BASKETBALL

Arizona 70, USC 54: Fogg plays big as career winds down

2012-02-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:46:10Z Arizona 70, USC 54: Fogg plays big as career winds downBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats have located another "big man" for their undersized lineup, and coach Sean Miller is kicking himself for not discovering him earlier.

Then again, who knew that 6-foot-3-inch senior guard Kyle Fogg would become a monster on the boards?

Having averaged just 2.6 rebounds in Arizona's first 13 Pac-12 games, Fogg grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds to pair with 16 points while leading the Wildcats out of some typically early doldrums Thursday and to a 70-54 win over USC at McKale Center.

Fogg's efforts, combined with a career-high 15 points and six assists from freshman guard Josiah Turner, helped Arizona pick up its 20th win of the season. The Wildcats are 20-9 overall and 11-5 in the Pac-12, with two games remaining in the regular season. USC dropped to 6-22 and 1-14.

Fogg also had 16 points and 10 rebounds Feb. 16 at Washington State, and nine rebounds with 11 points against Washington two days later, for a rebounding average of 10.3 in his past three games.

There are two sides to all that production, Miller said afterward.

"The good … is he's doing it," Miller said, smiling. "The bad is I wish I had known this a long time ago. We would have held him to a much higher standard along the way."

Fogg attributed his rebounding partly to guarding USC point guard Maurice Jones, who is 5-foot-7 and wasn't normally sent to the boards, and to some recent refocusing.

"Ever since last week I've been trying to put more pressure on myself to box out and go get more rebounds on the defensive end," Fogg said.

But there may be an even simpler answer: Fogg has only two regular-season games left in his college career and, as with the rest of the Wildcats, has absolutely no guarantees for the postseason.

"I think he just really wants to win," Miller said. "He's done it in a couple of games, and as he's done it he's gained more confidence. And it's not as if he has two 6-11 guys in there cleaning up the glass. There's a lot of opportunities for our guards to rebound, and when we have rebounded well, generally it has been our guards who have contributed."

There's also an opportunity for a smaller guy to earn bragging rights. Fogg's 12 rebounds were actually more Thursday than center Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill had combined.

Perry and Hill, who have been by far Arizona's top two rebounders all season, had just five boards each against USC.

When asked if he might give Fogg a hard time - or if Fogg would give him one - Perry laughed.

"It's cool," Perry said. "It's fun to watch. It's good to have other guys going up there hard to the glass."

Fogg's early rebounding was more than fun for the Wildcats. It was a necessity.

Fogg had eight rebounds in the first half alone Thursday, when the Wildcats needed them the most.

The injury-depleted Trojans actually led the Wildcats by up to eight points early, a trend that Miller called "disturbing," thanks in part to USC's interior efforts.

"They tried to pack it in on me," Perry said. "It was definitely hard to find a flow because they basically sagged off of every player, and that definitely affected me."

But the Wildcats managed to keep USC scoreless for the final eight minutes of the first half, while Fogg and Turner contributed key baskets.

Fogg had eight points in the first half, and hit 2 of 3 three-pointers, while making a jumper to tie the game at 24 with 2:47 to go.

Turner took over the final minute. He stole a pass from USC's Garrett Jackson, then ran downcourt for a dunk with 42 seconds to go and, in the final second, banked one in on an assist from Brendon Lavender to give Arizona a 28-24 lead at halftime.

Lavender, who started over Turner because Miller said he was rewarding Lavender's recent play, finished with eight points, two assists and a steal.

Arizona first built its lead to double digits four minutes into the second half and coasted most of the rest of the way.

The Wildcats had a chance to play guard Jordin Mayes for the first time since his Feb. 2 foot stress reaction - though Miller said he was merely aiming to warm Mayes up in order to have him at full strength on March 4 at ASU.

Also, thanks to the production of their guards, and because only Perry had foul trouble inside, the Wildcats never missed center Kyryl Natyazhko, who was suspended for the game for unspecified reasons. Miller said Natyazhko's status remains uncertain for Saturday's game with UCLA.

"Kyle and Josiah's play were two reasons we were able to win," Miller said. "Our defense at times wasn't at the standard we're going to need to continue to win, but sometimes at this time of year it's a matter of figuring out how to win and moving on to the next one. There isn't a whole lot of room to improve this late in the season."

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/multimedia for an interactive insider on the game against UCLA at azstarnet.com/video

Up next

• What: UCLA at Arizona

• When: Noon Saturday

• TV; radio: Ch 13; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

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