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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    DeRozan returns to McKale in dominant fashion

    Arizona forward Jordan Hill puts up a hook shot during the Wildcats 83-76 win against USC on Thursday night in  McKale Center. Hill scored 12 points and grabbed 5 rebounds to help Arizona get its sixth-straight win.
    Arizona forward Jordan Hill puts up a hook shot during the Wildcats’ 83-76 win against USC on Thursday night in McKale Center. Hill scored 12 points and grabbed 5 rebounds to help Arizona get its sixth-straight win.

    Hoops Notes

    The last time DeMar DeRozan played in McKale Center, he did so alongside Brandon Jennings.

    Playing for the Belmont Shore AAU team, DeMar would slam home dunk after monstrous dunk.

    “”I see you DeMar, I see you,”” Jennings’ mother, Alice Knox, would yell from the stands.

    Jennings, last year’s Naismith High School Player of the Year, is now in Europe after signing his letter of intent to play for the Wildcats, but DeRozan made sure to let it be known that he hasn’t gone anywhere.

    The USC freshman forward scored 20 points – 7.5 more than his season average – on 7-for-14 shooting in Thursday night’s 83-76 loss to the Wildcats. He also pulled down eight rebounds and sank just his second 3-pointer of the season. He is now 2-for-20, but his long-range game – or lack thereof – hasn’t taken away from image as a whole.

    “”DeMar is a really talented kid, and he’s really starting to come into his own,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell. “”I think he had a big reputation coming in, and boy, I tell you what: He’s an awful good mid-range shooter. Once he extends his range a little bit, he’s going to be really good.””

    USC head coach Tim Floyd said he felt the timing was right for DeRozan.

    “”It’s always about equal opportunity on our team,”” Floyd said, “”and his opportunities were there for him.””

    BIGS FOR LIFE

    As is customary before every game, the Wildcats split up on the court about 45 minute prior to tip-off. The big men warmed up on one end of the court and the smaller players took the other side.

    But there was more than space that differentiated the two squads.

    Several players in the group with guards and forwards wore white T-shirts with an old-school Arizona basketball logo and a Nike swoosh on the front, and “”G-UNIT”” on the back. The big men – centers power forwards – wore the same shirts with “”BIGS FOR LIFE”” written on the back.

    Two Lutes

    Former UA head coach Lute Olson was in attendance for the game and sat in his usual seat on the west side of the arena. But that wasn’t the only place he sat.

    A student brought a 6-foot color cutout of Olson and held it proudly during the game at the top of the Zona Zoo section.

    Mixing it up

    Pennell has used nine different starters and six different lineup combinations this season. Thursday night he started the unit of Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Zane Johnson, Nic Wise and Kyle Fogg for the seventh time.

    When the Wildcats start with that combination, they are 6-1. Their only loss with that starting-five came at USC last month.

    Second-half surges

    In the five games Arizona played in coming into Thursday night’s bout with the Trojans, the Wildcats were outscored by an averaged of 2.4 points in the first half, but had a margin of +8.8 points in the second halves of those games.

    In three of the five games, Arizona scored 50 in the second half, including a 69-point effort against Washington on Jan. 29.

    Arizona had a +3 margin in the first half and a +4 margin in the second against the Trojans on Thursday night.

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