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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Developing defense does it for Cats

    Arizona forward Marcus Williams dunks during the second half of the No. 14 Wildcats 69-48 win at San Diego State Saturday. Williams recorded his first career double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds on his way to game MVP honors.
    Arizona forward Marcus Williams dunks during the second half of the No. 14 Wildcats’ 69-48 win at San Diego State Saturday. Williams recorded his first career double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds on his way to game MVP honors.

    No. 14 Arizona 69, San Diego State 48

    SAN DIEGO – It was a homecoming for Chase Budinger, but it was Marcus Williams who made himself feel at home once again.

    While Budinger had an up and down night in front of the fourth-largest crowd in Cox Arena history, most of whom jeered him, Williams was back to his old self of last year, scoring 21 points and grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds in No. 14 Arizona’s 69-48 victory over San Diego State Saturday night.

    “”He played incredible,”” said guard Mustafa Shakur, who had 14 points and five assists. “”I didn’t even know he had 16 rebounds. When I saw that, I said, ‘That’s crazy,’ especially for him. He hasn’t had a big rebound output in a while, so I’m happy for him to come back after having a lackluster performance in New York. I’m proud of him.””

    Williams made 10 of his 16 shot attempts and was ferocious on the offensive glass, securing five offensive rebounds while keeping several other loose balls alive. But as impressive as Williams was, defense of Arizona (7-1) may have taken the cake.

    The Wildcats’ ‘D,’ which UA head coach Lute Olson said didn’t “”make a lot of mistakes,”” stifled San Diego State (8-2) into 32.8 percent shooting from the field and a season-low 48 points. The Aztecs, who average 79.3 points per game, scored 25 points less than their previous low of 73 and managed to shoot just 5-of-25 on 3s.

    “”By far that was the best of the season,”” Shakur said of the defense. “”And what made it so big was we were playing on somebody else’s court.””

    In a game between two of the highest scoring offenses in the country, the total output fell dramatically short of expectations. Arizona scored its season low of 69 points, partly because Budinger scored a season-low five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

    The freshman forward scored the first basket of the game but missed his next two shots, both 3s, and then mishandled a backdoor pass from Shakur.

    “”He had a couple of shots early that were right there, and he missed, and right away you just see that starting to build,”” Olson said.

    It was more of the same for Budinger in the second half. He blocked the first shot of the second half but then missed a jumper and turned the ball over on the next possession.

    “”(I was) a little more nervous than other games, but it was pretty much the same once warmups started,”” Budinger said. “”I felt the energy from the crowd, booing us, but besides that it was all the same.””

    Budinger, who said he was happy to be able to spend Sunday at home with his family, was not happy with his performance.

    “”I had a poor game,”” he said. “”You could see it out there, I know I did. I could have been more aggressive, shots didn’t fall for me. I was happy that the rest of the teammates stepped up.””

    Guard Jawann McClellan and forward Ivan Radenovic each scored 10 points for Arizona, who shot 46.7 percent from the field.

    The Wildcats held a 38-22 halftime lead thanks to a 24-8 run to close the half after the Aztecs tied the game at 14. But San Diego State never led, only closing the gap to nine points with 6:47 left to play.

    Arizona countered with a 12-2 run to build the lead back up to 19 points. The Wildcats started the contest with a defensive game plan of going man-to-man on Arizona makes and with a 2-3 zone on misses.

    “”That was the plan at first,”” Radenovic said. “”Then we switched it up. They adjusted to our 2-3 zone, and we had to get through it, and we went man all the time.””

    Guard Brandon Heath led the Aztecs with 14 points, but he was the only San Diego State player to score in double figures. Florida transfer Mohamed Abukar and Louisville transfer Lorrenzo Wade combined to shoot 5-of-24 from the field.

    “”They fly at you,”” Aztec head coach Steve Fisher said of Arizona’s defenders. “”A good shot sometimes turns into a hurried shot.””

    For all of San Diego State’s struggles, Williams was glad to get rid of his own woeful performance Tuesday against Louisville.

    “”I felt like the Louisville game was a tough game for me, and I don’t have any problem with that as long as we win,”” the forward said. “”But I think the other games I’m going to need to be that type of guy, be the aggressor, rebound, play defense, and get some blocked shots, some steals just so I can get my team to set a tempo.””

    Williams attempted two 3s, making one, but 16 of his 21 points came inside the key.

    “”I think that’s something that’s going to help your jump shot,”” he said. “”If you go inside first, get yourself some confidence (then) outside you just feel that much better.””

    Williams was voted the game’s MVP and helped Arizona to 32 points in the paint. The Wildcats snapped San Diego State’s nine-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents.

    “”I think this team is better than Virginia, and beating them on the road by 21, that shows you how much better we’ve got,”” Radenovic said.

    And 1

    Kirk Walters saw his first action since playing two minutes against Virginia in the season-opener Nov. 12. The 6-foot-10 center suffered from mononucleosis as well as the aftereffects of a concussion earlier in the year.

    “”I’m feeling good,”” said Walters, who played one minute at the end of the first half. “”I’m feeling good physically, it’s just getting in shape.”” Walters said he ran two miles per day while the team was in New York for the Jimmy V Classic…

    A former San Diego State cheerleader and longtime fan who sported a No. 11 SDSU jersey and a beer belly that rivals Homer Simpson did several cartwheels and the splits during a timeout as part of his usual routine. Entertaining to say the least.…Guard J.P. Prince was not in attendance.

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