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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Budinger bites back

    UA forward Chase Budinger slams home two of his game-high 20 points in Thursday nights 67-52 win over Oregon in McKale Center. Budingers performance was a slump-buster after he shot just 12-for-50 from the floor over his previous four games.
    UA forward Chase Budinger slams home two of his game-high 20 points in Thursday night’s 67-52 win over Oregon in McKale Center. Budinger’s performance was a slump-buster after he shot just 12-for-50 from the floor over his previous four games.

    Arizona 67, Oregon 52

    Welcome back, Chase Budinger.

    Rebounding from a four-game, 12-for-50 shooting slump heading into Thursday night, Budinger led all scorers with 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting in 36 minutes of play en route to a 67-52 win over Oregon in McKale Center.

    With the win, Arizona bounced back from two losses in the Bay Area and avoided being the first UA team to start conference play 0-3 since Lute Olson’s first Wildcat squad began 0-4 in the 1983-84 season.

    “”It feels great,”” Budinger said of the win. “”The last couple days we’ve been practicing real, real hard, just being real focused, working on the things that we haven’t been doing; really picking up our effort and our energy, and it showed out there tonight. It doesn’t feel good to go on the road and lose two games. It never feels good.””

    With 8 minutes left in the game, Oregon (6-9, 0-3 Pacific 10 Conference) turned the ball over near mid-court, allowing the Wildcats (10-5, 1-2) to get the ball to Budinger, who leaped up all alone for a reverse dunk, putting Arizona up ahead 49-35.

    It was an exclamation to Budinger’s outbreak performance, though he played it down.

    “”To me, that just felt like a normal dunk,”” Budinger said, smiling. “”I wanted to do something else on the dunk, but my legs weren’t feeling it, so I just went to the ole’ reverse.””

    Then, 1:54 later, the junior forward hit a pull-up 3-pointer to collect his 20th point of the game while putting the Wildcats ahead 54-37.

    It was his first and only 3-pointer, as he missed his previous four shots from the outside.

    “”See, that felt good. That felt real good when that 3 went down,”” Budinger said. “”The other 3s were close. That felt good.””

    UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said Budinger had been making his 3-pointers on a regular basis in practice, and added it will only be a matter of time before his starts making them in with consistency in games again.

    Playing solid as an all-around player, however, is what helped Budinger record his 20 points four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 36 minutes, Pennell said.

    “”He just came out and played basketball,”” Pennell said. “”I thought he came out and he was trying to do everything. He was getting out and he was defending, he was trying to get on the glass. … He’s so much more dimensional than just shooting the ball. Sometimes when you put your energy into those other things, scoring will come.””

    Sophomore forward Jamelle Horne played exceptionally well, putting up 15 points on a clean 5-for-5 shooting, including 2-for-2 from 3-point land. He also had a game-high two blocks.

    “”When he’s on, we’re good. He’s been kind of an x-factor in some of our big wins,”” Pennell said of Horne. “”He’s still a young player. He’s a sophomore getting major minutes this year, and he’s still learning to sustain every play on the floor. That’s hard for young players sometimes. One of the things we want from him and demand from him is that he just stays focused on the task at hand.””

    Horne played a large role in setting screens to get Budinger open for shots. As a result, he found himself open for his own opportunities.

    “”He’s definitely a big part of what we’re trying to do, and when he plays like that, we’re not a bad team at all,”” Pennell said of Horne.

    Arizona led by as much as 21 late in the game before eventually finishing with its 15-point victory with all reserves on the floor. The Wildcats led by double figures for the final 19:05 of the game, despite getting what most would consider an off-night for UA big man Jordan Hill.

    Hill scored 9 points and pulled down a game-high 12 boards, and his presence surely wasn’t missed.

    “”As good a big man as he is, it was good for me as a freshman to get that kind of experience,”” said OU center Michael Dunnigan.

    In the end, the game belonged to Budinger. He stole the stage from the beginning.

    Budinger scored four of Arizona’s first six points, which included a sneaky layup. He purposely passed the ball inbounds off of the butt of an OU player under the hoop, grabbed the ball and scored the bucket, giving the Wildcats a 6-4 lead.

    It’s something he’s had an urge to do for a while now.

    “”Heck yes. I’ve been waiting for this,”” Budinger said. “”Every game I’m just waiting for the guy to turn around and it finally happened. I was like, ‘Yes, easy bucket.’ I hit it right off his butt. I’ve been waiting for that.””

    And 1

    Horne, who had designs carved into his head during the season last year, sported a mohawk against the Ducks.

    To the sophomore, the new do’ represented a change.

    “”I went to the barber shop, and those two (losses) on the road really hurt us,”” Horne said. “”I said, ‘Give me something new.’ I closed my eyes the entire cut, and woke up with a mohawk. I trust (my barber) with my hair.””

    Pennell originally said “”no comment”” when asked of Horne’s new look, then added an acceptance of sorts.

    “”If he believes it helps him, then I like it,”” Pennell said with a smile.

    Walk-ons David Bagga and DJ Shumpert each got into the game for the third time this season.

    Horne said Bagga was a large reason for pumping the Wildcats up for the game.

    “”It was Bagga. Bagga, Bagga, Bagga,”” Horne said. “”We needed him, and he came through for us. He was yelling all kinds of stuff that didn’t even make sense before the game. But it was loud and we fed off of it. We went from there and got the W.””

    The legendary Ooh Ahh Man made his first appearance of the season with 7:52 left in the game, but he was quickly shooed off the court by a referee. On the next timeout, however, he was allowed on the court to go through his routine.

    Arizona received a scare with 8:36 left when Hill was hit in the eye going up for a layup. He was taken out of the game for 1:39, leaving Brendon Lavender to shoot his free throws. Lavender missed both shots, but sank his make-up shot after Oregon was called for a lane violation. It was his only point of the game.

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