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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Fight to the finish

Fight to the finish

Clutch shooting, overtime and the Arizona men’s basketball team’s first scrap of the season all culminated in the Wildcats’ 81-73 overtime victory over the Oregon State Beavers on Thursday.

The game reached its emotional peak after senior Kyle Fogg hit a layup off a defensive rebound by Josiah Turner and was fouled by OSU’s Jared Cunningham. Fogg’s celebratory yell and bump to Cunningham’s shoulder took things to a boiling point in an intense contest between the two schools right in front of Arizona’s bench.

Wildcat players hustled under Arizona’s hoop to defend Fogg and Wildcat head coach Sean Miller lost his tie trying to hold back 7-footer Kyryl Natyazhko.

“I didn’t even remember taking off my tie,” Miller said. “I’m not trying to show off or whatever. Somehow my hands got to my tie and took it off.”

Natyazhko and OSU’s Joe Burton were ejected for leaving the bench at the 1:15 mark of the overtime period, and both Fogg and Cunningham were given technical fouls — the fifth foul for each player.

“I’ll classify tonight’s game as our best win of the year,” Miller said. “We had to be resilient. We had to fight through some bad plays, and we fought very hard.”

The Wildcats and Beavers went to overtime after Fogg hit the game-tying layup with the clock ticking down in regulation, tying the game at 72. Beaver guard Ahmad Starks, who had scored the OSU’s last nine points, took a wide-open 3-pointer after a move to shake sophomore guard Jordin Mayes, but missed and the game went to overtime.

“I feel bad for Ahmad Starks because he had the game winner,” Miller said. “He hit a couple tough ones to put his team in position to take that last one.”

Before Fogg’s make, the Beavers and Wildcats had battled basket-to-basket with neither team leading by more than four points from the nine-minute mark on.

The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game with an 8-0 run sparked by Brendon Lavender’s two 3-pointers with 12 minutes to play.

“He made five threes at key moments in the game. It seemed like they all came when our backs were against the wall,” Miller said of Lavender’s shooting performance. “Every shot he took was a big one.”

Despite the struggles from beyond the arc last weekend, it was Arizona’s 12-for-22 effort from 3-point shooting that kept the Wildcats in the game against the Beavers. Lavender matched a career-high with 18 points, but said hitting five of six 3-pointers was much more satisfying.

“It was more meaningful to me because I think those shots came at a really clutch time,” Lavender said. “Kind of sparked us.”

Freshman guard Nick Johnson snapped out of his funk, scoring 19 points and making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Combined, Fogg, Lavender and Johnson scored 60 of Arizona’s 81 points.

Arizona hosts Oregon in McKale Center on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

And-1

The skirmish near the end of the overtime period had a lot of emotion, but Miller said it wasn’t something the game should be remembered for.

“There’s a lot of emotion and young people sometimes can get carried away,” Miller said. “It was just a hard fought game. I don’t really have any comment.”

Athletic director Greg Byrne said the Pac-12 Conference would look at the tape today before an official announcement would be made about possible suspensions. However, he said that to his understanding of the rule, he doesn’t believe suspensions would be handed out.

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