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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Men’s hoops uses runs to blow out 3-happy Bulldogs

Not even Samford’s deliberate pace could slow down the No. 15 Arizona men’s basketball team Wednesday night.

With the Bulldogs draining the clock by swinging the ball around the perimeter, the Wildcats still ran their way to an 86-57 win last night in McKale Center.

“”That’s what we’ve been doing all season,”” forward Chase Budinger said. “”We’ve always been jumping out of the gates and getting on teams from the start. I think this game in the second half we kept getting going, we didn’t let them back in the game.””

Arizona got off to a great start to the contest and kept the foot on the gas throughout the first half, taking a commanding 46-18 halftime lead.

The Wildcats used runs of 14-5 to start the game, 12-3 after a Bulldog bucket a minute later and 16-0 as the half winded down to put the game away early.

“”I think any team that comes in here knows that they’re in a little bit of trouble, and the longer you let them hang around, the tougher your job’s going to be,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said. “”I think we’ve done a pretty good job of coming out of the locker room ready to go.””

Forwards Marcus Williams and Chase Budinger dominated the first half, combining for 26 points on 13-of-16 (81.3 percent) shooting and 14 rebounds, four more than the entire Samford squad.

In all Arizona outrebounded the Bulldogs by 17 in the first half and 26 for the game.

The Wildcats’ zone forced Samford into shooting 3s most of the contest, as they set a McKale Center and Arizona opponent record with 43 3s, hitting 32.6 percent of them. In the first half, 23 of the Bulldogs’ 29 shots were from that distance, but only four went into the basket, good for 20.7 percent shooting.

“”They were kind of short,”” Williams said. “”I don’t know how much they really wanted to drive to the basket, but they could shoot the ball as you could see in the second half.””

Said guard Mustafa Shakur: “”That’s what coach O wanted us to focus on, try to take them out of their game.””

Olson said his squad scrambled to the open man, often forcing Samford players to make the extra pass, better than they’ve done all season.

The Wildcats kept the Bulldogs off balance by throwing them a mixture of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones as well as man-to-man defense, in the process limiting Samford to only a couple of their patented backdoor layups.

“”You never know in a situation like that,”” Olson said. “”Sometimes that changeup will keep them out of rhythm.””

Olson scheduled Samford to give his squad a taste of a style they will see in Pacific 10 Conference play against Washington State.

Budinger said he wasn’t affected by the slower tempo, saying it gave him more time to rest on defense, but Olson once again compared it to going to a bad dentist.

“”The reason that we play this type of team is because we have some teams in our league that we have to learn defensive patience,”” Olson said, “”and I don’t think there’s anyone that probably enjoys playing (this way).””

Sophomore guard J.P. Prince was not in attendance at the game, which Olson said was due to a personal matter he won’t comment on.

Besides Prince, the rest of the bench got plenty of action in the second half after Olson used his starters for most of the first half. All the bench players got into the game as the Wildcats often played with at least four reserves on the floor together.

Guard Nic Wise led the bench with nine points on three 3-point shots.

“”I was happy with Nic tonight because he did more than standing around the outside waiting for opportunities at 3,”” Olson said. “”He was much more active. You can see our guys are surprised when he misses that (3).

“”If you give him a look he doesn’t miss a whole lot, but he needs to do more of penetrating and dishing and being active to find gaps.””

And 1

Shakur and Williams were named preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy Tuesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The award is one of the most prestigious in college basketball given annually to the nation’s top college player.

The duo are among 50 players on the lists, including five from the Pacific 10 Conference, and puts the Wildcats on the list of nine squads with multiple nominees.

Shakur, who became the 40th Arizona player to reach the 1,000-point total for his career after scoring 14 points, is averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 assists per game, and Williams is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest.

“”It’s an honor, I’m definitely glad to be part of that,”” Williams said. “”‘Staf’s playing well, he deserves to be on there more than anybody.””

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