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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

COMIC: Rat’s Nest #3
Olivia MoreyFebruary 28, 2024
 

    ‘Cats claw back vs. Texas A&M;

    Wildcat forwards Jordan Hill, right, and Bret Brielmaier go up for a rebound against three Aggies during the first half of Arizonas 78-67 win against Texas A&M last night in McKale Center. Arizona came back to win after finding itself in a 20-point hole early in the game.
    Wildcat forwards Jordan Hill, right, and Bret Brielmaier go up for a rebound against three Aggies during the first half of Arizona’s 78-67 win against Texas A&M last night in McKale Center. Arizona came back to win after finding itself in a 20-point hole early in the game.

    After falling down by as many as 20 points in the first half, the Arizona men’s basketball team launched a memorable comeback to upset No. 9 Texas A&M 78-67 before a deafening crowd of 14,598 in McKale Center yesterday.

    The Wildcats rode the coattails of freshman guard Jerryd Bayless, who scored a season-high 26 points and dished out six assists.

    Forward Chase Budinger had 19 points, and forward Jordan Hill chipped in with 13 off the bench.

    The Wildcats (5-2) shot 51.1 percent and held the Aggies (7-1) to 46.3 percent.

    “”We needed a quality win, and this was it,”” said guard Jawann McClellan, who had seven points. “”The RPI, they don’t care if you were close with all the top-10 teams. A loss is a loss and we didn’t need another one.””

    The Aggies went up 32-12 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half before the Wildcats cut the score to 40-28 going into halftime, thanks in part to Bayless, who scored 11 of his 14 first-half points in the final seven minutes.

    The Wildcats’ drive continued in the second half, as they went on a 12-5 run, with eight points coming from Bayless, who leads the team with 19.9 points per game.

    “”About seven minutes into the game, I was like, ‘Jerryd, you have to get more aggressive,’ “” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”He kind of got us on his shoulders and really carried us. Jerryd’s gotten better every game and you can see his confidence developing.””

    With 5:54 remaining, McClellan hit a trey from the left side to give the Wildcats a 62-60 lead, the first advantage for Arizona since the opening minute of the game. Arizona never looked back.

    “”I concentrate on stopping their best player so much that sometimes I don’t look for my own shot,”” McClellan said. “”But I came off the pick-and-roll and it was wide open. I really didn’t know what the score of the game was when I shot it but I knew it was a big 3. All of them were big 3s.””

    After the shot McClellan ran down the court, grabbed one of his three rebounds and dished it out to guard Nic Wise, who was still playing with a sleeve on his right arm to keep the swelling down from a popped bursar sac above his elbow. Wise scored on a layup, drawing a foul to send him to the line.

    The Wildcats shot 13 free throws in the last 5:19, sinking 10. They were 23-for-29 at the line overall.

    “”When you’re playing a great team like Texas A&M, you better make your free throws,”” O’Neill said. “”If you don’t, you’re going to give them a chance and give them life.””

    The Aggies started the game on a hot streak, shooting 60 percent (15-of-25) from the floor in the first half, while holding the Wildcats to 44 percent (11-of-25). Eight of nine Aggies scored at least three points in the half, with forward Joseph Jones leading with eight.

    The Wildcats went up 5-2 two minutes into the game, but A&M kept the hosts from scoring for nearly six minutes, going up 15-5 on a Bryan Davis layup.

    Arizona, however, is still looking for consistency throughout an entire game.

    “”We showed what we’ve been working on since (school started on) August 20th and that’s defense,”” McClellan said. “”We’ve just got to put a full 40-minute game together.””

    And 1

    Hill did not start for the first time this season because he was late to a team meeting Saturday night, O’Neill said. He still played 32 minutes. … During halftime, UA football player Antoine Cason and former Wildcat quarterback Matt Brooks presented $5,000 to the American Cancer Society on behalf of the “”Cason Cares”” fundraiser.

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