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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hill strong for Wildcats in exhibition

    UA point guard Nic Wise goes for a layup in Wednesdays 78-54 win over Sonoma State in McKale Center. Wise scored 16 points in the Wildcats final exhibition game of the season.
    UA point guard Nic Wise goes for a layup in Wednesday’s 78-54 win over Sonoma State in McKale Center. Wise scored 16 points in the Wildcats’ final exhibition game of the season.

    Sonoma State might have figured it had a hill to climb in order to beat Arizona.

    The Seawolves just didn’t know it was Jordan Hill.

    The 6-foot-10 forward led the Arizona men’s basketball in a 78-54 win over its Division II opponent Wednesday night in McKale Center. Hill lit up the scoreboard with 30 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the Wildcats’ final tune-up game before the regular season begins Monday. His point total would have eclipsed his career-high of 23 points if the game wasn’t an exhibition.

    Hill said after the team’s first exhibition game last week that the biggest thing he was working on was his focus. Under his white headband and moppy hair, there was an abundance of concentration.

    “”You could definitely see in practice he’s more focused, and he’s really looking at the little things in practice,”” said forward Chase Budinger.

    Hill sank two free throws to score his 29th and 30th points with 3:34 left in the game, then walked straight to the trainer’s room to tend to pain in his lower back.

    “”It’s just chronic right now,”” UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said of Hill’s back pain. “”It’s nothing that’s going to keep him from playing. He’s just got a sore back. Sometimes early in the season … he’s got to get in the ice back as quick as possible.””

    Hill was not available for comment after the game.

    Hill posted 21 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 8 boards in the first half alone. And though his numbers weren’t matched in the second half, his play was very important for the production of guard Nic Wise.

    Just 2:56 after halftime, Hill had a monstrous block that led to a Wise layup to put the Wildcats ahead 46-35. Forty-one seconds later, another Hill deflection made way for a Wise jumper.

    Wise finished the game with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half because he had two fouls early on in the first.

    “”Nic Wise is – you can see, when he’s in the game, we’re a different basketball team,”” Pennell said. “”He’s so valuable to us.””

    Wise was also unavailable for comment after the game, as he was in the trainer’s room. He told Pennell right after the game he had to have the stitches above his left eye – which he received during last week’s exhibition game – adjusted, “”whatever that means,”” Pennell said.

    Hill’s intensity continued in the second half. As the ball flew out of bounds 4:39 into the period, it hit Zachary

    Bohnenkamp, a ball boy sitting under the north hoop, in the head and knocked his glasses off. Hill picked the boy up in the air, making sure he was OK.

    Bohnenkamp said after the game he was “”scared. Really scared,”” but that it was “”awesome,”” when Hill picked him up.

    “”(They’re) bent, but I can still wear them,”” Bohnenkamp said of his glasses.

    Arizona shot 54.7 percent from the field (29-of-53), and only allowed the Seawolves, who were picked to finish ninth of 11 teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, to net 35.6 percent (21-of-59) of their shots.

    “”On the offensive end, I was real, real pleased with our shot selection, overall,”” Pennell said. “”I can only think of a couple times that we forced shots, and when we get the opportunity to get the basketball in to Jordan Hill, and he’s as good as he was tonight, we’re going to be an awful good team.

    And 1

    Freshman Kyle Fogg got the start for the Wildcats, rather than senior Fendi Onobun. Pennell said Onobun got kicked in his shin – which he had surgery on in the offseason – in practice Monday, and sat out of practice Tuesday.

    “”It gave us an opportunity to play some small ball,”” Pennell said. “”I thought Kyle Fogg deserved the opportunity. He’s been practicing very well.””

    Fogg said Pennell gave him the nod because the guard was focusing well on defense.

    “”Definitely a little nervous, but I know I got a strong team behind me, so I just gotta work the ball around, play my role,”” Fogg said.

    Fogg finished the night with two steals and a turnover in 14 minutes.

    “”I don’t have to go out there and score because obviously we have Chase, J-Hill and Nic, who are just beasts,”” Fogg said. “”I’m just trying to play defense and get them the ball.””

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