The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

100° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Loss to WSU only blemish over break

    Senior point guard Mustafa Shakur, right, and Washington State guard Kyle Weaver battle for a loose ball in Arizonas 77-73 loss to the Cougars on Saturday. WSU snapped the Wildcats 12-game winning streak and beat Arizona in Pullman for the first time in 21 years.
    Senior point guard Mustafa Shakur, right, and Washington State guard Kyle Weaver battle for a loose ball in Arizona’s 77-73 loss to the Cougars on Saturday. WSU snapped the Wildcats’ 12-game winning streak and beat Arizona in Pullman for the first time in 21 years.

    The No. 10 Arizona men’s basketball team had a busy winter building its postseason resume, and despite a slip up Saturday at Washington State, the Wildcats did little to hurt their chances of an eventual No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    “”We won all our games (except Saturday’s), and we beat good teams like Memphis,”” forward Ivan Radenovic said. “”When we had the chance to be the No. 1 team in the Pac-10, we lost the game.””

    After a 6-1 winter break and with the first two weeks of the Pacific 10 Conference season complete, the Wildcats (12-2, 3-1) sit in a first-place tie with No. 4 UCLA, No. 22 Washington State and USC. Oregon and California nip at their heals with a 2-1 conference mark, and 1-3 Washington is still considered a tough team.

    In what could portend an unpredictable conference season, the conference favorite and then-leading Wildcats and Bruins both lost Saturday in tough road venues in what ranks as the top conference by its RPI.

    “”Any team can beat any team in the Pac-10 right now,”” forward Chase Budinger said. “”There’s eight strong teams in here, and every game’s going to be tough. Every game we’ve just got to come out and battle.””

    The Wildcats got that battle this weekend in gaining a split of the Washington schools. Although the Washington trip is a sweep waiting to happen to many squads this year, salvaging one game did not get point guard Mustafa Shakur excited.

    “”I want to win every game,”” he said. “”I’m not happy with a split.””

    Winter break results
    Dec. 9 at San Diego State, W 69-48
    Dec. 17 vs. Houston, W 87-62
    Dec. 20 vs. No. 18 Memphis, W 79-71
    Dec. 28 vs. California, W 94-85
    Dec. 30 vs. Stanford, W 89-75
    Thursday at No. 24 Washington, W 96-87
    Saturday at Washington State, L 73-77, OT

    After defeating the Huskies in a high-scoring affair in which Arizona shot over 65 percent, including 76.2 percent in the second half, Washington State’s slow-down style and tough defense held the Wildcats to 39.4 percent shooting, and forward Daven Hamerling scored 28 points to down Arizona.

    “”It was tough because those were two totally different games we had to play,”” Budinger said. “”The Washington game took a lot out of us energywise, and Washington State is very fundamentally sound, and they played defense on us, they played tight defense. It’s a tough transition of playing from a fast pace to a slow pace.””

    The Wildcats trailed for a good portion of the game against the Cougars and were behind by seven with 46 seconds left. Then a furious UA rally led to a quick 8-1 run with a combination of efficient offense and three WSU missed free throws mixed in, capped by a 3-pointer by Radenovic off a Shakur dish to tie things up.

    “”I take a lot of pride in that,”” Shakur said. “”We still had opportunities to win at the end.””

    After Shakur drew a charge Arizona had a chance to win in regulation, but Radenovic couldn’t knock down a well-defended jumper and the Wildcats fell after getting off to a slow start in overtime.

    The seniors, Radenovic and Shakur, led the rally, with Radenovic going for 17 points and eight rebounds while Shakur had 19 points, eight rebounds and assists, and forward Marcus Williams chipped in 18 points and nine boards.

    “”The veterans gave us a chance to win in the end,”” Budinger said.

    Against the Huskies, Budinger led Arizona with 23 points, and guard Jawann McClellan hit for 22, including six 3-pointers.

    In the first half, the Wildcats answered a 22-4 UW run with a 15-0 run of their own to retake the lead. Then Arizona won it with defense, holding Washington scoreless for more than four minutes at the end of the contest before a meaningless free throw in the final seconds.

    The Wildcats started Pac-10 play with a home sweep of Stanford Dec. 30 and California Dec. 28.

    Behind seven-foot twins Brook and Robin Lopez, the Cardinal outrebounded Arizona 36-27, including 21-7 on the offensive glass. In fact, the Lopez twins and forward Taj Finger combined to grab more offensive rebounds than any UA opponent except Louisville, more than doubling Arizona’s total.

    Olson said the Wildcats were hurt by Stanford sending one of the big men to the weakside glass, which led to many of these opportunities, a problem he foresaw entering the contest.

    But there weren’t many offensive rebounding opportunities for Arizona, as the squad shot 61.2 percent from the field and ripped off an 11-0 run after trailing by five in the middle of the half to lead to the 89-75 victory.

    “”This was a big win for us,”” Radenovic said after the game.

    You wouldn’t have known the Wildcats beat the Golden Bears by how Olson talked at his post-game press conference after that game. Nobody on the squad was happy about the way the reserves let a 24-point lead with 3:30 to play turn into a 94-85 final victory margin.

    Olson called it a “”horror show”” and made those reserves in the game at the end watch film of the ending with an assistant coach the next day “”to see if they could stomach it like we couldn’t on the bench.””

    After getting off to a sluggish start and trailing 24-20 with just over nine minutes left in the first half, the Wildcats outscored the Golden Bears by 33 over the next 17 minutes of game time to take a 74-45 lead, starting with a 12-0 run. In all, the starters shot 71 percent from the floor, and the Wildcats shot a combined 60 percent for the game.

    But afterward, the story was the blown lead.

    “”It’s a little upsetting because we wanted to make a statement coming into this game … to the other Pac-10 schools,”” Budinger said. “”It’s a little upsetting and disappointing, but it’s a good learning experience.””

    The Wildcats got a marquee nonconference victory Dec. 20 when they beat then-No. 18 Memphis 79-71.

    After shooting just 38 percent in the first half, the Wildcats jumped out to a 22-8 run to start the second half that led to the win. Shakur won the Fiesta Bowl Classic’s MVP trophy by scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds and five assists.

    In the game against Houston Dec. 17, the Cougars’ attempts to run with the Wildcats failed in a 87-62 UA rout.

    Arizona held Houston to nearly 30 points below its season average and to the squad’s lowest field goal percentage of the season.

    The Wildcats broke the game open with a 16-7 run after halftime to go up 17 and win going away.

    In the first game of the break Dec. 9 at San Diego State, the Wildcats got a quality road win, 69-48. Williams dominated after a poor outing in his previous contest against Louisville, while Budinger had his worst game of the season in his homecoming to San Diego.

    Williams went for 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while Budinger scored a season-low five points.

    The game was won on the defensive end, as the Wildcats held the Aztecs to a season-low 32.8 percent shooting, including 20 percent on 3s, and 25 points below their then-season low.

    With a mix of teams that play different styles in different environments, Olson said after the Memphis game that he thinks the nonconference schedule will pay off for the Wildcats.

    “”This is not a team that’s going to plateau, I don’t think,”” he said. “”This is a team that will keep getting better because they play hard, they practice hard and they really enjoy playing together.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search