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UA Hoops: Experience trumped youth in NY

It is a common thought that New York represents a certain
culture of grittiness and toughness. The Arizona Wildcats
had to capture some of that toughness to overcome a
partisan crowd at Madison Square Garden in the backyard of
their opponent, the St. John’s University Red Storm, whom
they defeated 81-72.

Out of the gates the Wildcats did not match the intensity
of the Red Storm.

To say that the Wildcats were paltry in the paint is like
saying Josiah Turner is simply misunderstood–both
dramatic understatements. In the first half they were out
toughed, out-hustled and out scored in the paint 16-2 only
scoring ONE basket inside the three-point line.

That is generally a recipe for disaster, but the Wildcats
weathered the storm with the help of nine three-point
shots made by five different players. The shot-making was
so impressive that it inspired the (at one time partisan)
crowd to chant “U OF A… U OF A… U OF A…” as the game went
to the half.

The athleticism and speed of the Red Storm took over to
start the second half as they built a six-point lead (66-
58) with 7:01 to play in the second half. When the game
resumed after the TV timeout it became the Solomon Hill,
Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry Show.

All the talk entering the season was about the incoming
recruiting class and how they were going to basically be
the team. When the chips were down, head coach Sean Miller
leaned on two seniors in Fogg and Perry, two juniors Kevin
Parrom and Hill, and a sophomore Jordin Mayes. Coach
Miller has the luxury of talented freshman that provide
quality depth and a good mix of veterans with big game
experience.

Fogg facilitated the offense with three assists in that
stretch including the play of the game where Fogg (13
points 6 assists) took a pick from Perry (11 points 9
rebounds) leading to a pass to him on the roll and a lay-
up that sealed the win for the Wildcats. For most of the
night Perry was quiet, but he finished loud and clear with
six points during the run that closed the game.

For everything Fogg and Perry did on the court, the reason
the Wildcats won this game was that Hill (15 points, 6
rebounds, 4 assists) stepped up down the stretch, again.
On the glass, on defense and as a playmaker the effect of
Hill when he is aggressive is immeasurable for this team.
He is clearly the most talented player on the roster, but
consistently under plays his talent.

In the previous game against Ball State in Tucson, Hill
took over late, scoring 9 of the teams last 17 points
allowing the ‘Cats to pull away from their much less
talented opponent. This St. John’s team is much more
talented than any of the previous three opponents for the
Wildcats, but they lacked depth and experience which
played right into the strengths of Hill and his teammates.

This may be the confidence builder that Hill needed to
finally emerge as the leader on the court. His confidence
was rattled as a freshman and he has yet to find the form
that brought him to Tucson as a highly-touted recruit. A
big win against an equal or some would argue better
opponent in a hostile environment could be exactly what
has been needed for now two plus years.

Thursday, Arizona won over a rowdy road crowd on national
television in impressive fashio;, just the type of early-
season win that can shape a successful season.

Notes: Josiah Turner was a non-factor despite
finally getting back to action off the bench with 8 points
4 assists 2 steals… A small skirmish started at center
court where Turner came running from the bench to provoke
with 2:57 to go in the game, he did not see action
afterwards… The Wildcats nailed 14-28 three-point field
goals… Seven different players made a three for the
Wildcats.