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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Forgotten first half

Prior to Sunday, the Arizona Wildcats didn’t own one signature win.

A win over then-No. 22 Washington on Jan. 10, 2010, was the only time head coach Sean Miller’s team has toppled a top-25 squad.

But after defeating the No. 4 seed Texas Longhorns to advance to the Sweet 16, the Wildcats can claim their first legitimate milestone victory. Miller said the first half of the 70-69 nail-biter was undoubtedly one of the best defensive halves of the season and against an elite Texas team, no less.

“”It gave us a chance,”” Miller said. “”The days of advancing on just good offense has ended. It’s a matter of being able to do both.””

When it comes down to it, forward Derrick Williams’ struggling offense didn’t matter. In fact, he went with the game plan and skillfully executed a first half defense that helped put the Longhorns in a bind they couldn’t unwind.

That game plan all hinged on shutting down Texas’ young gun.

Freshman forward Tristan Thompson was supposedly the real deal.

Ranked No. 22 on DraftExpress.com’s 2011 mock draft, he’s a bully around the basket and a long, athletic defender to boot.

It looked like he’d get going early, scoring on a dunk on Texas’ first offensive play. After that, he didn’t hit a shot, going 0-for-3 for the rest of the game with Williams and his defenses draped on the freshman.

“”We had a game plan that, to me, I thought was solid,”” Miller said. “”We wanted to trap Tristan Thompson.””

Even with Williams picking up his third foul in the first half, center Kyryl Natyazhko came off the bench and found success against the lanky freshman. Natyazhko’s 275-pound frame disrupted Thompson, forcing him into his two turnovers.

“”No easy catches, no easy buckets,”” Natyazhko said of the game plan. “”I mean, I’m not a small guy. Just be physical with him without fouling.””

Williams’ déjà vu

Before the game against the Longhorns, Williams was asked about how difficult it is to play against teams that don’t run a zone defense and have size in the frontcourt.

Against the then-No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks, Williams noted, he helped tack four fouls on twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, plus three more on forward Thomas Robinson.

On Sunday, against the Texas frontline of Thompson, small forward Jordan Hamilton and Williams’ main defender, Gary Johnson, Williams drew four fouls apiece.

Parrom’s injury

Reserve forward Kevin Parrom saw less court time than expected against Texas, playing only 15 minutes after spraining his ankle on Sunday.

Parrom said he tweaked it while coming down on a Texas player’s foot. Though he was limited, he said he expects to be fine for Thursday’s game against Duke.

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