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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Streaky 3-point shooting ignites ‘Cats

    Arizona forward Chase Budinger lines up a 3-pointer during the Wildcats 106-97 win against No. 23 Washington Thursday night in McKale Center. Budinger hit three 3s in the game including some crucial makes in the second half to help Arizona fight off the Huskies comeback bid.
    Arizona forward Chase Budinger lines up a 3-pointer during the Wildcats’ 106-97 win against No. 23 Washington Thursday night in McKale Center. Budinger hit three 3’s in the game including some crucial makes in the second half to help Arizona fight off the Huskies’ comeback bid.


    While some teams can live and die by the 3-pointer, the Arizona men’s basketball team reached cloud nine with a hot hand from beyond the arc Thursday night.

    So hot, that 3-pointers withstood the absence of Jordan Hill, giving the Wildcats a 106-97 upset win over conference-leading No. 23 Washington in McKale Center.

    “”They’re the first place team in the Pac-10, we’re pretty far down and this is a huge win for us,”” UA forward Chase Budinger said. “”It shows that we can play with anyone in the Pac-10.””

    With 14:40 reaming, Hill’s fourth foul sent his 14-point effort to the bench.

    Then, on cue came a 3-point barrage that eventually gave the Wildcats (13-8, 3-5 Pacific 10 Conference) enough momentum to weather the Huskies’ persistent offensive storm through the rest of the second half.

    “”When our guys go out, you really don’t have time to think about that, to be honest,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell. “”You just try to figure out the right people to put in, and tonight the right people went in.””

    Pennell took out Hill and subbed in forward Fendi Onobun who contributed with a solid defensive effort in his 13 minutes of playing time.

    Washington switched to playing a zone defense after Hill sat down, then the 3-point attack began with UA point guard Nic Wise, who drained a 3 to put the Wildcats up 59-53.

    On the ensuing possession, UA forward Chase Budinger made back-to-back 3s, forcing Washington to burn a full timeout with 12:50 remaining.

    The shot to put Arizona up 62-53 ignited a raucous McKale Center and a crowd of 14,434 that stayed loud the entire game.

    “”We’ve got good shooters,”” Pennell said. “”If we’re open from behind the line, we want those guys to feel free and comfortable to shoot it.””

    UW coach Lorenzo Romar added: “”That was the pivotal part of the game when Hill got that foul that sent him to the bench. You would hope we would hit a point where we would take control and they were actually the ones that responded.””

    After executing on defensive stops and rebounds, Jamelle Horne’s 3-pointer gave Arizona a 16-point lead with 10:28 remaining, capping off a 14-4 run for the Wildcats.

    It didn’t come down to the final 52 seconds this time, unlike Saturday’s sudden burst of 10 points, but the Wildcats’ quick surge built a large enough cushion to pull out the victory over a ranked opponent – their second on the season.

    Up by as many as 16 points, Budinger felt no comfort in Arizona’s lead, in light of Saturday’s improbable comeback the Wildcats completed over Houston.

    The captain wouldn’t let what he called a ‘déja vú flip-flop’ occur after the Wildcats saw their double-digit lead quickly dwindle down the stretch.

    “”The game’s never over until the 0:00 mark. We proved that against Houston, that it’s never over,”” Budinger said. “”I had that in the back of my mind and just didn’t want that to happen to us.””

    Added Romar: “”We haven’t had a game like this in a long time. Give Arizona credit. They came out fighting and we dug ourselves a hole so deep that we couldn’t get out.””

    Zane Johnson’s originally ill-advised shot capped off the night with a 3-pointer to put Arizona up 94-88 with 1:41 remaining. Instead of running down the shot clock, Johnson prematurely launched it from the corner in a one-possession game.

    As Johnson shot the ball, Budinger admitted that he disapproved Johnson’s shot selection.

    Then it went in.

    “”When he locked and loaded for that shot I almost had a heart attack,”” Budinger. “”Then, it hit the bottom of the net, and I think that really changed things for us. They were cutting it from 8, 6, 5, and Zane just stepped up and made a huge shot for us.””

    Collectively, Arizona shot 7-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half with 6 coming from Budinger and Wise.

    Budinger and UA forward Kyle Fogg also began the half with back-to-back 3s, that coming after Arizona shot just 2-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half.

    Free throws put down final dagger

    After the Wildcats took a comfortable double-digit lead, it came down to making free throws in the second half. The Wildcats made 34-of-40 from the charity stripe, led by Wise’s perfect 14-for-14 and Budinger’s 8-for-11.

    “”When you make 41 free throws, you’re going to have a pretty good night,”” Pennell said.

    Both teams combined for 55 fouls throughout the game.

    Two Huskies, Jon Brockman and Venoy Overton, fouled out, while five other Huskies finished the game with 4 personal fouls.

    “”They made 41 of 50 free throws,”” Romar said. “”They did a great job of concentrating on the game in that regard.””

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