UA takes step forward

By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

When Joe McLean dove across press row in the second half last night in pursuit of a loose ball, it resulted in such a collision the maintenance staff came out to see if the table needed repair.

Arizona needed no such attention in its 84-66 victory over Montana at McKale Center. The Wildcats used a stifling defense and devastating rebounding to repair themselves after a lackluster showing Saturday night in the 73-69 win at Houston.

"This was a good step forward after a step back against Houston," said forward Ben Davis, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds after a four-rebound performance against the Cougars.

No. 4 Arizona (6-0) held the Grizzlies (5-1) to 39.7 percent shooting and outrebounded them 47-30. The Wildcats also had 11 steals three by Reggie Geary and five blocks three by Joseph Blair.

But it was McLean's dive that seemed to wake up the crowd of 14,030, which had been lulled to sleep by a first half that produced just 25 total field goals.

"He's just playing the way I've seen him play," Davis said of McLean. "It's kind of contagious. You see him diving over tables and you find yourself doing it."

While Davis didn't get airborne, the Wildcats started to mend in the second half. The first half was a bit of a struggle, as Montana employed an effective 2-3 zone, forcing the Wildcats to shoot perimeter shots. Arizona did not respond, going 1 for 9 on 3-pointers and shooting only 43 percent from the field during the half, committing eight turnovers. But the Wildcats led 35-21 at the half because a 24-14 rebounding edge translated into 12 more shots for Arizona.

"We had a little bit of a letdown at first," McLean said, "but we were able to turn it around."

The second half was no contest. Arizona opened with a 23-11 run, keyed by eight points from Blair, and the Wildcats never looked back, extending their lead to as much as 28.

Blair continued his strong play with a 16-point, 13-rebound effort after an 18-point, 17-rebound night in Houston. Michael Dickerson led the Wildcats with 17 points after missing much of the last two games with a sprained left ankle.

"The ankle felt good today, I started to get into it," Dickerson said. "It's about at 85 percent. I can't cut and I have to keep the ankle straight."

Davis said he and Blair, who combined for 30 points and 23 rebounds, should have those numbers every game.

"Joseph will probably do that all season, it doesn't surprise me at all," Davis said. "I expect him to have 25 (points) and 15 (rebounds) a night."

UA coach Lute Olson said he saw many positives in the win, the most important being the ability of a wingman in this case both McLean and Dickerson, each of whom grabbed four rebounds to help out on the boards.

"We got a good effort from Michael and Joe on the offensive boards, which is not what we've been getting from the wings," Olson said. "We haven't had a third guy on the glass all year, and we did that tonight."

Besides the rebounds, McLean continued to show he can be a consistent scorer. After 13 points against Georgetown and seven against Houston, the 6-foot-6, 217-pound senior tied his career high with 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting. He was also 6 for 6 from the foul line.

"I feel really good about myself," McLean said. "I'm trying to make my time count and be confident."

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