TUCSON?-Sophomore Marcus Williams underscored Arizona’s hot shooting and topped its balanced scoring to help lead UA past California and open Pac-10 play with a 94-85 victory in McKale Center Thursday night.
Mustafa Shakur was one hoop and one assist and board shy of a triple double but put together a solid court leader game with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists
Ivan Radenovic and Jawann McClellan scored 12 of UA’s first 17 points in the second half, helping UA extend an 18-point lead to 25. But Williams jumped into action swiftly, scoring consecutive buckets to force a
Williams led all scorers with 21 points and helped lead the way in the percentage department by hitting all eight of his shots from the floor. Radenovic hit six of seven for 17 points while McClellan dropped in 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Chase Budinger chipped in 12 points, also making five of eight from the field.
The Cats out-rebounded the Bears by a 39-30 margin, taking advantage of missing Cal center DeVon Hardin, expected to be out a couple of months with a foot injury.
UA’s bench contributed minutes and points, with seven reserve players seeing action and adding 20 points. But the drop-off in experience saw UA’s shooting percentage drop from 70 percent to its final level of .603 in the last five minutes and the change in lineup also saw UA lose a 24-point lead in the final 3:30 of play.
UA was patient in the first half and played a slower pace when necessary to get good shots and post a superb 72 percent shooting effort in the first 20 minutes. And the Cats closed with a patented spurt to give it a solid halftime lead, 51-33.
More trading put the score at 7-7 before Williams’ layup gave
UA’s early rebounding and shooting made a difference. The Bears had 11 shots seven minutes into the game to UA’s six, but the Cats made four and
Budinger answered a Theo Robertson dunk with a jumper, but Robertson nailed a three at the 12-minute mark, and then hit another to make it 18-13 California at the 11:37 timeout. McClelland hit a free throw to cut the lead to four.
Shakur drove in traffic to put UA back on top at the 8:20 mark. Both teams missed good shots after a timeout, but Radenovic beat everyone down the court for a layup and the bonus shot on a foul, giving UA its biggest lead to that point at 28-24, with just over seven minutes remaining in the half.
The Cats got a turnover off a 35-second defense that forced a shot violation by the Bears and Radenovic got himself to the line again, hitting one for a five-point margin. Budinger dropped in a trey off a Shakur assist to put UA up 32-24 and
Radenovic answered a Ryan Anderson bucket with a move in the paint but
Shakur’s scooping reverse layup ended a patient possession to make it 41-28 and then Williams’ free throw kept building what eventually turned into a 31-9 run in the last nine minutes of the half.
Budinger and McClellan hit threes to give UA a 15-point lead and then McClellan nailed another three to make it 51-33 at the break. All eight players on the floor scored for UA in the half, led by Williams’ 12. UA hit 18 of 25 shots, with 13 of those coming off assists including five in the half by Shakur.