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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Beavers waiting for UA in Semifinals

LOS ANGELES — It can take days to recover from a hard-fought, emotional win — much like the Arizona basketball team’s 66-58 victory over UCLA on Thursday.

The Wildcats will have 24 hours.

Arizona will take on Oregon State in the first Pac-12 Conference Tournament semifinal tonight at 7 in Staples Center after the Beavers upset No. 1-seeded Washington on Thursday.

Even though Arizona has a little less than a day to scout and prepare for the Beavers, UA forward Jesse Perry said he doesn’t think that’ll be much of an issue.

“It’s tough but it’s just basketball,” Perry said. “It’s like AAU ball … you play five games in three days. I think the coaches prepared us to be ready for tomorrow.”

Still, having less than one day to prepare poses a challenge. But after the Wildcats’ run to the championship game in last year’s conference tournament, senior guard Kyle Fogg said the UA knows how to deal with such short turnarounds.

“I think it’s huge,” Fogg said. “Us older guys really know what to expect and we can kind of tell these younger guys how it’s gonna be.”

Perry said Arizona didn’t watch any of the Oregon State game on Thursday, but the two schools are more than familiar with one another. The Wildcats snuck past Oregon State 81-73 in overtime earlier this season and the two schools have split the season series the past two years.

The last two meetings have involved some kind of scuffle between the teams, both of which resulted in at least one ejection. But, despite those dustups, junior forward Solomon Hill said he looks at Oregon State’s togetherness as a sign of the program’s growth over the past two seasons.

“Now you can see that they’re playing together very well,” Hill said. “I wouldn’t really call it a rivalry, but there’s just a lot of emotion out there. Sometimes that collides.”

Junior guard Jared Cunningham, who averaged 17.8 points per game this season on 43.6 percent shooting from the field, leads the Beavers. But Cunningham has struggled in the Pac-12 Tournament through two games, combining to score 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting without hitting a 3-pointer.

Still, the Wildcats will put all-conference defender Kyle Fogg on Cunningham in hopes of limiting the Beavers’ most dangerous player.

But, despite Cunningham’s limited production, the Beavers have still found ways to win — thanks in large part to speedy guard Ahmad Starks. The 5-foot-9 Chicago native scored 14 points and hit 4-of-6 3-pointers in the upset of Washington and scored 14 points in Arizona’s overtime win earlier this season.

“He’s got a nice stroke on him from 3-point range,” said sophomore guard Jordin Mayes, who will be matched up defensively with Starks. “You’ve just got to battle on defense and keep him in front of you.”

Junior big man Joe Burton also gives the Beavers a scoring threat down low with his physical 6-foot-7, 280-pound frame. But after the task of slowing down UCLA big men Josh Smith, Travis Wear and David Wear, Perry is ready for the task.

“I ain’t gonna change nothing,” Perry said. “Just playing hard and bringing a lot of energy to the game.”

That energy may be hard to come by on such a short turnaround, especially working against the Beavers’ frustrating 1-3-1 zone. Still, UA head coach Sean Miller is confident heading into tonight’s matchup.

“It’s tough to get ready for that in one day,” Miller said. “We’ll be ready.”

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