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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona upsets No. 4 Gonzaga

    Arizona guard Nic Wise jumps into Gonzaga guard Austin Daye (5) before passing the ball out to UA guard Kyle Fogg (not pictured) in a 69-64 win over the No. 4 Bulldogs in the U.S. Airways Center on Sunday.
    Arizona guard Nic Wise jumps into Gonzaga guard Austin Daye (5) before passing the ball out to UA guard Kyle Fogg (not pictured) in a 69-64 win over the No. 4 Bulldogs in the U.S. Airways Center on Sunday.

    Arizona 69, No. 4 Gonzaga 64

    PHOENIX – UA men’s basketball interim head coach Russ Pennell approached guard Nic Wise in the locker room before the Wildcats’ bout with No. 4 Gonzaga on Sunday afternoon and asked him a question.

    “”‘What is one word to describe this game?’ I said, ‘Composure,'”” Wise recalled. “”Make sure we keep our composure.””

    The Wildcats (7-2) did just that, playing up to the challenge and upsetting the Bulldogs (7-1) 69-64 in the Desert Classic in the U.S. Airways Center, controlling the momentum the entire game.

    “”This is a top-ranked team and they’re going to make runs,”” Wise said of Gonzaga. “”They’re long and they have really good players. … We just had to stay together. That’s the only way we were gonna win it: just stay together.””

    Wise went to free throw line with 8.1 seconds left and made one of two shots for his 21st point of the game. The guard stole the ball at mid-court on the Gonzaga inbounds and ran around with it until time expired, then hurled the ball up in celebration.

    “”We feel like we were underrated,”” Wise said. “”We were the underdog coming in. We had nothing to lose in this game. We wanted to shock the world, and we did.””

    UA forward Jordan Hill, who scored a team-high 22 points, sank two free throw shots to five Arizona a 64-62 lead with 1:17 left in the game, then Gonzaga’s Jeremy Pargo was called for a traveling violation when the Bulldogs went up the floor. Hill knocked down a hook shot, changing the score to 66-62, only to have Gonzaga guard Matt Bouldin dunk in two points on a face break.

    Then Wise went to the line twice to seal the game.

    “”We work on our end-of-game situations a lot, and in this instance we didn’t do a good job and Arizona did,”” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. “”They did a nice job there. Played good D, got the rebound and made their free throws.””

    Pennell only used seven players in the game, utilizing forward Zane Johnson for nine minutes, and center Alex Jacobson for 14.

    “”I just thought tonight the guys I felt could step in and help us,”” Pennell said. “”I tell our guys after every game, it could be different people. This team is going to be three guys (Wise, Hill and forward Chase Budinger) and the rest of them by committee.””

    The Wildcats went to the locker room with a 35-34 lead at halftime, but Budinger remembered Thursday night, when Gonzaga went into halftime against Washington State leading 32-29, then came out and beat the Cougars 74-52.

    “”One big thing that we had on the back of our minds was the same thing happened to Washington State,”” said Budinger, who scored 14 points. “”They were pretty much tied going into halftime, and in the second half Gonzaga came out and really just killed them. Just put them away. And we kinda knew that we couldn’t let that happen.

    “”We just came out with the same intensity, tried trapping as much as we could, and play a game of just 40 minutes,”” Budinger added. “”And that’s what we did.””

    Arizona played the final 2:37 of the first half without Hill, as he picked up his third foul of the game when he shouldered a defender in the lane and was called for charging. He had contributed 10 points in 15 minutes.

    “”The difference today that we talked about in the locker room before the game (was) us three (he, Hill and Budinger) had to make sure we stayed out of foul trouble,”” said Wise, referring to the Dec. 5 game at Texas A&M, which he fouled out of. “”And if we get a foul in the first half, then sit on it to make sure we were fresh in the second half.””

    The Wildcats began the game on a 6-0 run, thanks to a Hill 3-point play and a 3-pointer from the right side by Wise.

    Gonzaga, which couldn’t convert on its first four possessions, didn’t score until Bouldin hit a 3-pointer 2:36 into the game.

    The Bulldogs showed they weren’t going to be rolled over so easily when guard Steven Gray tied the game 8-8 with a 3-pointer at the 15:28 mark. Just 3:17 later, Gonzaga took its first lead, 15-14, with an ally-oop dunk by guard Micah Downs on a fast break after a Budinger layup attempt was blocked on Arizona’s end. A Johnson 3 and a Hill 17-footer, however, gave the Wildcats a 19-15 lead.

    And still, Gonzaga fought back. The Bulldogs led by 3 points twice late in the first half.

    Wise, who played with a high amount of energy in the opening 20 minutes, though careless at times, tied the game at 30 with a trey with 3:17 left in the half.

    “”He can make those 3s of those ball screens and he’s making really good decisions and making plays. I mean, they have three really, really high-level players,”” Few said of Wise, Hill and Budinger. “”I know he hasn’t done that all year, but when he’s going that, I don’t see any reason why (the Wildcats) don’t compete for the top spot in the Pac-10 the way it is this year.””

    And 1

    Arizona is now 7-16 when facing the nation’s fourth-ranked team, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Wildcats’ last win against a fourth-ranked opponent came on March 25, 2001 vs. Illinois.

    This win marks UA’s first over a top-5 school since the Wildcats beat No. 2 Maryland on Nov. 8 2001.

    Ten of Arizona’s final 15 points came from the free throw line. The Wildcats went 16-for-21 from the charity stripe in the game.

    Arizona and Gonzaga were very similar in many categories. They each scored 28 points in the paint and each had nine second-chance points. The Bulldogs had 10 fast-break points, while the Wildcats scored seven.

    Both teams even shot an identical 46.4 percent (13-for-20) from the floor in the first half.

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