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Good outing vs. USC gives Cats confidence

Citizen Staff Writer



USC guard Daniel Hackett made a assumption when Arizona left the Galen Center last month:

“The Wildcats are pretty good and are going to get better,” he said.

His proof? The Wildcats nearly pulled off a win, losing 65-64 on a Hackett last-second free throw after a foul by Jamelle Horne. Only one team has been able to beat USC at home in 13 games this season – No. 11 UCLA.

UA interim coach Russ Pennell uses that game against the Trojans as the benchmark moment where the Wildcats started to play well, helping the team go on its current season-best five-game win streak.

As USC coach Tim Floyd put it, “they gave us everything we wanted.”

UA hosts the Trojans at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at McKale Center.

“I’d think that would give them immense confidence,” Floyd said of UA being at home for this game. “They had us beat and outplayed us for 38 1/2 minutes.”

The Wildcats led for most of the game.

“It gives us confidence that we were with them and we were at their house,” said UA’s Jordan Hill.

“Now, we’re back at our house. We feel more comfortable now. We know what we need to do when they come here.”

Pennell said it’s a much different situation had the Trojans won by 30.

“It gives us some confidence knowing that we can play with them,” Pennell said. “They’re a really, really good team. Does it serve as motivation? I hope so.

“Do we get caught up in (thinking) we should have won? This is much more than that. We’re playing good basketball and want to continue with that.”

Floyd said one of the big differences with Arizona now compared with the last meeting a month ago is that the “role players are more comfortable.”

He added that Chase Budinger hasn’t played this well in his career while Hill and Wise have both been “outstanding” during the stretch.

“But the role players are more confident and making better plays,” Floyd said.

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