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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona’s strength key to win streak

Arizona freshman forward Solomon Hill gets after it on defense during Saturday?s 86-84 victory against the USC Trojans in McKale Center. Player?s like Hill and Alex Jacobson have helped the resilient Wildcats to a three-game winning streak.

After taking a 24-point pounding at California just 11 days ago, the Arizona basketball team could have easily given up on the season. Instead, a resilient Wildcat team heads into the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament on a three-game win streak.

Arizona now has its second-longest winning streak of the season, coming back from a double-digit deficit in each of the last three games.

“”We have momentum on our side. Every team wants to enter their conference tournament feeling good,”” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller after Saturday’s win against the USC Trojans. “”All three games have come down to the final shot or final plays. We’ve been resilient, and we won all three.””

Arizona (16-14, 10-8 Pac-10) finished the regular season where it was picked to finish in the preseason: fourth place in the Pac-10, right around where Miller hoped his team would be.

“”I don’t want to say we’ve overachieved, but looking at how we started out, I think we’ve come in where everyone would have hoped under the circumstances,”” Miller said. “”Hopefully, our best basketball is yet to come.””

Before the current three-game win streak, the Wildcats looked dead in the water, losing five of six games to start the second half of the Pac-10 schedule. Since then, the Wildcats have turned it around with a total team effort.

“”We’ve made some progress. We’re more tough-minded and more of a team now,”” Miller said. “”Some of these games have really represented that fight.

In Sunday’s double overtime win against USC, all five starters scored in double figures for the second time all season — the last coming on Dec. 9, 2009, against Louisiana Tech. Whether it was forward Solomon Hill’s defense on USC point guard Mike Gerrity or center Alex Jacobson’s energy-filled minutes off the bench, the Wildcats had help from a variety of different players.

Hill filled a defensive void that had been left by the absence of forward Kevin Parrom, who is out with a left foot injury and is the team’s best defender.

“”He did a good job. I thought that was as well as Solomon (Hill) has moved his feet,”” Miller said. “”Early, he was aggressive and made some key plays on offense for us also.””

Jacobson, who only played 10 minutes, brought energy off the bench on a couple plays, giving the Wildcats extra possessions with his offensive rebounding and giving the Wildcats a big body inside against USC big man Alex Stepheson. His play also gave forward Derrick Williams a breather.

“”Alex (Jacobson) played a big role in us winning. We didn’t have that energy, and we didn’t have that physical play around the basket. I sensed that Derrick (Williams) was wearing down,”” Miller said. “”His 10 minutes really provided a big spark for us.””

The current three-game winning streak is how the Wildcats had hoped to finish the season after an embarrassing game at California.

“”We wanted to win three games going into the Pac-10 tournament,”” said senior Nic Wise. “”We wanted to get our momentum up and our confidence going, and we talked about being that team no one wants to play come Pac-10 Tournament. We have our confidence up now so we’re ready to go.””

With all the talk being about the end of the season and how Wise will go out as the lone senior on the team, the Wildcats feel that is a little premature.

“”You guys keep saying going out, but to me this is the beginning,”” said forward Jamelle Horne in response to the media talking about the end of the season. “”This is when the season really starts for us.””

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