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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats feather Ducks’ D

Wildcats feather Ducks D

It was a night of change. Donning new warm-up suits for their return to the win column, the Wildcats swept the regular-season series against the Oregon Ducks with a 70-57 win in McKale Center on Thursday.

“”Coming into tonight we had a bad taste in our mouth,”” said freshman Momo Jones, who scored 11 points and tied for a team-high six rebounds. “”We just had to get rid of that taste.””

In another sign of change, the Wildcats (13-11, 7-5 Pacific 10 Conference) saw forward Derrick Williams score 20 points for the eighth game of his freshman season. Williams and his freshman class scored 32 of the 34 second-half points for the Wildcats, a sign of how far the class has come since November.

“”We’re going to be very good. We came a long way,”” Jones said. “”At the beginning of the season we wouldn’t be able to do that. We just had to humble ourselves as young players.””

Nic Wise fed the Williams for a dunk coming out of the halftime break to give the Wildcats a 38-28 advantage. It was clear his teammates looked for the undersized center each time down the court in the first few minutes of the half ­ he scored the first 11 UA points ­ many of which were caused by the Wildcats’ ball-hawking defense.

“”We’re at our best when we get defense to offense,”” Miller said. “”When we get the stop, block shot, rebound … We want a quick pace up the floor. That’s what we had going.””

But Williams wasn’t done.

He earned two consecutive jams as Arizona broke down Oregon’s trapping zone, then scored an And 1 after freshman Kevin Parrom drew an offensive foul on the defensive end. The big man even fed fellow freshman Solomon Hill a no-look pass with 4:27 left in the game to hold off the Ducks (12-11, 4-7), who never established either their zone or man-to-man defenses in the second half.

The reason for the dunks and lay-ups: Oregon’s over-extended defense.

“”They came out wide,”” Hill said. “”Once we got the ball in the middle, as soon as somebody faced up … It was open every time. They can’t account for everybody.””

Meanwhile, the Wildcats — especially guard Kyle Fogg and forward Parrom — played inspired defense to hold Oregon to 39 percent shooting for the night. Fogg also led the team with eight assists, compensating for his poor shooting.

Arizona opened the second half on a 14-4 run in front of former Wildcat Jordan Hill, who was visiting Tucson during the NBA All-Star break. Arizona led 52-35 at the time but Oregon guard Tajuan Porter quieted the crowd briefly, hitting a 3-pointer to bring his Ducks back within 15 points with under 13 minutes remaining.

From that point, though, Arizona wouldn’t lead by less than 13 points, the score at the final buzzer as the Wildcats failed to score in the final 3:42 minutes. “”I don’t think we finished the game well, defensively,”” Miller said.

To open the game, Oregon surprised UA with man-to-man defense instead of their 2-2-1 zone that Arizona had been dissecting in practices all week. The Wildcats looked slightly out of sync until seven minutes into the game.

With Wise on the bench, freshman center Kyryl Natyazhko grabbed three rebounds and hit a bank shot in his first few minutes of playing time and the Wildcats regained a 17-16 lead with 10:20 remaining in the half after sophomore Brendon Lavender hit 3-pointer and a Jones scored on a put-back.

In fact, a large amount of the Wildcats’ production came from the bench. Natyazhko grabbed five rebounds, and Lavender and Hill each played with confidence, scoring six and eight points respectively.

“”Today, I thought our team won because we are a team,”” Miller said. That bench energy kept Arizona rolling. Wise hit a 3-pointer after he returned from his first break and split the defense off a screen with under two minutes left in the half to bump the lead to 33-22 in favor of the Wildcats as their defense tightened.

Ducks forward E.J. Singler responded with a triple of his own, but Hill, after two passes in a row deflected back into his hands, picked the ball off the deck to find an open Lavender for a 3-pointer to give Arizona a 36-25 lead.

“”I really thought our team fed off our crowd tonight,”” Miller said. “”We’ve earned the right to play five of our last seven at home. We’re really talking a lot about taking advantage of playing home games and being at our best.””

                                                     

Lute mum on sanctions

Lute Olson refused to comment on his infractions that prompted UA to impose sanctions on the men’s basketball program.

if the NCAA deems UA’s self-punishment acceptable for Olson’s actions, Arizona will lose a scholarship and recruiting time.

“”No. I can’t comment,”” Olson told the Daily Wildcat Tuesday night after Arizona’s 70-57 win against Oregon. “”Nope.””

Olson wrote a letter to UA boosters asking for donations to the Cactus Classic AAU Tournament held from 2006 to 2008.

Olson also allowed the tournament’s ex-director Jim Storey inside access to the program and boosters who eventually contributed $197,000 to fund his tournament, according to a 150-page report acquired by the Wildcat.

Storey is the ex-publisher of recruiting site GOAZCATS.com. The NCAA will review the UA’s findings and self-sanctions in April. Any institute-associated financial compensation aiding potential recruits violates NCAA rules.

— Bryan Roy

 

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