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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Fogg’s second half keeps ’Cats afloat in Pac-12 race

Colin+Darland+%2F+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+Arizona+Wildcats+take+on+the+UCLA+Bruins+from+McKale+Center+on+Saturday%2C+February+25%2C+2012.
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats take on the UCLA Bruins from McKale Center on Saturday, February 25, 2012.

Senior guard Kyle Fogg played poorly in the first half of Saturday’s 65-63 win over UCLA.

The Brea, Calif., native shot 1-of-7 from the field, 0-of-3 from 3-point range and scored just four points as the Wildcats clung to a one-point lead at the half. But then Fogg came alive, scoring 16 second-half points while shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line — bringing Arizona a win in a critial game. A loss would have all but ended its NCAA Tournament chances.

“I just wanted to give our guys some energy,” Fogg said. “That’s one of the games I’ll never forget … I just wanted badly to go out with a win since I’ll never be playing here again.”

Fogg’s performance dazzled the McKale Center crowd of 14,724 — the largest crowd of the season and fifth-largest in McKale history. Perhaps his greatest moment came when he nailed a 3-pointer off of a pass by Jesse Perry with 53 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 63-57 lead.

Fogg also went on a tear that saw him score eight of 11 Arizona points to give the Wildcats the lead with a little more than four minutes left — a lead the Wildcats wouldn’t relinquish.

But Fogg’s heroics didn’t stop on offense. Fogg held UCLA guard and leading scorer Lazeric Jones to two points on 1-of-12 shooting, both numbers well below his season averages of 13 points on 42.4 percent from the field.

“Kyle Fogg’s defensive effort can’t be lost in this game,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “He deserves to be on any all-defensive team that’s voted on. When a kid plays that hard on defense then does what he did on offense … he was clearly the best player in the game today.”

Arizona’s win took the Wildcats a step closer to a crucial first-round by in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. The UA sits at third place in the conference and the top four teams receive a bye into the conference quarterfinals.

“Our main focus is finishing out strong, and putting ourselves in the best position for seeding in the Pac-12 tournament,” junior forward Solomon Hill said. “Maybe we can do some things that will shine some light on us. Maybe get an automatic bid. It’s not really over.”

Perry finishes strong

Senior forward Jesse Perry finished his McKale Center career in a game that encapsulated nearly every game he’s played as a Wildcat. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds while being matched up with massive UCLA center Josh Smith, who’s listed at 6-foot-10, 305 pounds.

“He’s probably, what? A hundred fifty, 200 pounds more than me?” Perry said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but I was up for the challenge.”

Perry and the rest of Arizona’s seniors closed out their careers in McKale during an emotional post-game ceremony in which a short video played and each player received a framed jersey set in front of a picture.

“I know today was going to come,” said Perry, who took the floor for the ceremony with his 9-month-old daughter in his arms. “I’m not going to go out and cry or nothing like that, but it was definitely emotional.”

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