TEMPE — A trio of Arizona players walked into a weight room, serving as a postgame interview area, following a 67-52 victory over Arizona State on Sunday night.
There was the Derrick Williams, the All-America candidate. There was Jesse Perry, the hard-working, lunch-pail forward. And there was junior guard Kyle Fogg.
As the players separated to give the media some interview elbow-room, the camera-carrying, voice-recording throng followed Fogg.
Williams, at least on this night, was old news.
“Fogg’s the big guy,” Williams said to no one in particular. “They all want Foggy.”
Yes, it’s true. We wanted Foggy. In an otherwise unremarkable rivalry game filled with cold stretches that could shatter pipes, Fogg was the story, the headline, the man, the guy that saved those scribes on newspaper deadlines … or even those on the never-ending internet deadline.
Fogg made 6 of 9 3-point shots — everybody else on both rosters combined to make only seven — and ended up tying his career high with 26 points.
“This was really his night tonight,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller.
“For him not to get great credit with the victory would be a misnomer on my part. He scored 26 points and look what he did on defense. He did it at both ends.”
Fogg’s defense helped hold Arizona State’s Ty Abbott (12.1 points per game) to just seven points on 3 of 13 shooting.
But defense can be a boring topic. The difference was Fogg’s offense — from the start.
He scored Arizona’s first two points on free throws. He hit Arizona’s first basket — a 3-pointer. He had 10 points by the 13:28 mark of the first half.
“It felt great,” he said.
“It felt that every shot I put up was going to go in. I’ve been in the gym all week. It felt good to have a week off to get in the gym and work hard every night, and I did that. It felt good out there today.”
Good old sweat equity. That’s where that offense came from.
Last week, Fogg grabbed a good buddy, one of the team mangers, and went until he made a couple hundred shots each day. It might not be all that different from his normal routine, but the eight days between games allowed him to do it more, to get better rhythm.
Can he remember the last time he felt like this?
“Nope. Can’t remember,” he said.
Best game as a Wildcat?
“Definitely one of the top ones.”
Williams played a role in all this. ASU coach Herb Sendek focused his zone defense ever-stronger on the sophomore forward so that the Wildcats either had a tough time getting him the ball or, when they did, it was a gold-jersey feeding frenzy in the lane.
“They did a great job on D-Will,” Fogg said. “He was still scoring, but sometimes they were throwing the triple-team at him. And it left me open. He did a great job finding me when I was open.”
Williams was relatively quiet with 11 points and five rebounds — nursing his still-tender right pinky finger after hitting his hand on the rim in the first half. He also fouled out after not having any fouls at halftime, which did not please Miller. The coach has, with wicked sarcasm, blamed some of Williams’ foul problems on the officials. Not on Sunday night. He called out Williams for a lack of focus in that area.
But, as has become a positive trend, another series of Wildcats came to the rescue.
In the last game, against Cal, it was point guard MoMo Jones and reserve forward Kevin Parrom.
Against ASU, it was Fogg and Perry, who hustled his way to 10 points and seven rebounds.
“That’s the good thing about our team; it’s not a one-man team,” Williams said. “On any given night, anyone can for 25-plus.”
Well, it did take three overtimes against Cal, but Jones and Parrom did each 25 points. Bottom line, Williams has a point: In the past two games, three Wildcats have scored at least 25 points … and none is named Derrick Williams.
“It shows we have a lot depth and we’re not a one-man team,” Parrom said.
“I think people started to say that at the beginning of the year when Derrick was getting 20, 30, and the other guys were having seven or eight. We’re just proving to everybody that we’re a team.”
This team is moving onward and upward. The Pac-10 leading Wildcats — 21-4 overall and 10-2 in the league — return home this week to play the Washington schools.
Whose night will it be on Thursday?
Will it be Jamelle Horne’s turn against Washington State? Maybe it’s time for Solomon Hill to give it a whirl.
“Tonight was Foggy’s night,” Williams said. “He did a great job, taking excellent shots. Good thing they fell down for us tonight.”
Good thing for all of us.
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Christopher Wuensch: In their own words: Arizona completes sweep of rival ASU