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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Players give credit to, feed off each other”

    Arizona forward Jamelle Horne, center, competes with guard Richie Williams, left, for a loose ball in a 69-56 win over San Diego State in McKale Center on Wednesday night. Though the Wildcats played sloppy at times, their team unity is what enabled them to pull off the win.
    Arizona forward Jamelle Horne, center, competes with guard Richie Williams, left, for a loose ball in a 69-56 win over San Diego State in McKale Center on Wednesday night. Though the Wildcats played sloppy at times, their team unity is what enabled them to pull off the win.

    Game Analysis

    The tone of the game was set at halftime. It wasn’t reflected by what the scoreboard read: San Diego State 26, Arizona 21; but rather, the tone was shown through a song shown on the video board in McKale Center.

    Dressed in their red jerseys and Santa caps with a winter wonderland backdrop, the Wildcat players sang “”Jingle Bell Rock.””

    The montage featured off-notes, botched lyrics and plenty of smiles. And if you tried to point at the best singer in the bunch, it’d be nearly impossible. There wasn’t one person everyone else fed off of. It was simply a team effort – very sloppy at times, but they got the job done.

    It’s the same way on the court.

    The Wildcats began the first half of Wednesday’s 69-56 win over SDSU in a similar fashion to many other games they’ve played in this season. The game’s first 20 minutes featured great hustle, a decent lead and then a brief collapse.

    At times it seemed as if the basketball had butter on it. Chase Budinger shot two uncharacteristic air balls in the game, players dribbled the ball like their wrists were handcuffed and easy layups rolled around the rim and fell out.

    Then the second half came.

    Budinger’s 3-for-10 first-half shooting performance was met with a 3-for-5 second-half outing. Jordan Hill scored 18 and pulled down seven rebounds, and Jamelle Horne scored all eight of his points and stole two balls in the second half.

    Nic Wise scored 8 of his 13 and Kyle Fogg posted 7 of his career-high 9 points in the second half.

    And if you ask interim head coach Russ Pennell which player everyone else feeds off of, he won’t give you a name.

    “”I think it has to be a group,”” Pennell said. “”This is an interesting group of guys. They’re some of the nicest guys I’ve ever been around in my life. As a coach, I’ve been around some teams where you kind of dread going to practice to see that one guy. We don’t have that one guy.””

    With 11:17 left in the game, Fogg decided he was going to be a leader. He leaped for a layup and was fouled in the process of making the basket. He threw his hands together in celebration, exuding the most confidence he’s shown all season.

    And still, he won’t take credit.

    “”It has a lot to do with my teammates,”” Fogg said. “”They just told me to get after it, and the coach told me to be more aggressive in the second half, so I tried to go and do that and help the team. Just Mellow (Horne), and a lot from J. Hill, too, just telling me to keep going, get out there defensively, and that I’m good enough to play at this level.””

    Hill decided he was going to be a leader with 7:45 remaining when he hit a 17-footer from the top of the key, left his right hand hanging and began backpedaling as if he was a long-distance shooter by nature.

    Horne decided he was going to be a leader down the stretch, playing with more intensity than anyone. But he’ll tell you otherwise.

    “”To be completely honest with you, I don’t think it was me,”” he said. “”I think it was this guy (Fogg). In the front of that press, it was Wise, it was Bud, and it was this guy (Hill) finishing on offense and defense.””

    Horne even tried to track down senior walk-on David Bagga, who didn’t even play, to bring him into room 109C to speak to the press.

    These players are modest. The goal is to get their teammates to shine.

    “”I like them all, and they’re fun to be around,”” Pennell said of his players. “”They about have to take a vote to see who’s going to be the leader that day. It’s something we’re going to have to continue to work with, but I’m starting to believe, just let them all lead.””

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