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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cats down Bears

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats basketball first half action against the Cal Golden Bears from Haas Pavilion on the Campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

BERKELEY, Calif. — The Arizona basketball team can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

The Wildcats went on a 36-12 run while hitting 13 of 14 shots at the end of the first half. Kyle Fogg nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:23 to play and Arizona handed Pac-12-leading California its first home loss of the season, 78-74 in Haas Pavilion on Thursday night.

The Wildcats had lost their last four games that were decided in the final minute.

“I told Fogg that we’re not losing again,” freshman guard Nick Johnson said.

Cal broke open a 13-point lead in the game’s first 9:17, thanks in part to Arizona’s 1-of-8 effort from the free throw line. But then Angelo Chol scored a layup off of a Jesse Perry missed free throw and the Wildcats went on their massive run to enter halftime with an 11-point lead.

Fogg sparked the run with 13 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and limited Cal guard Allen Crabbe to 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting on the night. Miller said Fogg’s defense was a big contributing factor in Arizona’s win.

The senior from Brea, Calif., used his 6-foot-9 wingspan to knock away a potential game-tying Crabbe 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play.

“I just was making sure I didn’t foul,” Fogg said. “I was able to get a finger on it and block the shot.”

Arizona got some more defensive heroics when Johnson blocked a Justin Cobbs layup attempt with 24 seconds to play. Johnson leaped from the baseline and swatted the layup away at what seemed like the last possible second.

“I really don’t care if they dunk on me or whatever,” said Johnson, who added that he and Cobbs used to be teammates on a youth team. “I’m going for it because I want my team to win … any way we can get a win right now is good.”

Johnson said Arizona spent most of its preparation on dealing with Cal’s offensive sets and that the Wildcats were able to do everything they wanted to throughout the game.

The freshman from Gilbert, Ariz., credited Miller’s philosophy of “honoring the process,” while Cal was knocking down shots, even though Arizona was well-prepared for everything it saw from Cal.

But Johnson, who scored 11 points, wasn’t the only freshman factor in Arizona’s win. Chol scored eight points, including a pair of highlight-reel dunks, blocked two shots and grabbed four rebounds in what head coach Sean Miller called his best game at Arizona.

“He was a big reason we won tonight,” Miller said. “It was inspiring to watch him play.”

Chol’s performance against Cal may have been his coming-out party. He took over the game for a two-minute stretch, and said that the coaching staff’s faith in him has helped him progress.

“The coaches are really patient with me … they trust me so I’ve got to believe in myself,” Chol said. “I’ve just got to keep doing my thing. I can’t get down on myself.”

California’s crowd of 9,690 was in a frenzy for nearly every second of the Wildcats win, but it reached a fever pitch when Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez got tangled up with Arizona assistant Joe Pasternack after going into the bench chasing a loose ball.

Officials reviewed the play — Miller said it was the 15th consecutive Arizona game that’s featured a video review — and there were no fouls or ejections.

“I was worried about (Pasternack), that they were going to eject him,” Miller said sarcastically. “God forbid if they would have ejected someone else on the other team.”

Mayes may miss rest of season

Sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes left the game midway through the second half and was sitting on the bench with a bag of ice on his left foot — the same foot that he had offseason surgery on to repair a stress fracture — after it was stepped on during the game.

Miller said that he’s not sure whether the foot is broken or not and that Mayes will undergo X-rays today.

“Given his history, we’re not optimistic,” Miller said.

The Los Angeles native scored six points in 13 minutes of action on Thursday.

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