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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Budinger pushes through UO taunts


    EUGENE, Ore. – The student section in “”The Pit”” is creative, if not motivational.

    One student held a sign during the Wildcats’ 87-77 win over the Ducks on Saturday that said “”Budinger is Mugatu,”” referring to Will Ferrell’s character in “”Zoolander,”” who wears a blonde goatee and two tufts of curly blonde hair on his head.

    Students also chanted “”You got stepped on,”” referring to Arizona’s game against Houston in which Houston guard Aubrey Coleman was ejected for stepping on Budinger’s face.

    If Budinger noticed the taunts, he didn’t mind. The forward scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down a team-high of nine rebounds.

    “”He’s got this fire to him,”” Jordan Hill said of Budinger. “”He loves the game of basketball. He wants to win, just like everybody.””

    The Houston game started the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak. Nic Wise said the incident with Coleman sparked the season’s turnaround for Arizona.

    “”It changed the way we played the last 10 minutes of that game, and we’ve played every single game (since then) just like those last 10 minutes,”” Wise said.

    Hill and interim head coach Russ Pennell said, however, that the Wildcats’ turnaround began at Southern California, when Arizona lost by a point. Pennell did agree that Coleman’s flagrant foul had something to do with the team’s resurgence.

    “”There was a fight in our team that started then, and we’ve continued with it,”” Pennell said.

    Second-half quack attack

    The Oregon Ducks have scored 713 first-half points and a combined 852 in second halves this season – but don’t let the numbers fool you. Oregon has struggled in the second half of most of its games this season.

    When the Ducks played the Wildcats in Tucson, Oregon went into halftime down 30-21. Coming out of the locker room, however, the Ducks scored just five points in the first seven minutes and went down 41-26.

    On Saturday the Ducks held within two points, three minutes into the second half, then went down by as many as 19 to the Wildcats.

    “”I think it’s a deal where they’ve just got to learn how to play for 40 minutes,”” interim head coach Russ Pennell said, “”and when they do they’re going to be really good.””

    The beginning of a new era

    Oregon’s President Dave Frohnmayer, athletics director Pat Kilkenny and Nike co-founder Phil Knight placed ceremonial shovels in the campus ground Saturday morning to mark the start of the construction of the Matthew Knight Arena, which is planned to replace McArthur Court in January 2011.

    The three were in attendance for the UO vs. UA game, and the Nike co-founder tossed a ceremonial first tip-off for UA forward Jordan Hill and Oregon’s point guard Tajuan Porter.

    The 6-foot-10-inch Hill let 5-foot-6-inch Porter win the tip.

    “”This is a landmark day for the University of Oregon,”” Frohnmayer said at halftime. “”It’s a memorable day.””

    The new arena, named after Phil and Penny Knight’s late son, is slated to hold about 3,000 more than Mac Court – which is in its 82nd year of use – with 12,500 seats.

    The Knight family donated $100 million for the new arena, and the total cost of construction is said to be more than $200 million. The Kilkenny family donated $5 million and will have the court named after the family.

    Kilkenny joked at halftime that Phil Knight gave him $50 so he wouldn’t have to speak to the crowd, but Knight received a standing ovation anyway.

    “”Every time I go there, I go up to the top tier, and it amazes me that someone would buy a seat where they can’t even see the floor,”” UA interim coachRuss Pennell said of Mac Court. “”It’s such a unique place and they have so much pride in it.

    “”Literally, it is a pit and they’re there yelling right on top of you,”” Pennell added.

    Stealing the show

    As the Wildcats walked out of the visitor’s locker room in Mac Court, Nic Wise asked a reporter to look at the box score from the game.

    “”Dang, I only got two steals,”” said Wise, who now has 29 total steals this season.

    Chase Budinger looked over Wise’s shoulder and beamed. Budinger had three steals, giving him 31 on the season, enough to give him an edge in his season-long competition with Wise to see who can collect more swipes.

    “”Yes, I’m up by two now,”” Budinger said.

    Good luck scruff?

    The Arizona coaches looked a bit scruffy on the sidelines this weekend. Head coach Russ Pennell said they left their razors at home.

    But is that the real reason for their incipient beards?

    “”It’s something we’re not talking about. I could tell you,”” Pennell said smiling, “”But I’d have to kill you.””

    When Nic Wise was asked about it, he said he hadn’t noticed it, and Pennell joked he is becoming a lumberjack because the team was in the Northwest.

    With Arizona on a five-game winning streak, one might think the coaches are doing what reserve guard David Bagga did late last year – going without shaving until the win streak is over.

    But Pennell said he’s not superstitious at all.

    “”I hit black cats with ladders after I walk under them,”” he said.

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