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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Arizona blows big lead, falls to Virginia in season opener”

    It was the frenetic, fast-paced tempo Arizona envisioned, but far from the result it had imagined.

    After blowing a 19-point lead in the first half, the No. 15 Arizona men’s basketball team gave up 57 second-half points in a 93-90 season-opening loss to Virginia Sunday in the inaugural game of brand-new, sold-out John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

    Guard J.P. Prince, who entered the game for the first time with eight seconds left to play, missed a last-second desperation 3-pointer to seal the deal, but the Wildcats (0-1) let Virginia (1-0) right back in the game after taking a 45-26 lead in the first half.

    With Virginia leading 92-90, UVA guard J.R. Reynolds missed his first free throw after being fouled by guard Mustafa Shakur, who fouled out on the play, but Reynolds made the second. The Wildcats chose not to call a timeout despite having two at their disposal and in-bounded the ball to Wise, who dribbled into the frontcourt before finding Prince for the 3-pointer, which clanged off the rim.

    “”At that point, you want to get it down where they don’t have an opportunity to discuss what they’re going to do,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said by phone Sunday night. “”We’re not going to call a timeout in that situation. We got a great look at it, and we just didn’t make the shot.””

    Forward Mamadi Diane and guard Sean Singletary each scored 25 points for Virginia, who nursed an 89-83 lead that was cut in half by forward Ivan Radenovic’s 3-pointer with 1:23 left.

    With 26 seconds left, Reynolds fell down and lost the ball as UA guard Jawann McClellan picked it up, but McClellan drove the lane and whipped a pass to Radenovic that was stolen as it hit his hands, forcing Arizona to foul.

    “”I was disappointed with a couple of free break situations where we had people open and we didn’t get the ball to them,”” Olson said. “”You convert a couple of those that should have been converted, it’s a different game.””

    The Cavaliers, whose 57 second-half points were the most by an Arizona opponent in a half since the Wildcats gave up 57 to Liberty in a 107-91 win on Dec. 28, 2003, tied the game at 68 with an 18-9 run with 11:07 remaining. It was the first tie since the teams were knotted at 14 with 14:04 left in the first half.

    “”We didn’t come out in the same type of attack mode,”” said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner. “”We didn’t defend well, we weren’t aggressive offensively and they took it right at us. What we did to them in the first half, they did to us the second half.””

    Radenovic, who led the Wildcats with 24 points, scored seven of Arizona’s next nine points to give the Wildcats a 77-72 lead. But Reynolds made a free throw and forward Jason Cain – who had 13 points and 12 rebounds – scored on a dunk and a put-back to tie the game, starting a 14-5 run to put Virginia up 86-82.

    Diane scored seven of his points in the final 5:51, including a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give Virginia its first lead of the game since early in the first half at 80-79. After McClellan followed with a 3-pointer to put Arizona up 82-80, the Wildcats did not lead again.

    “”They started hitting 3s, and they were in bonus just over five minutes into the second half,”” Olson said. “”They were able to take us off the dribble and create a lot of openings.””

    The Cavaliers made nine of 12 free throws in the last 4:10 and forward Marcus Williams fouled out with 2:56 left to play on an off-ball foul to make matters worse for Arizona.

    Williams and McClellan each had 18 points, while freshman Chase Budinger scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half.

    “”He was kind of like the rest of our team,”” Pastner said of Budinger. “”He wasn’t as aggressive on the offensive end – he wasn’t the only one, it was a bunch of people. I really thought first half he came out with a bang. He’s just gotta put those two halves together, which he will.””

    Shakur, who played just 28 minutes, was also in foul trouble, picking up his third early in the second half. The senior point guard didn’t score until four minutes went by in the second half and totaled five points and six assists for the game, shooting 0-for-5 from the field.

    “”Getting Mustafa those two fouls and putting him on the bench with four fouls for a majority part of the second half really changed the dynamics and the momentum of the game,”” Pastner said.

    Virginia began to hack away at the lead at the end of the first half, closing Arizona’s 19-point lead with a 10-4 run. The Cavaliers then cut the 13-point halftime lead to 53-48 before McClellan knocked down a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding.

    “”We didn’t cut off penetration, we were very poor from help side, and we put them to the free-throw line way too much,”” Pastner said.

    Reynolds, who didn’t start and was ineffective in the first half after being poked in the eye in Wednesday’s practice, scored 10 points in the second half after shedding his goggles and playing with swelling around his eye.

    After Virginia opened a 10-4 lead to start the game, Arizona took off on a 20-6 run, building a 30-16 lead. Radenovic scored the first six points of the run, making a free throw, a 3-pointer and a layup.

    Several possessions later, with Virginia leading 14-12, Budinger made a corkscrew layup and a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game, which they held for much of the contest as the offense faced little difficulty putting points on the board.

    “”The problem is not offense,”” Olson said. “”It’s just that we have to have everyone step up defensively. Offensively we’re fine, but we need to do a better job of stopping them without fouling.””

    And 1

    Michael Buffer started the festivities before the game with his famous “”Let’s get ready to rumble”” line at center court. …Arizona dropped five spots in the Associated Press poll, from No. 10 to No. 15.

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