The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

88° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A ‘J’ away from victory

    LAWRENCE, Kan. – In a game few expected it to win, the Arizona men’s basketball team possessed the ball in a tie game in the closing seconds with a chance to pull off a major upset last night at No. 4 Kansas.

    With all 16,300 screaming fans in Allen Fieldhouse knowing the shot would go to forward Chase Budinger, the Wildcats (3-2) failed to carry out the designed play, leading to a missed jumper from forward Bret Brielmaier.

    “”He wouldn’t be my choice to take the last shot,”” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”I love him to death. We just didn’t execute the last play, and when you do that on the road against a very good team, it is not going to end well for you.””

    Although the Wildcats avoided a dagger when Kansas’ Brandon Rush’s heave from well past midcourt rolled around the rim a few times before coming out, the Jayhawks (5-0) ended up being too much for Arizona, running out to an eight-point lead in overtime before hanging on for a 76-72 victory.

    In their last possession in regulation, the Wildcats wanted to run a play that had freed up Budinger a number of times during his season-high 27-point evening.

    But guard Nic Wise held onto the ball while killing much of the shot clock and never swung it to guard Jerryd Bayless. Budinger tried to come to the ball, but at that point Kansas had the play defended, leading to Brielmaier’s miss.

    “”It’s unfortunate we didn’t get him the ball on that last play,”” O’Neill said. “”We knew what we wanted to do and what we wanted to have happen, and it didn’t happen unfortunately.””

    But the game still belonged to Budinger, who hit six 3-pointers and came up with a big shot nearly every time the Wildcats needed one. He hit a 3 in overtime to tie the game after the Jayhawks drew first blood with a three-point play.

    He combined with Bayless to score 46 of Arizona’s 72 points.

    “”I may have forced a couple shots I shouldn’t have taken,”” Budinger said, “”but most of the shots I took, they felt good, and they were good-looking shots.””

    O’Neill pointed to Arizona’s 25 turnovers as the reason it lost, expressing amazement that the game was so close despite Arizona’s sloppy ball-handling.

    Bayless led the turnover barrage with seven miscues, while Budinger contributed five and senior Jawann McClellan added four.

    “”It’s too many turnovers, unforced errors or trying to make plays you shouldn’t be trying to make,”” O’Neill said. “”I know a lot of it’s experience, a lot it’s first time for everything. We’re in virgin territory with a lot of young guys, but we don’t really have time to be virgins.””

    Kansas looked like the Jayhawk squad that has blown out opponents by an average of 31.3 points per game in running off a 13-0 run to take a 13-4 lead six minutes into the game.

    Kansas extended the lead to 20-9 with 11:39 left before the Wildcats’ 3-point shooting barrage, led by Budinger, brought Arizona back.

    “”Unfortunately, it’s something that every team’s been kind of doing to us at the beginning of (the) game,”” Budinger said. “”We’ve been just very careless with the ball at the beginning of games, kind of playing timid and scared, and it takes us about five, 10 minutes before we start warming up, and it’s been kind of killing us.””

    Center Kirk Walters started his first game of the season with the Wildcats needing some size to battle against KU’s 6-foot-11 Sasha Kaun, 6-foot-9 Darrell Arthur and 6-foot-8 Darnell Jackson.

    Kansas dominated Arizona in the paint, outscoring the Wildcats 46-18, but a rotation of Walters, Brielmaier and forwards Jordan Hill and Jamelle Horne helped the Wildcats out-rebound Kansas 38-29.

    Walters had played only 1:40 entering the game but was not surprised he was called on to start.

    “”I knew they were a bigger team, they were bigger down low,”” he said. “”I tried to use my size to help out and deny the ball down low, because that’s a big part of their offense.””

    The big men helped hold the nation’s third-best shooting team to 34.8 percent shooting in the second half. But when the Wildcats could not finish it down the stretch, that achievement did not make O’Neill feel any better.

    “”To me, there’s no moral victories. There’s nothing in this that feels good,”” he said. “”Playing hard doesn’t guarantee a win. We had a chance to win going down the stretch and didn’t finish it.””

    And 1

    Wise played a career-high 32 minutes to alleviate some of the ball-handling pressure on Bayless. Guard Daniel Dillon saw only two minutes after playing the entire 40 against Adams State, and guard Laval Lucas-Perry did not see the floor. … Hill played only three minutes in the first half after picking up a pair of fouls.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search