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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless tries to get between ASU guards Derek Glasser, left, and James Harden, right, in yesterdays Wildcat 59-54 loss in McKale Center. Bayless scored a career-high 39 points.
    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless tries to get between ASU guards Derek Glasser, left, and James Harden, right, in yesterday’s Wildcat 59-54 loss in McKale Center. Bayless scored a career-high 39 points.

    ASU 59, Arizona 54

    Jerryd Bayless took an inbounds pass in the final seconds of yesterday’s ASU game with his team’s fate already sealed, angrily took a few dribbles with a determined look on his face and then pounded the ball down the court like a volleyball server, his frustration spilling onto the McKale Center floor.

    Then he stood on the baseline by the student section for a couple seconds by himself, as he had done symbolically throughout Arizona’s 59-54 loss to the Sun Devils in which he received little help from his teammates while playing a career game.

    His mood stayed the same in the locker room as he changed into a suit and tie that looked as smooth as his jumper in the game. He spoke quickly and succinctly while being interviewed, sometimes responding before a reporter even finished his question.

    “”We’ve tried everything, we’ve got to figure something out,”” Bayless said before adding, “”I’m pissed right now.””

    At the start of the contest it looked like Bayless could win the game alone. The freshman guard scored 16 of Arizona’s first 20 points as the Wildcats (15-8, 5-5 Pacific 10 Conference) jumped out to a 22-6 lead 12 minutes into the game against an ASU squad (15-7, 5-5) that had lost five in a row.

    He eventually hit his first six shots to give him 20 points in the first 12:30 of the contest. It took a Jeff Pendergraph dunk with 5:22 left in the first half for the Sun Devils to outscore Bayless as a team.

    Bayless finished with 26 points in the first half and 39 for the game, which tied a Pac-10 record for freshman in league play set by USC’s Cliff Robinson in 1978 and accounted for 72 percent of Arizona’s points.

    “”Jerryd played a monster game, a monster game,”” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill.

    Had Bayless hit a game-tying 3 in the final seconds, an off-balanced attempt on which he tried to draw a foul, he would have set the record previously held by UCLA’s Don MacLean from a 1988 game against North Texas.

    But this wasn’t North Texas, this was ASU, the Wildcats’ instate rival who they had beaten 24 of 25 times before being swept this season, losing their first game to the Devils in McKale Center since 1995. That was also the year the last time an Arizona player scored more points than Bayless, whose output tied for eighth-best in school history.

    Despite hitting 12-of-18 shots, all nine of his free throws and 6-of-10 3-pointers, Bayless – a Phoenix native who missed the teams’ first meeting because of a sprained knee – shot down a reporter who suggested this was his best game as a Wildcat, which did not surprise O’Neill at all.

    “”Jerryd cares more about winning than anything else,”” O’Neill said. “”It’s a trait that all basketball players need. Jerryd only cares about winning. He doesn’t care about the other things in college life, he didn’t care about getting 39 and losing.””

    The Wildcats’ needed Bayless’ heroic effort because the rest of the team shot a combined 3-for-23 (13 percent), with no player other than Bayless knocking down more than one shot.

    “”You’re not going to win many games like that,”” O’Neill said.

    Forward Chase Budinger shot worse than most, missing 11-of-12 shots and all six of his 3-pointers. O’Neill said Budinger got open shots against ASU’s zone that he would like the sophomore to shoot, but he just missed them, much like his 4-for-13 shooting performance in Tempe on Jan. 9.

    “”Just everything I put up just wasn’t going in,”” Budinger said. “”Just one of those nights.””

    Forward Jordan Hill did not do much either, picking up two fouls in the first five minutes and then sitting the rest of the half.

    In his absence, forward Jeff Pendergraph torched the Wildcats inside, scoring 20 of his team-high 29 points in the first half on 8-for-10 shooting to help the Devils pull to within one point at halftime.

    “”Soon as Jordan got in foul trouble they went to Pendergraph, who dominated us in the first half without Jordan in there,”” O’Neill said. “”Unfortunately for us we didn’t make enough shots to have a chance to win the game.””

    Bayless became the Wildcats’ sole source of offense without the drive and kick game of injured point guard Nic Wise, leading Arizona to assist on just 10 baskets, 6.4 below its season average.

    In Wise’s place, guard Daniel Dillon did not score in his 38 minutes of play, meaning he has scored four points in 82 total minutes against the Devils this year.

    “”(Wise) is one of the key guys for our team,”” Budinger said. “”He’s our true point guard. He gets other people the ball in the right places, and in a game like tonight we really miss him.””

    After the Wildcats went up by 16 eight minutes into the game, the Devils outscored Arizona 48-19 over the next 25 minutes to take a 13-point lead.

    Then Bayless took over once again down the stretch, scoring 10 points in the final six-plus minutes, including a 3 and a 2 in the final 1:30 to cut an eight-point lead to three.

    But when the refs did not bail him on his last-gasp, leaning attempt, that was all for naught.

    “”It’s very frustrating,”” Bayless said.

    And 1

    Before tipoff the McKale Center crowd observed a moment of silence for former UA football head coach Larry Smith, who died Jan. 28 after a bout with chronic lymphatic leukemia.

    It’s fitting that this came before the game against ASU because Smith was known for “”The Streak,”” five straight wins over the Sun Devils, including two that kept them out of the Rose Bowl. …

    After scoring 26 in the first meeting, ASU guard James Harden struggled, scoring five points on 1-for-5 shooting. He did not start and missed time in practice this week because of a virus. …

    Forward Jamelle Horne said his knee felt good enough to play against the Devils, but O’Neill did not use him. Horne underwent an MRI Friday, which cleared him to return to action after he experienced soreness on Thursday.

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