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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Basketball: Wildcats torch USC

A thickly-wrapped pinky finger didn’t stop Arizona forward Derrick Williams from leading the Wildcats in scoring Saturday. Apparently, neither did foul trouble that UA head coach Sean Miller said was more influential in playing the sophomore only 18 minutes.

“”He’s like Shaq. I guess he fouls every play,”” Miller said sarcastically. “”The officials did an incredible job calling fouls.””

The Wildcats (18-4, 7-2 Pacific 10 Conference) beat up the Trojans (12-10, 4-5 Pac-10) 82-73 Saturday in McKale Center, building a lead by as many as 20 points and taking advantage of a small USC backcourt.

Arizona’s Momo Jones and Kyle Fogg combined for 25 points and an 8-to-3 assist to turnover ratio against the 5-foot-7 Maurice Jones and 6-foot Jio Fontan.

“”I think those guys are good,”” said USC head coach Kevin O’Neill of the Wildcat guards. “”They’re athletic, they’re big. We’re a bit small on the guard side.””

Meanwhile, Williams was stymied — in a sense — by a protecting wrap on his shooting hand, but managed 20 points on 6-for-6 shooting, three shots of which came from the 3-point line.

“”That’s Derrick,”” center Alex Jacobson said, not surprised.

When it was said and done, Arizona out-shot the Trojans with a 61 percent to 47 percent clip.

The game tied at 7-7 early on, Fogg hit two straight jumpers, Williams scored with his left hand in the lane, and Fogg drove and kicked to freshman Jordin Mayes for a corner-pocket 3-pointer as Arizona went on a 9-0 run a third of the way through the first half.

Fogg came out aggressively in many facets, scoring eight but also grabbing three rebounds and passing for six assists.

The Trojans got within two points a number of times, but Arizona’s starting backcourt was aggressive and scored 14 of the first 22 points for the Wildcats, keeping them ahead.

“”We thought he was going to be a little bit slow because his hand was messed up,”” Fogg said of Williams. “”Mentality-wise, a couple of guys had to step up.””

When USC brought the UA lead to just 20-18, Arizona ran off 10 straight points that ended with forward Jamelle Horne scoring on an And 1 drive to the basket right after the timeout, pointing at his former head coach, O’Neill, as he gave Arizona a 30-18 lead.

Arizona held a 40-31 advantage at halftime, led by 10 points from Jones. He finished the game with 17 points for the second game in a row.

Williams saw limited action in the first half, playing only eight minutes and scoring three points.

The Wildcats opened a 15-point, 48-33 lead two minutes into the second half. Williams hit a 3-pointer from the wing followed by forward Solomon Hill finding Mayes in the left corner for another bomb.

Mayes played early in the half after Jones left the game with an apparent bruise to the hip. He went into the tunnel and sat on the bench with an ice bag on his hip before returning, and Miller said he wasn’t sure the exact nature of the injury.

With 12:12 to play, Miller was called for a technical foul, arguing with officials following a charge call on Williams, his fourth foul of the game.

“”The officials don’t win or lose game,”” Miller said. “”But sometimes as a coach you really have to protect our player. He personally has a lot at stake. Part of it as a coach, you’ve got to make sure you represent what you see as happening.””

A close bucket by Jacobson with just more than 11 minutes to play gave Arizona a 61-44 lead. And a game after the Wildcats struggled to put away UCLA in the closing minutes, Miller saw the same trend of his team Saturday.

Williams’ third 3-pointer gave UA a 82-62 lead, its largest, with 2:11 to play, but USC ran off 11 straight points before the final buzzer rang.

“”It takes a lot to give a team a 10-0 run,”” Miller said. “”We’re going to fight through that and address it and hope that we don’t learn the lesson with a loss.””

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