Cats' Second-Half Run Drops Cougars

Jan. 31, 2009

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TUCSON--Arizona's second-half explosion fueled by defense and rebounding helped the Wildcats beat Washington State, 66-56, Saturday afternoon in McKale Center.

Double-doubles from Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger led the way for UA, notably the work on the glass. Hill had 16 points and 16 boards, while Budinger added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Arizona went from a near dead-heat at the break to a 38-32 edge on the boards.

The Wildcats' quest to work their way toward the Pac-10's upper division at the mid point of the conference season got a boost from the victory. UA improved to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in league action, dropping WSU to 12-9 and 4-5. The teams are tied for sixth place in the conference.The Cougars lost their third straight to Arizona.

WSU was led by 22 points from Taylor Rochestie and 12 from Aron Baynes. Budinger and Hill got help from Kyle Fogg with 15 and Zane Johnson with 10 points, the other two Cats in double figures.

Arizona played some more inspired defense to open the second half, and that and a scoring run paid off to counter some shooting woes. The Cats ended up shooting 40 percent from the floor in the game, but the defense helped hold WSU to the same figure. The second-half run involved seven second-half turnovers from WSU, which had 13 in the game to UA's eight.

UA led by 15 points with four minutes left and stayed focused enough to not let the Cougs get the lead under double digits the rest of the way until the final half minute, 64-56, after a three from Daven Harmeling.

The Wildcats, trailing by five at the break, took seven minutes to climb to within one, 39-38, after successive three-pointers by Nic Wise and Chase Budinger. Jordan Hill gave UA its first second-half lead, 40-39, with a little jumper at 11:55. And then Budinger hit a basket to give UA its biggest lead since the early going. UA added to it with a Kyle Fogg baseline drive at the second media timeout at 10:18.

By the time Fogg drove the baseline for a layup at 8:42, Arizona's run was 16-0, spanning five minutes. Taylor Rochestie drove the lane for a layup to break the drought and give WSU its first point in six minutes.

Wise answered with two points to keep UA up by nine, 50-41, and after several misses at both ends, Budinger drained a three from the top of the key to put the Cats ahead by 12. Budinger grabbed a big board at one end and then fed Zane Johnson for a wide-open three-pointer to give Arizona a 15-point lead.

In the first half:

The lead changed eight times in the first half, with WSU emerging at the break on top, 28-23, after a late 10-5 run.

Arizona missed seven of its first nine shots and trailed 7-5 six minutes into the game, and the contrast from Thursday night's 106-point pace against Washington was evident.

WSU hit three-pointers by Daven Harmeling and Klay Thompson in the ensuing minutes and took a 13-9 lead into a media timeout at 11:10. The Cats were three-for-11 from the field by then. But UA got a three from Zane Johnson and a Jordan Hill layup to give it its first lead, 14-13. The Cougs jumped back on top with a pair of baskets from Taylor Rochestie, one a three-pointer.

Arizona got its fifth steal, by Kyle Fogg, who drove for a layup and was fouled. He missed the bonus shot and the game was tied, 18-18. Aron Baynes dunked and was fouled by Johnson, and made the free throw to put WSU back up by three. Hill answered with a short turnaround jumper and at the final media timeout led, 21-20.

Johnson hit another three to put UA back on top, 23-22, and UA had another chance after a WSU turnover but Jamelle Horne was called for a charge. WSU answered with a three from Rochestie to go back up, 25-23, with about two minutes left.

UA's Chase Budinger had to take a three to beat the shot clock, missing, and WSU got Caleb Forrest to the line, making one for a three-point lead. The Cats got a pair of turnovers on their next possessions and WSU took advantage with a shot from Baynes to stretch the lead to five.

The Cats did a reasonably good job of handling the ball, with only five turnovers (six for WSU), but were plagued by overall shooting at 31 percent, compared to WSU's 40 percent. It was fairly even on the boards, 19-18 in UA's favor. The Cougs' five made three-pointers were the difference.

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