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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hill says win in the bag

No. 7 Stanford at Arizona

The Stanford Cardinal enter tomorrow’s game at Arizona with the nation’s No. 7 ranking, having won seven in a row before losing last night in Tempe.

The Cardinal (20-4, 9-3 Pacific 10 Conference) had rolled through league play beating teams by margins large and small before running into the Devils, with a pair of 7-footers who will be playing in the NBA one day in the not too distant future.

So naturally it made perfect sense for UA forward Jordan Hill to go Rasheed Wallace and guarantee a victory in the 1:30 p.m. game in McKale Center televised nationally on ABC.

No cliché about just needing to play hard, no mere prediction, but a guarantee of a victory for the Wildcats (16-5, 6-5).

“”Guarantee,”” Hill said when given a chance to retract his statement. “”We’ve (beaten) two top-10 teams at home, so we can’t let up now, we’ve got to keep on now.

“”I guarantee we’re going to get it.””

UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill, always careful to be respectful of his opponent and never liking to be surprised by what his players say, did not care for Hill’s outburst of confidence.

“”Did he spell guarantee? Are you sure he said that? Were those guys drinking?”” O’Neill asked. “”I don’t know what to say. That’ll be posted.

“”You know what, he better hope we win.””

Added UA guard Jerryd Bayless, not wanting to add any fuel to the fire: “”Jordan’s a special person, and I’m going to hope for a win. We’re going to play hard, and hopefully we can take care of them.””

Hill will be at the heart of Arizona’s hopes for its third upset of a top-10 team in McKale this year having to battle Stanford big men Brook and Robin Lopez. Brook averages 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while Robin contributes 9.2 and 5.8.

Hill said he felt more comfortable playing behind California center DeVon Hardin in the post yesterday, as opposed to Sunday’s game against ASU when the Sun Devils would often throw a lob over the top to forward Jeff Pendergraph for a bucket when Hill fronted him. The Wildcats will employ that strategy against the Cardinal as well, Hill added.

Stanford also leads the conference in blocks at 4.96 per game, with Robin Lopez second in the league at 2.21 per game.

“”The biggest thing is it’s very tough to drive on them,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger. “”Both those Lopez twins are very good shot blockers, so it’s going to be very tough to go inside on them. When me and Jerryd shoot 8-for-(30) together it’s going to be tough for us to win, so myself and Jerryd need to really step our games up for this game.””

That’s what happened during the teams’ meeting last month in the Bay Area, when Bayless’ “”Shoe-gate”” incident threw him off.

O’Neill joked that the Wildcats would be sure to have extra shoes in tow in case they’re needed so Bayless won’t have issues like he did during his nine-point, 3-for-12 performance last time in which he missed a shot in the final seconds that would have tied it.

That win over the Wildcats started the Cardinal’s seven-game winning streak that ended last night in Tempe during which time Stanford head coach Trent Johnson has pointed to rebounding and defense as the main reasons for his team’s run.

“”One of the things that we take a lot of pride in is being able to rebound and defend,”” Johnson said, “”and we’ve got some breaks. We’ve got some balls that went in, and we’ve got some guys we’ve been playing against that haven’t shot the ball, and they’ve been accustomed to making shots.””

Although the breaks did not go their way in Tempe, if the Cardinal needed any extra motivation after giving up a nine-point lead with three minutes left against the Devils, now they’ll have it with Hill’s guarantee.


BREAKDOWN
Tale of the Tape: No. 7 Stanford at Arizona

Guards
Assuming Jerryd Bayless’ shoes don’t bother like him they did in his 3-for-12 outing during the first meeting, which included a missed shot in the final seconds that would have tied it, the Wildcats possess more firepower on the perimeter.
Advantage: Arizona

Forwards/Center
If Jordan Hill gets into foul trouble again, just close your eyes because it won’t be pretty to see what 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez and 6-foot-8 Taj Finger do against Arizona’s thin front line.
Advantage: Stanford

Intangibles
The Wildcats have already gunned down a pair of top-10 teams in McKale Center this year, and now we’ve got the Jordan Hill guarantee. The Detroit Pistons won the first four games Rasheed Wallace guaranteed victory in, so that confidence could be the extra push Arizona needs.
Advantage: Arizona

Prediction
Already facing the tough task of guarding the Lopez twins, Hill put added pressure on himself by making the guarantee. If he doesn’t stay out of foul trouble and doesn’t become a factor, I can only imagine what coach Kevin O’Neill will say to him. I say Hill will be up to the task and make the difference in a victory.
Arizona 61, No. 7 Stanford 57

– compiled by Michael Schwartz


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