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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pac-10 title in hand

Mike Christy

Until now, nobody on Arizona’s roster had been in reach of the overhang that is a conference championship.

With one win needed to touch it, the pressure mounted. But against the Oregon State Beavers, the Wildcats (24-6, 13-4 Pacific 10 Conference) finally broke through.

Led by forward Derrick Williams and point guard Momo Jones, four Wildcats scored in double figures during Arizona’s 70-59 victory in McKale Center Thursday night. Simultaneously, UCLA, also coming into Thursday with a 12-4 league record, dropped to 12-5 in the Pac-10, securing at least a share of the league title to the Wildcats.

“”I was proud of our guys for breaking through,”” said head coach Sean Miller. “”Tonight was a hard game for us. So many times when you have things set up to do something special … it’s that one last game.

“”You can sometimes make the game bigger than it is.””

Williams recorded an offensive rebound with less than two minutes to play in the first half that marked his 10th total rebound, then scored on the same possession to give him a double-double before halftime. He finished the game with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Jones chipped in a game-high 17 points.

Forward Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom added 10 apiece, and guard Kyle Fogg scored nine with six assists.

“”I’d say that we all just came together, and we’re determined with a common goal in mind,”” senior Jamelle Horne said. “”It wasn’t pretty, but we fought through the bad plays.””

Arizona put the pedal down early, forcing eight Beaver turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game. By the end of the game, the Beavers committed 22 turnovers to the Wildcat’s eight.

Still, OSU stuck with UA, taking its first lead of 11-10 with 10:52 to go in the first half. The Wildcats had their largest lead at halftime, a score of 34-23, not terrible from the Beavers perspective considering a 14-2 turnover margin in favor of the Wildcats.

Facing a mix of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone, Miller said his team executed well against various defensive schemes.

“”Guys made passes,”” Miller said. “”You rely on instinct. Today we had more of an organized approach. I think our team had more of a confidence against (the zone).””

In the second half, Oregon State would stay close, cutting the lead to 50-43 before Fogg hit a 3-pointer on the right wing, causing OSU head coach Craig Robinson to call time with 8:51 left. Jones scored nailed a 3 on the opposite side of the court during the next possession, and a Hill dunk a minute later gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead.

Breaking the double-digit deficit only one more time, a couple of easy interior baskets thanks to breaking the OSU zone gave the Wildcats breathing room to burn the final minutes off the clock.

Now, Arizona can win the Pac-10 title outright with the Oregon Ducks coming into McKale Saturday at noon.

“”Appreciating the process of the ups and downs of the season serves us well,”” said Horne, who will play his last game in McKale.

Tech savvy

For whatever reason, the Beavers weren’t playing nice with the Wildcats. Technical fouls were called twice, a result of what Miller said was both teams’ competitiveness.

“”There wasn’t a lot of talking to be honest with you,”” Horne said when asked if any one team was trying to get under the other’s skin. “”There were just a lot of hard plays on the ball. The refs were talking about throwing them (technicals) out earlier. We kept our cool.””

At one point in the second half, Beaver forward Devon Collier appeared to nudge Williams with his elbow after a small confrontation and the play called dead.

“”There were no hard feelings,”” Collier said. “”It was just frustration. We cleared it up after the play.””

And with less than five minutes to go, Beavers center Angus Brandt was called for a blocking foul after falling into the hoop’s backstop and threw a loose ball not toward a ref, but in a crowd of Arizona players.

He and Williams were called for the double technical.

“”It was just chippy back and forth,”” Brandt said. “”He just kind of threw the ball at me so I threw it back. You don’t want it to look like we are getting walked on out here.””

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