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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wins at home will satisfy Cats

    To quote Aesop in one of his most famous fables, “”The Tortoise and the Hare,”” “”slow but steady wins the race.””

    There isn’t a better quote to define Washington State (11-14, 4-12 Pacific 10 Conference), as the Cougars come to McKale Center tonight for a game televised by FSN Arizona in hopes of avenging their 70-52 loss to Arizona (17-10, 10-6) on Dec. 29 and breaking up the recent momentum generated by the Wildcats, winners of four of their past five games.

    The Cougars will bring to Tucson a “”slow it down””-type offense averaging just 58.3 points a game, 15 points less than what Arizona head coach Lute Olson’s squad is putting up offensively.

    “”Going into Washington State, they’re a team if you get down it’s going to be real hard to come back because they run such good stuff and slow it down and get the best shot,”” junior center Kirk Walters said.

    If the Wildcats’ recent play is any indication of how they plan on finishing the conference season, the Cougars should be more worried about Arizona defending their extremely particular offense.

    “”I feel like everybody’s been playing hard defensively, especially with the addition of (senior guard) Chris (Rodgers) coming back,”” freshman forward Fendi Onobun said. “”He’s just really brought that to a whole other level. His defense has always beengreat, but with him back on the team he’s getting guys amped up to play defense and cause turnovers and get transition buckets.””

    That was the case Saturday against ASU, when the Wildcats’ aggressive defense held the Sun Devils to just 13 points in the first half and 15 turnovers to just one assist.

    “”I thought (Saturday’s game) was a big indication of how good our defense can be,”” Rodgers said. “”(When) we focus on our intensity, everybody is doing the best they can defensively.””

    The Wildcats are finally starting to allow defense to turn into offense, something that lacked in their early-season struggles.

    “”I think we really got to doing our stuff and didn’t let up,”” Walters said. “”We got a lot of turnovers out of them (which led) to a lot of easy buckets.””

    The Wildcats will be looking for junior forward Ivan Radenovic to continue his recent strong play that has players and coaches alike gushing about his last five games.

    Since the Feb. 9 victory over Oregon, Radenovic has surpassed or tied career highs in points, steals, field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, free throws made and minutes.

    “”I think he’s done what he’s done because he’s saying, ‘Hey if this team is going to step up another notch, it’s going to depend on me stepping up and being a consistent factor in every game,'”” Olson said. “”We’ve adjusted some things to make sure the ball gets in his hands, and I think he likes that.””

    With Radenovic’s play and the 68-47 victory over ASU Saturday, just the second Wildcat victory with a margin over 20 points in conference play, the players understand that this is the time to step it up and finish the job.

    “”For us, we can’t (let up) because all these games are must-win games, so we have to be able to get up for every game,”” freshman forward Marcus Williams said. “”It’s at our home court, the fans have been great, so we haven’t really had any problem getting up (for the game).””

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