By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, January 9, 2006
It might not seem orthodox for a call that goes against a team to change the game for them, but that was the case yesterday at McKale Center for the Arizona men’s basketball team.
The No. 21 Cats (10-4, 3-1) beat Southern California (11-4, 2-2) 74-63 yesterday, with the momentum changing play coming from a botched charge call going against a grounded Ivan Radenovic with 16:07 left in the second half.
“I think (it was the momentum changer),” Radenovic said. “I think obviously they were charges, but whatever, it woke up the crowd and we continued to play our defense and scored a lot of points off of fast breaks.”
After the blocking call against Radenovic and the two free throws by Ryan Francis, the Wildcats started a typical Arizona run, going 17-5 to take a 16-point lead, their largest of the game.
“Defense pressure is what wins games,” junior Mustafa Shakur said. “When we get steals and we get out on the run and get dunks and get great plays it just really brings the fans to their feet and we get everyone involved and it’s a lot of fun out there.”
The big run by the Wildcats included a three-pointer by senior Chris Rodgers, a dunk in transition by freshman Marcus Williams, a block by Williams and a charge taken by Rodgers.
“(Yesterday was) probably as good a defensive effort as we’ve put in,” head coach Lute Olson said.
The defense might have been one of the things talked about after the game, but the officiating was something else brought up.
Radenovic’s charge was paired without another botched charge called that had Olson throwing his hands up and the crowd on their feet in an all-out frenzy.
“The video board is not the friend of officials that make bad calls and those two (blocking calls) may have been as bad as any you’re ever going to see.” Olson said.
Shakur said that he has never heard a crowd that into the officials.
“I have never heard the crowd that loud in disgust or disbelieve of a call,” Shakur said. “They were so loud you couldn’t hear anything, and after that it was a lot of fun.”
Shakur lead the Wildcats with 17 points on 7-8 shooting, and Olson said that the team’s 52.8 shooting percentage is due to good ball movement on offense.
“Great ball movement on the other end and that is the reason our shooting percentage was high,” he said.
The team’s standout performance came from Radenovic who played 34 minutes and notched 10 points to go along with his 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
“He played the best of anybody on our team and I think a lot of guys played well,” Olson said. “I think he was the best player on the court today and he was probably the best player on the court on Thursday.”
Arizona got double figure scoring from all five of their starters, with Adams contributing 16 points, Rodgers 11 and Williams 10.
This was the last game Arizona will play without sophomore Jawann McClellan who has been suspended for academic eligibility through the first 14 games of the season.
Pending McClellan’s grade in a winter session class, he will be back in the line-up for the Oregon State game on January 12.
Olson said that looking back on the first four conference games, the team can’t be too disappointed while missing one of their best players.
“We played the four games without one of our best players,” Olson said. “I think going into it, we would probably have said that if we can get through the first two weeks without Jawann and be 3-1, we would have been willing to take that.”
The Wildcats begin their Oregon trip this Thursday in Corvallis, Ore. against Oregon State.