Different look, same results. The Wildcats (14-8, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference) completed a much-needed sweep against the Washington schools through one strikingly similar mean: Big runs.

    Both games were fueled by sudden scoring surges midway through the second half, started by 3-pointers.

    Arizona went on a 24-13 run against UW, then broke out of WSU’s slow, grind-it-out offense with a 24-2 run.

    “”I think our defense had triggered all of that,”” UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said Monday. “”Almost every fast-break point we got or easy basket we got came off a steal.

    “”I think our team is starting to find our identity more on the defensive end,”” Pennell added. “”I think as our defense keeps improving, you’ll see more runs like that hopefully.””

    So, how does Pennell know when to suddenly apply the pressure and execute those big runs? Why not begin the defensive assault from the get-go?

    Pennell said Saturday’s second-half surge was utilized to wake up his lethargic team that seemingly felt the affects of an 11 a.m. start time.

    “”I think there’s a time and place for everything you do,”” Pennell said. “”I think it has to be a sense. We seem to really be fueled off of that type of defense.””

    Pennell insists that the team isn’t completely focusing on increasing the overall tempo, but knows the Wildcats are more capable at this point in the season.

    Experience has given guys like Kyle Fogg and Zane Johnson better vision to run the ball faster. Of course, spark plug ballers like Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love to run the tempo – that’s why they were recruited to Tucson.

    Instead, it’s better shot selection that the team will focus on executing, regardless of whether points come within the first seven seconds of the possession.

    “”If we can get scores early in transition, we’d love that,”” Pennell said. “”But if we can’t, we still got to get good shots.””

    Budinger said he personally doesn’t like playing slow.

    “”I think most of our team likes to run,”” he said after the WSU game. “”It shows our versatility. It shows we can run as well as play a slowdown game.””

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