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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    In a ‘Phog’ in the Fieldhouse

    LAWRENCE, Kan. – The sign hanging at the top of Allen Fieldhouse serves as due caution for all visitors who take to the floor: “”Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of ‘The Phog.’ “”

    It’s a warning that Kansas has won 601 games in the Fieldhouse after beating Arizona 76-72 on Sunday in the 53-year-old stadium that has sold out for 97 straight games, in a place where the Jayhawks have led their conference in attendance for 21 straight years.

    Early on it looked like the Wildcats would fold under that pressure as Kansas ran out to an early 13-0 run, but Arizona battled back against the No. 4 Jayhawks and their crowd all evening.

    “”I feel, personally, I like playing on the road better than I do at home,”” said forward Chase Budinger. “”I like the crowds for the other team – gets me excited, gets me hyped.””

    Budinger showed that with a season-high 27 points in a loud, old-school gym filled with bleachers.

    The students make up about a quarter of the 16,300-person venue, sitting behind the basket on both sides like Arizona’s student section used to be. The band keeps playing the Kansas fight song over and over until you’re humming along with them.

    Before the game, fans perform the “”Rock Chalk Jayhawk”” chant, which would seem to fit better at a cult meeting than a basketball game (although you could argue Kansas basketball is a cult in itself).

    During the starting lineup introductions, KU students hold up newspapers to show their lack of respect for the visitors. Then they rip them up and throw them up in the air like confetti when each Kansas starter is announced and during key portions of the game.

    It should come as no surprise that the Wildcats hit only 14 of their 21 free throws, as the Kansas student section coordinates waves.

    Sometimes they all lean one way and then quickly wave their arms the other way while the shooter attempts the shot. Other times they wave their hands in a circular motion to throw the shot off.

    Although there were empty pockets at the top of what appeared to be the student section, I’ve never experienced a louder gym than the Fieldhouse when UA guard Nic Wise brought the ball up court after Kansas guard Mario Chalmers tied the game with a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left.

    The old building shook as the fans worked up a frenzy, before the Wildcats called a timeout to regroup for that last shot in a game UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill compared to playoff basketball in the NBA.

    I can only imagine what it would have sounded like if Brandon Rush’s nearly three-quarters-court heave rolled around and stayed in to end regulation.

    Michael Schwartz, assistant sports editor

    Both hoop squads suffer from youth, turnovers

    Both the Arizona men’s and women’s basketball teams picked up losses on Sunday, each in the same gut-wrenching fashion of immature turnovers.

    Beginning in the afternoon, the women’s squad shot a season-best 55.6 percent from the field against Middle Tennessee State, led by forward Ify Ibekwe, who contributed a spectacular 22 points off 10-of-11 shooting from the field – the second-highest shooting percentage in school history.

    But as the buckets fell, turnovers poured. Middle Tennessee scored a quick six points off Arizona’s barrage of sloppy play to begin the game. The young Wildcats – or, should I say, Wildkittens – ended with 20 turnovers and a 70-60 defeat.

    Arizona fans experienced déjÇÿ vu on the men’s side, as similar sloppy ball-handling and passing dropped the unranked Wildcats to a quick 20-9 deficit against No. 4 Kansas. Arizona surmounted an intimidating Kansas crowd to force overtime, despite 25 turnovers over the course of the game. Although sophomore sensation Chase Budinger finished with 27 points – most of them in clutch situations as Arizona’s go-to scorer – the Wildcats dropped ESPN’s primetime battle in overtime 76-72.

    Where to point for all the mistakes? Bittersweet growing pains from young talented players still hurt during the initial debut, as underclassmen cope with adapting to college play,

    At the men’s game, one freshman, three sophomores and a senior consumed most of the minutes on the court in Kansas.

    Back in McKale, three of the five women who played the most minutes were underclassmen.

    Potential brings hope, however, for the last time I checked, growing pains are curable.

    -Bryan Roy, sports writer

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