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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Two California stars overshadowed by Hill, Mayes”

Going into Sunday, Texas and Arizona’s two leading scorers were Southern California boys that had all the NBA scouts’ attention.

It was long-time friends in UA’s Derrick Williams facing UT’s Jordan Hamilton with all the attention.

Though Williams’ last three points snatched Arizona’s 70-69 win on Sunday, teammates Jordin Mayes and Solomon Hill kept the Wildcats afloat through a tough offensive night for Williams.

Both hail from the Los Angeles area, and for Hill, a Fairfax High School product, asking UA head coach Sean Miller for the defensive assignment on Hamilton had more clinging to it than simply being a challenge.

“”I haven’t beaten Jordan (Hamilton) in basketball since probably fourth grade,”” Hill said, guessing he’s played against the second-team All-American 15-20 times in his life. “”AAU, high school, I’ve never beaten him, not once. It’s always something my dad and I talk about.””

Sunday was different.

Hill came out aggressively, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds while crashing the glass to help Arizona get out-rebounded by the athletic Longhorns only by 33-32. He shot 7-for-12 from the field, making Hamilton — his one knock throughout his career has been his lack of a defensive prowess — work just as hard on the other end.

Hamilton, a highly-touted recruit out of Dominguez High School in Los Angeles, was above fellow sophomores Hill and Williams on Texas’ recruiting board.

Though Hamilton had his usual high volume of shots on Sunday, he only connected on 7-for-18 of those, scoring 18 points but never being able to take over the game.

“”He’s the big guy, he’s the guy at Texas, he’s the leading scorer,”” Hill said, “”(I) just wanted to get that one (win).

“”It felt good,”” he added. “”I’ll take this one over all of them losses.””

Meanwhile, Mayes helped Hill in atoning for a quiet first half from Williams. The back-up point guard hit all four 3-point attempts and gave Arizona a threat against the Longhorn’s defense focused on shutting down Williams.

Admittedly having a poor game in going 0-for-6 with only two assists, starting point guard Momo Jones was complimentary of his understudy.

“”It’s going to come to a point in the season where I don’t have a great night, and he’s going to have to step up,”” Jones said. “”D-Will hit some big shots, but Jordin Mayes stepped up.””

Not one to show emotion, Mayes has gradually improved his play in recent games, showing the same talent that Jones has seen in practice. It’s a growth aided by his daily battles with Jones, who’s admittedly hard on his younger position-mate for a reason — tough love will help the team get wins, the only thing that matters to Jones.

And Sunday, that popped up in a game where Mayes went 6-for-7, his only miss coming on an open, short-armed layup.

“”All season I thought I shot the ball with confidence. Coming into today, I wanted to add on to that and be aggressive,”” Mayes said.

And while Jones didn’t look exceptionally strong on the court, his presence of feeding into Mayes’ growth appeared in the form of Mayes himself.

“”It helped me a lot,”” Mayes said of the competitive practices with Jones. “”We go at each other on the offensive end, each defensive segment. There were a couple practices where he killed me. I just keep working hard, that’s going to benefit both of us.””

Texas on final seconds

Arizona took the lead by scoring the final three points with 9.6 seconds remaining in the game. So the Longhorns inbounded to J’Covan Brown, who led Texas with 23 points and repeatedly beat Arizona off the dribble to get either open shots or one of his 13 of his free throws.

He took the ball the length of the floor, but couldn’t put the ball in the hole. Forward Gary Johnson got the offensive rebound and nearly got off a shot attempt, and maybe even was fouled.

“”I just tried to get to the rim and just, you know, put it on the rim for my teammates,”” Brown said. “”I don’t know about the foul.””

Referee Richard Cartmell said: “”We all had a look and didn’t have a foul on the play. And the buzzer went off before there was contact up high. So we checked with each other, none of us had a foul, there’s no review involved, game over.””

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