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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wise leads Arizona while injured Hill sits out

    UA forward Jordan Hill, center, watches the game from the bench with forwards Fendi Onobun, left, and DJ Shumpert, right, in the UAs 71-65 win over Weber State on Monday in McKale Center. Hill suffered a muscle sprain in his lower left leg in Saturdays practice.
    UA forward Jordan Hill, center, watches the game from the bench with forwards Fendi Onobun, left, and DJ Shumpert, right, in the UA’s 71-65 win over Weber State on Monday in McKale Center. Hill suffered a muscle sprain in his lower left leg in Saturday’s practice.

    Arizona 71, Weber State 65

    Two unlikely spectators took in the Arizona men’s basketball team’s win against Weber State in McKale Center on Monday night.

    Junior forward Jordan Hill sat on the bench in jeans, casual shoes, a collared shirt and a zip-up jacket because of a lower muscle strain he suffered in his left leg during practice on Saturday.

    In the stands across the court, former UA head coach Lute Olson took in his first game in person since he retired on Oct. 24, watching Arizona (9-3) defeat Weber State (6-7) 71-65 before 13,492 spectators.

    Hill’s injury is a day-to-day ailment, said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell, and his sitting out was a precaution to keep him fresh for the opening of Pacific 10 Conference play in the Bay Area this upcoming weekend.

    “”We really didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but it’s just been real sore,”” Pennell said. “”… He was out on the floor (Monday) testing it, so it’s not like he’s laid up and can’t move at all. He kind of landed funny on it -ÿI don’t know exactly.

    “”I’m obviously not a doctor, but he just twisted his foot a little bit, and it’s kind of a unique injury,”” Pennell added. “”It’s a muscle that surrounds your tibia, and he strained it, from what I understand.””

    Without Hill – Arizona’s leader in scoring (18.9 points per game) and rebounding (11.8 boards per game) – his roommate, guard Nic Wise, stepped up and netted a career-high 23 points to go with five rebounds.

    Wise shot 9-for-17 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

    “”I just tried to be more assertive,”” Wise said. “”It was kind of weird. It was our first time playing without Jordan. He’s our finisher. He’s the guy that finishes off plays for us. We didn’t have him, and everybody had to step up -ÿme and Chase (Budinger) included.””

    The point guard’s production helped balance out Budinger’s continued slump -ÿhe shot 3-for-14, with all of his field goals coming in the second half. This comes after Budinger scored only 5 points in last week’s win over Kansas.

    But Pennell isn’t worried about Budinger’s production.

    “”He’ll get in the gym, he’ll get it worked out,”” Pennell said. “”He had some good looks tonight. He gets to the foul like 12 times, he has 12 rebounds, 16 points, and we’re thinking he had a bad night. If Chase gets those same 14 looks every game, I’d be very happy.””

    Added Budinger: “”The shot feels good, they’re just not going in. I’ve been getting extra work in. It will come around, I’m not worried about it. I just need one of those break-out games to get my confidence back up. Once that happens I’ll be fine.””

    With Arizona’s big man in Hill not playing, the Wildcats also had other players chip in.

    Jamelle Horne scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds, and Kyle Fogg had 10 points and six boards, showing Arizona could in fact adjust to a game without one of the Big Three – a stark contrast to last year’s team that struggled when either Jerryd Bayless or Wise was out of commission.

    “”I think that tonight Jamelle stepped up big for us. Kyle stepped up. Garland. People that you really didn’t count on last year compared to this year -ÿthey really stepped up for us,”” Budinger said. “”If one of us – me, Nic or Jordan – go down, I think that they do a good job at stepping up and rising to the occasion.””

    Arizona went up by as many as 9 points often throughout the game, but Weber State cut the lead many times, and never went away completely.

    The second half opened with a huge amount of intensity from both teams, surged by hot 3-point shooting.

    Guard Damian Lillard opened the half with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc 24 seconds in to give Weber State a 33-31 lead, but he was countered with a Wise jumper to tie the game.

    Lillard hit another 3 but was countered by a Kyle Fogg trey.

    “”I’ve been aggressive and working on my shot, and I thought I could help the team with my shooting,”” said Lillard, who scored 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting, including 3-for-10 from 3-point land, for the Wildcats in purple. “”They were giving me the ball so I figured the least I could do was make some shots.””

    Another Lillard basket – marking his eighth straight point for Weber State -ÿwas again offset by a Kyle Fogg long ball, followed by 3-pointers from Wise and Budinger gave the home team a 45-38 advantage.

    After going up 47-38, a pair of 3s by Weber State cut the lead to 47-44 at the 14:11 mark.

    But an alley-oop dunk from Budinger with a pass from Wise gave Arizona another 9-point lead, 58-49, at the 9:33 mark.

    For the most part it was smooth sailing for Arizona for rest of the second half.

    “”We got some secret stuff at halftime that we drink. That lets us play better,”” Budinger said with a smile. “”No, we come into halftime and just try to make adjustments. We get a feel in the first half how to play the other team. The coaches do a good job at making the adjustments for us.””

    But the coaches are hoping they don’t have to adjust to playing without Hill for too long. Pennell said he is hopeful Hill will be healthy enough to play at California on Friday.

    “”I think the biggest thing was just adjusting to not playing with (Hill), Pennell said. “”He’s such an (important) part of what we do, even on our offense. Everything goes inside first. He demands everybody’s attention so much that it opens up the other guys.””

    And 1
    Neither Wise nor Budinger knew Olson would be in attendance for the game.

    “”He was?”” Wise responded when asked if he knew the Hall-of-Fame coach was watching. “”They didn’t show him on the screen or anything? What’s up with that?””

    Pennell said he knew Olson would be watching, because assistant coach Matt Brase, Olson’s grandson, told Pennell before the game.

    “”I never could find him. Matt tried to tell me where he was. I looked before the game. I kind of knew where he was supposed to be sitting. I’d look, and then I’d think, ‘Well, I’m supposed to be coaching,'”” Pennell said with a smile.

    “”I’ve told Coach all along, he’s always welcome, not that he needs my permission to come to a game, but I’m talking about even around our team,”” Pennell added. “”I just want him to understand that.””

    Arizona redshirt freshman Alex Jacobson, a 6-foot-11 true center, started in Hill’s spot. He had five rebounds, but didn’t score with a 0-for-5 outing from the floor in 16 minutes.

    “”He did pretty well,”” Wise said of Jacobson. “”He played hard, he cut off a lot of the penetration for the other players, he was rebounding well. That’s all we need from him.””

    With 4:27 left in the game, Horne dunked a ball to give Arizona a 65-56 lead, but officials had to check him after that because he was bleeding from the mouth.

    “”He got hit, but it was on the inside, so since it wasn’t an outward cut, he was allowed to stay in the game,”” Pennell said.

    Coming into this game, Weber State, located in Ogden, Utah, and Arizona hadn’t played each other in 39 years, despite being just 626 miles apart. The teams’ last meeting together resulted in a 72-68 UA win under coach Fred Snowden on Dec. 4, 1969.

    Arizona is now 4-0 all time against Weber State.

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