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The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats end losing streak to ASU

TEMPE – The Arizona men’s basketball team shook off an anemic first half into an offensive surge to beat the Sun Devils and end a series five-game losing streak.

Arizona’s (10-9, 3-3 Pac-10) offense refused to slow the tempo in their 77-58 win in Tempe, especially in the second half. ASU’s (14-6, 4-3) nation-leading defense failed to set itself on the other end.

“”(We were) just sticking to our guns,”” said UA forward Jamelle Horne of the team’s resiliency. “”The game just blew up. It was only a matter of time before the tempo took over the game. It definitely felt good to finally get a win.””

ASU seemingly fell apart down the stretch, turning the ball over and giving UA easy layups as the tempo increased. Coming into the contest, ASU gave up an average of 54 points to their opponents but allowed 52 to the Wildcats in the second half.

The rivalry between the two squads showed with 8:35 left in the game. ASU guard Ty Abbott went airborne on a fast break dunk, but UA forward Kevin Parrom ripped his arm through the air and across Abbott’s face to prevent the score. Parrom was cited with a personal foul and a technical, which fouled him out of the game with 8:37 remaining and his team holding a 10-point lead. In response, Arizona went on a 9-2 run and ASU head coach Herb Sendek even picked up a technical foul with 5:37 remaining.

“”The momentum could shift either way from that (foul),”” said guard Kyle Fogg, who finished with 21 points. “”I think we really came together even more at that point of the game.””

That run aided the Wildcats in shooting 75 percent in the second half, evening out an abysmal 23.8 percent shooting clip in the first half. And giving up 30.2 percent from the field to the Sun Devils, Sendek could only watch as his team lost control.

“”We weren’t able to get stops (in the first half),”” said UA point guard Nic Wise, who finished with 16 points and six assists. “”We were settling for a lot of transition 3(-pointers).””

Jamelle Horne didn’t start the second half, but came in and on his first offensive touch, fed a cutting Williams for a two-handed slam to tie the game once again at 29. He ended with 11 points and four rebounds, fighting through an ankle injury that has been lingering since the San Diego State game, according to Horne.

“”I really felt that early he let a couple of missed shots affect him,”” Miller said. “”To his credit, he came out in the second half and played well.””

In the first half, Arizona came out unprepared, eventually finding themselves down 20-10.

ASU jumped out to a 9-5 lead with eight minutes into the game. Derrick Williams got going with an And 1 to bring Arizona within one point, but ASU forward Rihards Kuksiks drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Arizona another four-point deficit and then Demetrius Walker hit another to give ASU a 15-8 lead.

Their lead expanding to double-digits at 20-10 through 13 minutes of play, the Sun Devil defense kept Williams from frequently touching the ball. But Wise hit two from the free-throw line, Fogg penetrated and found freshman Solomon Hill for a 3-pointer and despite giving up numerous offensive rebounds to the Sun Devils, Arizona clawed within one point with under five minutes remaining in the half. That came during a three-minute scoring drought as ASU sat on 20 points.

“”I think it started on our defensive end,”” Fogg said of why Arizona clawed back into the game. “”Guys started getting stops and (we were) pushing the ball up offensively.””

Fogg hit two free throws after drawing a foul mid-jump-shot to tie the game at 23 points apiece after a 14-3 UA run and the Wildcats went into the half with a slight 27-25 disadvantage.

The Wildcats and Sun Devils each shot under 30 percent from the field at halftime, jacking up a combined to shoot 5-for-26 in 3-point shots in the process.

“”It doesn’t mean a lot,”” Miller said of his team’s victory. “”I don’t want to act like I don’t care but when you’re the head coach at Arizona there’s a lot expected. My total focus is to try to improve our entire team. To make this any bigger than one win would be foolish.””

Stay with DailyWildcat.com and @WildcatHoops for more coverage from Tempe.

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