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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Hoops dominate Bengals in season opener

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona men’s basketball team opened their season against Idaho State in McKale Center Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. The ‘Cats rolled to a 90-42 victory.

Inferior opponent or not, Arizona basketball announced that, win or lose, they’re going to be relentless, a trait that was hard to find a year ago.

A 26-0 run over nearly 13 minutes was all the Wildcats needed to dispatch the Idaho State Bengals team, 90-42, in McKale Center on Sunday, doing so with stifling defense and hot shooting.

“”We really sent a message about playing at McKale,”” said sophomore Solomon Hill. “”It shouldn’t be easy to play at McKale, and we’re trying to re-establish that.””

Forward Derrick Williams led the team with 16 points in only 20 minutes as head coach Sean Miller saw 11 players earn at least 10 minutes of playing time. As a team, the Wildcats shot 59.6 percent from the field and went 11-for-21 from the 3-point line, mostly against a 2-3 zone defense.

It was also the consistent, nonstop attack that pleased the Wildcats’ head coach.

“”We had really good ball movement on our end and took good shots,”” Miller said. “”We really tried to play our style of defense and get our players in the game, fresh. I know that a year ago, I don’t think we would’ve had the same defensive effort for 40 minutes.””

The Wildcats’ season opener was refreshing, coming off a lackluster exhibition win against Augustana College last Sunday. But it was also intriguing that the same Bengal team had taken Arizona’s future Pacific 12 Conference foe, Colorado, to the limit in a 88-80 loss Friday behind 39 points from point guard Broderick Gilchrest. He finished with four points against Arizona.

“”We kind of struggled with (defending) guard play last year,”” said Hill, who scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. “”I think it was the mindset of getting consistent stops, back to back.””

Most of the defense came from sophomore Momo Jones, who scored six points and dished four assists. Backup Jordin Mayes also controlled the offense well, posting the same stat line.

With 7:57 remaining in the first half and the Wildcats leading 23-15 , 7-foot Bengal center Deividas Busma picked up his third foul after accounting for 12 of the first 15 Bengal points. He shot 6-for-7 from the field during that span, readily hitting turnaround jumpers over the 6-foot-8 Williams.

At the time of Busma’s departure, Arizona went on an 18-0 run to finish the half and not allowing another Bengal point. By halftime, the score read 41-15, and only three Idaho State points came from anyone other than Busma.

“”I think it was just big plays, getting our crowd into it,”” Williams said. “”I think a couple good plays got us into that.””

The Bengals wouldn’t score again until the 18:04 mark of the second half. And it only got worse.

Arizona took a 44 point, 68-24, lead following five consecutive 3-pointers — three by Lavender and two by Mayes — halfway through the second half. Arizona’s biggest lead was 53 points, which came on freshman Daniel Bejarano’s first shot of his career, a 3-pointer.

The Wildcats’ win was a good confidence boost, Miller said, but not a revelation.

“”Did we play together? Did we play hard? I think we answered the bell on both of those,”” Miller said. “”We could be talking on Thursday (after playing New Mexico State) in a very difficult moment. Tonight is nothing more of the big win, in terms of the margin.””

And 1

The McKale crowd appeared dreary for the most part, but finally awoke with 15:53 remaining when Jones threw a seemingly high alley-oop pass to Williams who slammed the reverse dunk and later said he was surprised he had made the basket.

“”I called for the lob and Mo (Jones) threw it. I actually jumped before he threw it. I was already coming down. I just threw it behind my head. I didn’t know it went in until the stand started to cheer.””


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