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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats show up early in Titan romp

    UA guard Jerryd Bayless, who had a game-high 21 points, drives to the hoop during the Wildcats 91-65 win over Cal State-Fullerton last night in McKale Center.
    UA guard Jerryd Bayless, who had a game-high 21 points, drives to the hoop during the Wildcats’ 91-65 win over Cal State-Fullerton last night in McKale Center.

    The Arizona men’s basketball team developed an ugly habit of starting out slow during its first five games of the season.

    Then came last night’s contest against Cal State-Fullerton.

    The Wildcats (4-2) ran out to a 20-4 lead 6:28 into the game en route to blowing out the Titans (3-1) 91-65 in McKale Center.

    “”We just wanted to come into this game and punch them in the face from the start

    and keep the lead throughout the rest of the game,”” said guard Nic Wise.

    The Wildcats did just that in playing a nearly flawless first half that ended with a 53-30 lead. Besides turning the ball over 12 times, a problem that cost the Wildcats in their loss to No. 4 Kansas on Sunday, and getting into some early foul trouble, everything else went right for Arizona in the half.

    The Wildcats hit 66.7 percent of their shots (20-of-30), six of seven 3-pointers (85.7 percent) and seven of eight free throws (87.5 percent) to break 50 points in a half for the first time this season.

    Once again, forward Chase Budinger and guard Jerryd Bayless led the offensive attack, with both players scoring 13 points by the break. The duo scored eight points each in Arizona’s initial 20-4 burst, and with 7:40 left in the half they had combined for seven more points than Fullerton, as the Wildcats led by 19.

    Bayless finished with a team-high 21, while Budinger scored 17.

    “”I think what happened was we really carried over our intensity and our defensive presence from Kansas to this game, and it really showed in the beginning of the game where we got a lot of stops on them and made them turn the ball over and just really got into them,”” Budinger said. “”We got a big lead from the beginning and never really let up.””

    Forward Jordan Hill also pointed to Arizona’s overtime loss in Allen Fieldhouse as a turning point for the Wildcats, especially on the defensive end.

    The Wildcats held the KU offensive juggernaut to 22 points on 36.8 percent shooting in the second half, then held a Fullerton squad averaging 85.7 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting to 65 points on 33.8 percent shooting, a season low for a UA opponent.

    Arizona out-rebounded the Titans by 11 and hustled to nine blocks and seven steals.

    “”I think it’s just another step for us to continue in our growth,”” said forward Bret Brielmaier. “”We played real well against Kansas, but we had a chance to shut them down and we never closed, so I think this is just another stepping stone or building block to increase our team’s production and just to get a feeling of how to do it.””

    On his 22nd birthday, Brielmaier played a big role in the Wildcats’ effort after getting his first start of the season. The walk-on senior scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, including three on the offensive end, and blocked a pair of shots. He became the fourth different person to start alongside Budinger, Hill, Bayless and guard Jawann McClellan.

    “”You need some guys that don’t care about shots and do all the dirty work, and Bret does that,”” said interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”He tips balls out, he keeps balls alive. He gets on the floor.””

    Said McClellan: “”Bret was the big spark tonight, getting a lot of

    offensive rebounds and tip backs that won’t show up on the stat sheet.””

    O’Neill said he wanted to start either Brielmaier or forward Jamelle Horne – who added 12 points and a career-high seven rebounds off the bench – and chose Brielmaier off his play in practice and performance against the Jayhawks, though he had only four points.

    Brielmaier said he “”just did the usual,”” although he likes coming off the bench better to bring energy and change the flow of the game.

    With Brielmaier keeping possessions alive, the Wildcats led by as much as 37 at one point, with the lead never slipping below 26 over the final 10 minutes.

    “”We have had teams down by a lot of points, but we haven’t been able to finish them off, and I think it shows our maturity that we’re getting better and better as a team,”” McClellan said.

    And 1

    Students did not even fill up the lower bowl of their approximately 2,290-person section. Student attendance has been weak for every game except for the Nov. 17 Virginia contest. … Guard David Bagga made his first appearance of the season with 1:42 left after a few minutes of chants from the crowd for him. “”Any time Bagga can get in the game, that’s a plus for us,”” McClellan said.

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