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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Not UCLA’s showtime

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Leading his Arizona team with an efficient scoring aptitude and a smile fitting of his cool Southern California nature, it was business as usual for forward Derrick Williams.

But on a night where the Arizona men’s basketball team debuted fresh uniforms and Williams donned Wiz Khalifa-inspired black and yellow shoes, his 22-point performance was probably the most aesthetically pleasing of his young career.

“”He’s a finisher, he’s talented, he’s athletic,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller. “”He’s one of the best players in the country. He’s earned that right to be called that.””

Behind Williams’ four monstrous dunks and slick 3-point shooting, the Wildcats strong-armed the UCLA Bruins 85-74 in McKale Center on Thursday, gaining sole possession of second place in the Pacific 10 Conference.

With 14:23 in the first half, Williams, who shot 7-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from 3-point range, beat 305-pound center Joshua Smith down the floor for a one-handed lob from forward Kevin Parrom. Williams fully extended his right arm behind his body to corral the wild pass before slamming it down, giving to Arizona an 11-8 lead.

To break a 13-13 tie, Arizona (17-4, 6-2 Pac-10) ran off a 7-0 spurt, and UA guard Momo Jones’ 3-pointer forced UCLA (13-7, 5-3 Pac-10) to call a timeout with 9:42 to go as UA led 20-13.

Momo Jones has struggled with consistency this season, but on Thursday his naturally aggressive and sometimes overly aggressive self finished with 17 points and three assists to go along with three steals and two turnovers.

Backup point guard Jordin Mayes also had his way with UCLA, scoring eight points in 12 minutes.

“”We played with a lot of poise and we trusted our teammates,”” Jones said of himself and Mayes. “”We played like ourselves, and we played with a sense of urgency.””

Jones’ backcourt mate, junior Kyle Fogg, had his second-highest scoring game of the season, scoring 14 points and, along with Williams, led UA with five rebounds.

“”I think tonight a lot of people came out not thinking,”” Jones said of the shooting disparity. “”Just with the mentality of: ‘We want to win.’ When you come out with that mentality and you play hard … there’s going to be a game, there’s going to be a point in the season where you shoot like that.””

Arizona’s last possession in the first half ended in a tomahawk dunk by Williams off a Fogg pass, and UA had a 38-33 halftime lead. Williams added another 3-pointer right out of the locker room, and forward Jesse Perry picked up a loose ball, taking it the length of the floor for a lay-in that gave Arizona its first double-digit lead just 47 seconds into the second stanza.

After taking a 47-39 lead, officials called UCLA point guard Lazeric Jones for a technical foul after he gave a slight elbow to Fogg’s face following a hard foul on Fogg’s drive toward the basket.

Fogg hit four free throws — two for a technical and two for the shooting foul — to help Arizona pull away in one of the game’s defining moments.

“”I felt like we were ready to have a run anyway,”” Fogg said. “”But I feel like that was a big part of the game.

“”It definitely felt like a big game,”” he added. “”We knew what we had to do.””

Williams fourth throw-down of the game gave Williams Arizona a 60-44 lead with 14:21 to play as it quickly got out of hand for the Bruins. Their largest deficit came with 10:59 in the game, down 64-46.

But after UCLA guard Jerime Anderson hit a 3-pointer to cut Arizona’s lead to 69-61, Parrom and guard Brendon Lavender both scored in the paint to keep UCLA at bay, the score 73-61 with 5:41 remaining.

“”Our team has a lot of growing up to do maturity-wise,”” Miller said, citing bad fouls and quick shots down the stretch as reasons for concern. “”All those things are going to set us up for a big fat loss.

“”We have to be more responsible and together.””

 

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