No Solomon Hill, no problem for the 'Cats
Arizona was entrenched in a tight battle late in the first half of Thursday's NCAA tournament tilt with Belmont when the unthinkable happened -- Solomon Hill was whistled for his third personal foul. As expected, the senior forward was forced to sit the rest of the half. With the lead at just 23-19 after a made free throw and 2:59 to go before intermission, things could have potentially turned sour for the Wildcats.
"They have had no offense when Solomon Hill is not in the game," CBS Sports color analyst Doug Gottlieb said. "And now it's up to Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons to penetrate that defense and create some open shots."
[Related video: Arizona-Belmont highlights @NCAA.com]
As if he heard the former Oklahoma State guard's comments for himself, Johnson proceeded to hit a three on the next possession.
Overall, the Arizona offense ran just fine without their senior leader on the floor; the Wildcats shot 3-5 from the field in the final 2:59 of the first half, cleaning up both of their misses with offensive rebounds. On defense, the Wildcats held the Bruins to without a field goal as Arizona ended the first half on a 9-1 run with Hill on the bench to take a much more comfortable 32-20 lead into the break.
The halftime margin would prove to be insurmountable for the Bruins and Arizona cruised to an 81-64 victory to advance to the round of 32. Obviously, Hill getting into early foul trouble is something Wildcats coach Sean Miller doesn't hope repeats itself in a Saturday tilt against the winner of the New Mexico-Harvard game.
But the 'Cats were able to pick up their teammate in a big spot with the game still in the balance.