The streaky Wildcats were at it again. This time it was a
positive finish in the friendly confines of Tucson,
winning 85-73 against the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland.
After that 0-14 deficit the team created for itself on
Saturday the team knew they could not afford to get off to
a slow start, no matter the level of competition. Oakland,
another mid-major that has established itself as a
legitimate program over the past few years, was off to an
8-4 start with an upset of Tennessee and Valparaiso with a
good showing verse #19 Michigan this month.
This game the Wildcats started off hot, getting up 10-2 in
the first four minutes behind Solomon Hill’s hot shooting
and solid defense.
They surrendered the lead (as they have been prone to do
this season) over the next few minutes, only to take back
a double digit lead sparked by 10 points scored by Nick
Johnson and Kyle Fogg. The run allowed the Wildcats to
enjoy a 15 point lead before letting Reggie Hamilton get
loose for 11 points in 3:40.
Hamilton (31 points, 6 assists) gave the Wildcats fits all
night with his balanced scoring, including four big threes
and three free-throws. Every time his team fell behind
Hamilton picked them up, with runs seemingly all by
The 15-point lead the Wildcats enjoyed nearing the end of
the first half was washed away and they only had a four
point advantage at the break.
The second half started strong for Arizona with two made
buckets, both created by Fogg (17 points, 6 assists),
including an assist to Hill (23 points, 11 rebounds) for a
big slam dunk. Fogg was consistently the best perimeter
player all game, showing he can play point when called
Back-to-back threes by Travis Bader (17 points, 5
rebounds) kept Oakland in the game early, but it wasn’t
for long as the Wildcats jumped out to a 19 point lead
with 11:39 to play and were playing some great team
In the second half the team made 15 field goals and
assisted on 10 of those, showing great chemistry and
teamwork. Five different Wildcats registered an assist in
the second half, and four had at least 3 assists in the
game. It was a great team effort that was sealed with
Josiah Turner’s baseline drive and reverse off of the
secondary break pass by Hill with 4:36 to go after Oakland
had cut the lead to single-digits.
The keys for the Wildcats have become a theme all season.
They made threes (eight), overcame runs (held two 15+
point leads cut to single-digits), running and youthful
defense late in games. The team held Hamilton to only four
field goal attempts in the final 10 minutes when he was
needed the most. All of his damage came early, scoring 26
of his 31 points in the first 29 minutes of the game.
With Pac-12 play right around the corner this was a great
test and tune-up leading into a very unpredictable
conference. The team has one more test at home verse
Bryant University on Thursday, and then invite Arizona
State in for conference play.
The tough non-conference schedule should make this young
team battle tested and ready for the grind. The schedule
is very favorable, and the team has a chance to separate
itself from the pack over the next few weeks.