Citizen Staff Writer
Arizona freshman Jamelle Horne got a nice surprise Saturday morning: He was told he’d get his second start.
Horne hadn’t played in the three previous games.
“He’ll throw it on you at the spur of the moment and expect you to produce,” Horne said of interim coach Kevin O’Neill’s decision to put him in to slow California forward Ryan Anderson.
“Naturally, I was trying to get back into the swing of things,” Horne said. “When you’ve been sitting out three games in a row, you don’t want to do anything to mess up.”
To his credit, Horne played well in his 17 minutes against California. He hit a 15-footer to keep UA close at 16-12, but then picked up his second foul.
“It was great (being out there),” he said. “. . . feeling the speed of the game and the intensity, especially in a game like this where it wasn’t the biggest game of the season, but we needed (the) win.”
The mentality of the bench, Horne said, is “to be ready” because you don’t know when you’ll get in.
When he does get in, what goes through his mind? “Focus,” he said.
O’Neill said Horne played well in practice and “deserved a chance. He played OK.”
It’s not clear if Horne or the other reserves will play often. Minutes seem rare from the bench, but O’Neill admitted he’s playing guys like Chase Budinger, Jerryd Bayless and Jordan Hill (when he’s not in foul trouble) too many minutes.
“That’s why they get a little bit tired in the second half,” O’Neill said.
But then, O’Neill said, “What am I going to do?”
No question, Arizona’s bench is thin. O’Neill will have to go to the bench and hope they do well, or not go to the bench and hope his starters stay strong.
College hoops today
Last week, 15 of the AP’s Top 25 teams lost at least one game. Those upsets included top-ranked North Carolina falling from the unbeaten ranks, losing to Maryland and No. 4 UCLA losing to Southern California.
“A lot of good teams and a lot of good coaches,” O’Neill said of why so many top teams lost. “That’s all there is to it. That’s how it goes.”
Steve Rivera’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington State (16-1, 4-1) at Arizona (12-6, 2-3), 6:30 p.m. Thursday. TV: FSNA
Washington (11-7, 2-3) at Arizona, 1 p.m. Saturday. TV: FSNA