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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

NAU no match for wildcats

Gordon+Bates+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0AUniversity+of+Arizona+Mens+Basketball+versus+Northern+Arizona+University+at+McKale+Center+in+Tucson+Arizona+on+Saturday+December+3+2011.
Zachary Vito / Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona Mens Basketball versus Northern Arizona University at McKale Center in Tucson Arizona on Saturday December 3 2011.

Arizona basketball is still working with a new starting lineup and has played in three different venues in its last four games, but one thing remained the same in Saturday’s 53-39 win against NAU: The Wildcats stumbled out of the starting gate.

NAU jumped out to a 14-7 lead and didn’t trail until more than 14 minutes had ticked off the clock. But this time, Arizona (6-2) was able to pinpoint why it got off to a slow start.

The Lumberjacks (2-6) often didn’t run an offensive set until 20 seconds had run off the shot clock and, defensively, spent most of the game in a 2-3 zone.

“It’s a hard game to evaluate because NAU held the ball for 40 minutes,” head coach Sean Miller said. “It was a valuable teaching lesson for us.”

Arizona missed its first five shot attempts, then, after freshman guard Josiah Turner knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing, didn’t hit another field goal in the game’s first eight minutes.

The Wildcats were getting good looks, but Miller alluded that the team may have started slow because players can put too much pressure on each possession when playing a team that tries to slow the game out as much as possible.

“Their zone made us think a little bit, and once we got used to it we started knocking down our shots,” freshman guard Nick Johnson said. “Also it’s tough with them. They liked to hold the ball, and we were playing 35 seconds of defense every time. We just had to get used to that.”

But despite its struggles, Arizona never trailed by more than seven. Then with under six minutes to play in the opening half, junior forward Solomon Hill grabbed an offensive rebound and scored during a put-back on consecutive possessions — the first of which tied the game at 16 and the second gave Arizona a two-point lead.

Hill led Arizona with 15 points and seven rebounds, making Saturday’s game his sixth consecutive contest with a solid performance.

“He’s the engine to our team,” senior guard Kyle Fogg said. “It can be points, anything. If you look across the stat line, he’s filling it up.”

Arizona’s second half was the polar opposite of the first, and Fogg, who finished the game with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, was a big reason why. He hit three straight 3-pointers from nearly the same spot on the floor after missing all four of his attempts in the first half, ballooning Arizona’s lead up to 14.

“As long as we kept taking good shots, open shots, eventually they would fall,” Fogg said. “The most important thing is that we were playing hard even though we got out to a slow start.”

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