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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Iron unkind to Arizona’s stars

    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless fights off two defenders in last nights 56-52 loss to Stanford in Maples Pavilion. It was the Wildcats third consecutive Pac-10 loss.
    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless fights off two defenders in last night’s 56-52 loss to Stanford in Maples Pavilion. It was the Wildcats’ third consecutive Pac-10 loss.

    Stanford 56, Arizona 52

    STANFORD, Calif. – In a game where Jordan Hill got into early foul trouble again, Jawann McClellan didn’t score and Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger combined to shoot 8-for-29 to the point, the Wildcats had to feel pretty good about themselves being down just two with 11 seconds left and in possession of the ball.

    Interim head coach Kevin O’Neill must have felt better if he knew the shot would be a fairly open mid-range jumper from Bayless, a shot he’s hit countless times this year.

    “”A pretty good look,”” O’Neill said. “”He usually makes that shot.””

    But just like so many other attempts off the hands of Budinger and Bayless, it bounced off the rim, clinching Arizona’s third straight Pacific 10 Conference loss in a 56-52 decision Thursday night at Stanford (14-3, 3-2 Pacific 10 Conference).

    Both players got some good looks but did not execute, with Budinger missing nine of his first 10 shots. McClellan did not help matters, missing five shots – all in the first half – in 35 minutes for Arizona (11-6, 1-3) after previously never scoring less than six.

    “”We didn’t shoot well, we had very good looks,”” O’Neill said. “”For our two leading scorers to shoot 8-of-30 it’s difficult for us to win.””

    Complicating matters, Hill found himself in foul trouble once again, picking up a pair of fouls in the first nine-plus minutes before sitting for the rest of the half. He was called for another foul four minutes into the second half and played just 21 minutes.

    Hill knew going into the game he could not get into foul trouble against Stanford and its twin 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez due to the Wildcats’ limited interior depth. Not surprisingly, the Cardinal reeled off a 12-3 run in the first half immediately after Hill went to the bench.

    Hill said he felt two of the fouls were bad calls, frustrating for a player trying so hard to stay out of foul difficulty.

    “”Real tough, but I’m just trying to be so active and trying to play good defense, and I just get over aggressive,”” Hill said. “”I’ve got to be smart, just play my game.””

    The Wildcats made a run of their own in the second half, reeling off a 17-4 spurt over about eight minutes near the beginning of the half, with guard Nic Wise sparking the offense and the defense clamping down.

    Wise scored six points and dished out a pair of assists in the run, with Arizona taking opportunities to run when it could.

    “”For some reason it normally always happens in the second half for me where I have to pick up my level of play because they’re keying in on Chase and Jerryd, so I can’t be the weak link out there,”” Wise said. “”The second half I tend to step up more.””

    Added Budinger: “”We got out in transition. We were able to stop them on the defensive side and then get easy layups and get Jordan running down the court and get easy buckets that way, and that really made us come back.””

    The Wildcats’ defense facilitated the comeback, holding the Cardinal to 26.9 percent shooting in the second half after the home team shot 63.6 percent in the first.

    However, one of Stanford’s seven second-half field goals came when Glendale native Lawrence Hill hit a clutch 3-pointer with 4:14 left to put the Cardinal ahead.

    But the story for Arizona revolved around its inability to hit shots, and for Bayless, it really could have been the shoes.

    He said his formerly sprained right knee felt the same it did Saturday at Houston, when he scored 33 points on 7-for-13 shooting. But in the first half he had to change shoes because his right ankle was bothering him because of his footwear.

    “”I was too worried about my ankle I didn’t get into a rhythm,”” Bayless said. “”It just didn’t go well.””

    The collective 37.5 percent shooting night comes a game after Arizona shot 60.9 percent, including a season-high 71.4 percent in the second half, in the win over the Cougars.

    While the threat of the Lopez twins, especially Brook and his five blocked shots, likely contributed to the poor night, O’Neill felt his team just missed shots they got good looks on, leading to Arizona tying a season low by scoring 52 points.

    “”They were makeable shots that we’d normally make, but they just weren’t falling,”” Budinger said. “”You’re going to have games like that. Everybody has bad shooting nights. Even the best players ever had bad shooting nights, and that’s the game of basketball. When you’re having a bad shooting night you’ve just go to do other things to win, and we didn’t get that done.””

    The Wildcats now head into Saturday’s game against California, a team also desperate for a win after a 99-90 double-overtime loss Thursday against ASU. If Arizona hopes to prevent a disastrous four-game conference losing streak, they will likely need to shoot better at Haas Pavilion.

    “”It happens, that’s it. I can’t do nothing about it, I’ve got to move on,”” Bayless said of Thursday’s performance. “”We’ve got a big game on Saturday, a big game.

    “”We’ve got to get that win on Saturday.””

    And 1

    Forward Bret Brielmaier scored two points in 11 minutes in a game O’Neill did not expect him to play earlier in the week after re-injuring his separated shoulder Jan. 9 at ASU.

    Brielmaier tested it out in shootaround, where it felt good, but he said there’s “”no doubt”” he could not do what he normally does because the shoulder is “”weak.””

    However, he’s not worried about potentially re-injuring it again.

    “”It might happen, it might not,”” Brielmaier said. “”We’ve got only (14 regular-season) games left, and we need everyone for every game, so you’ve got to suck it up and if it happens it happens.”” …

    The Cardinal snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats, who had won six of eight at Stanford. …

    Brook Lopez dominated the early going when Hill fronted him, scoring nine points on 4-for-4 shooting while blocking three shots at the other end in just over six minutes. He finished with a game-high 19 points. …

    O’Neill used four players off the bench, more than usual, but they combined for just 30 minutes as all four starters except for the foul-prone Hill played at least 35 minutes. …

    Before the game and again near the end, Stanford showed Nick Robinson’s game-winning, last-second heave from long distance that beat Arizona in Maples Pavilion in 2003-04, when Tiger Woods led the crowd in rushing the court.

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