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Wildcats looking like teams of past

Citizen Staff Writer



EUGENE, Ore. – All of a sudden, the Arizona men’s basketball team has turned into an early 2000s Wildcats’ model.

Much like the good ol’ days of dominating and rolling through teams with big runs, Arizona found a way to do that Saturday in an 87-77 win over Oregon, thanks to a combined 66 points from Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise.

A 20-7 run midway through the second half helped UA pull away.

“It’s always nice to go on the road and win a game,” said UA interim coach Russ Pennell. “We were fortunate to go on the road and win two. For us right now, it’s much needed.”

Said UA’s Wise: “It feels real good; that game on Thursday (against Oregon State) helped us win this one. This is a tough place to play. Getting the sweep is big time for us.”

UA hadn’t won a non-neutral site road game this season until Thursday.

Arizona (16-8) has won a season-high five straight games and is 6-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference. It’s the first time this season Arizona has gone over the .500 mark in league play. Oregon (6-17) is still winless in Pac-10 play at 0-11.

“It’s a big winning streak for us; something we needed to do,” said Budinger.

Just three weeks ago, Arizona looked as if it was limping to the finish line – its chance for a 25th straight NCAA Tournament in jeopardy.

What was the key for the win over the Ducks?

Maybe it was the two deep 3-pointers in the second half by junior Wise, who had 17 points.

Perhaps it was the thunderous dunk by sophomore Jamelle Horne after an offensive rebound.

Maybe it was Hill’s inside dominance. He finished with 24 points.

Perhaps it was Budinger’s consistent and persistent offensive moves. He had 25 points.

Arizona went on a 30-14 run in the second half, scoring on 13 straight possessions.

“I didn’t know it was 13,” Pennell said. “I just thought we were taking good shots. I didn’t realize we had scored that many in a row. We wanted to take good shots and take care of the basketball.”

UA did just that, having no turnovers in the second half after having eight in the first 20 minutes.

“That’s been a strong correlation with our team, when we haven’t turned the ball over we’ve been able to play extremely well,” Pennell said.

UA’s second half was greatly different than its effort in the first half when it seemed a step slow, despite Budinger’s 16 points.

“We just came in at half and talked about some things,” Budinger said. “We needed to step it up in the second half, control the tempo.”

Arizona led 37-36 at halftime, as the Wildcats failed to gain any offensive consistency or defensive stability.

UA downs Oregon 87-77 for ‘much-needed’ sweep

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