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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Getting physical

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona mens basketball team hosted the Oklahoma Sooners in a college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.  The Wildcats stormed to an 83-60 win.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona men’s basketball team hosted the Oklahoma Sooners in a college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats stormed to an 83-60 win.

Balance, balance, balance.

Inside and outside of the paint, head coach Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats controlled the Oklahoma Sooners. Across the roster, Arizona only had two double-digit scorers, but also saw five players record eight or nine points.

The Wildcats (7-1) earned a firm victory on Sunday at McKale Center, beating the Big 12 Conference Sooners 83-60 while also giving the Pacific 10 Conference a much-needed win against a team from another of the big six conferences. And once again, it came behind a complete team effort.

“”We have a lot of diversity in our offense right now,”” Miller said. “”We’re not a jump-shooting team, but yet we shoot a good percentage from 3 (point range). We’re a team that can get to the foul line. We can score close to the basket, although we don’t have like the true low-post scorer.

“”We get offensive rebounds. We can strike you in transition,”” he continued. “”We’re getting contributions from a lot of players.””

Up to this point, only once has an Arizona Wildcat player seen action for 30 or more minutes in a game — Solomon Hill played 30 minutes against New Mexico State University. It’s a testament to Miller’s vision of sending waves of defenders at opponents.

Sophomore Derrick Williams led the Wildcats with 16 points, shooting only 4-for-6 from the field and scoring seven points from the free throw line. He was the focus of OU double teams and also was limited by four fouls.

The scoring was so balanced for the UA that the only other double-digit scorer was Hill with 10 points, five rebound and three assist performance.

But Williams’ presence also opened a 3-point barrage for the Wildcats, who finished shooting 11-for-16 from deep.

“”With D-Will in the middle and Mo getting those drives, you’ve got to choose one,”” Hill said. “”They’ve (opponents) got to pick their poison.””

The game got interesting when Oklahoma’s Nick Thompson clotheslined Williams on a dunk attempt after Williams stole a pass with 13:46 remaining in the first half, sending Williams to the floor. A brief altercation ensued and UA center Kyryl Natyazhko received a technical foul in the aftermath.

It was a play symbolizing the physicality of the game.

Leading the Sooners and battling Arizona’s Williams in the paint was Andrew Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-8, 231-pound rugged interior player. He scored 11 points in each half on 8-for-13 shooting from the field while playing all but two minutes.

“”Our defense wasn’t as good as it’s been, partly because Andrew Fitzgerald was really tough tonight,”” Miller said.

Despite the big man’s efforts, Arizona beat the Sooners with 32 points in the paint to OU’s 14. They also shut down the Sooners on the perimeter, with senior Cade Davis of Oklahoma finishing with only nine points.

The Wildcats built a 21-9 lead on Williams’ first field goal, an And 1 bucket and following free throw with 10 minutes to go in the half. The Wildcats would go into the halftime break with a 40-28 advantage thanks to smooth ball movement, which led to a 58 percent shooting clip.

Point guard Momo Jones came out aggressively in the second half, penetrating the lane for an assist to Hill and then a spinning layup four minutes into the period. He followed that up by driving and kicking out to Parrom for a 3-pointer and again blowing past defenders for another lay-up.

“”His pushes have purpose,”” Hill said. “”He’s really pushing to find people. It’s either he’s finding someone open on the wing, or he’s right at the rim.””

Jones was accountable for nine of the first 11 points of the second half.

But after he exited, the Wildcats kept the momentum going. Freshman Jordin Mayes found Brendon Lavender for a 2-point jumper on the fast break following a defensive stop, building the Wildcat lead to 56-38.

The largest Arizona lead of 23 came on a Hill 3-pointer off a Jones assist with 8:47 left in the game, then again before the final buzzer.

Looking forward, Miller said that the true test for his team is to play consistently well with a 10-man rotation over the course of not a few weeks, but a few months.

“”Everybody’s drinking the Kool-Aid,”” Miller said.

“”Can we be that same tough-minded defensive team that’s on the right track?””

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