UA-UTEP

No. 12 Arizona 72, UTEP 51: Cats standing up well

Size no longer issue as taller UA shakes off UTEP in second half
2012-11-16T00:00:00Z 2012-11-28T21:27:52Z No. 12 Arizona 72, UTEP 51: Cats standing up wellBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Before Thursday's game, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller took a peek at the physical size of UTEP players and had reason to worry.

There were big men of 6-10 or taller. A handful of 6-6 or taller forwards, two of whom were sons of former NBA lottery pick Chris Washburn. And a savvy, veteran point guard in 6-0 Jacques Streeter.

But, in UA's 72-51 win over the Miners at McKale Center, it became apparent that Miller, well, just doesn't have to worry quite as much about these kind of things he did as before.

The Wildcats have three 6-10 or taller players of their own, and they're all high school All-Americans, who just happened to combine for 18 rebounds. Arizona also has an disruptive presence inside with forward Angelo Chol, who chipped in six points, two rebounds and a block.

In the middle of it all were two veterans that Miller praised for their poise in Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson - while scoring-minded point guard Mark Lyons came up with another 17 points to lead both teams in scoring.

In the end, it didn't matter how big UTEP was. It didn't matter that Arizona committed 19 turnovers. Or committed 19 fouls.

What did: Arizona had 35 rebounds. UTEP 15.

"It was a good effort on the glass," Miller said. Out-rebounding by 35-15 "against a team that plays that physical says a lot about our depth and physical play."

While it lagged at times, failing to pull away from UTEP until the final few minutes, Arizona put together a balanced offense that had eight players scoring six or more points. There were also eight players with at least a pair of rebounds each.

While Lyons led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting, with one assist, Hill had 10 points and six rebounds. Kaleb Tarczewski added eight points and six rebounds for UA.

"Everyone can contribute on a given night," Hill said.

UTEP had three players in double-figure scoring, with brothers Julian and Chris Washburn each scoring 11.

UA shot 48.9 percent from the field and made half of its 18 three-point attempts. The Wildcats also were 19 of 23 from the free-throw line, though they sent UTEP to the line 19 times.

"We're fouling the shooter," Miller said. "Everybody knows that. We have to correct that. They're backbreakers."

The Wildcats didn't lead by double figures for good until the final seven minutes of the game and it wasn't until Chol dunked with just under two minutes to go that UA held a commanding lead, 70-49.

The Wildcats led 63-49 at the final media timeout (3:47) of the game but at that point they were 1-5 from three-point range in the second half and had eight turnovers after halftime.

UA led 35-22 at halftime but UTEP made 5 of 6 free throws in the first and out-rebounded UA 4-1 in the first four minutes of the second half. However, the Miners never led in what was the first game played in 17 years between the former Border Conference rivals.

In the first half, Arizona beat UTEP on both ends of the floor to take a 35-22 halftime lead.

The Wildcats made 8 of 13 three-point shots, with Lyons hitting 3 of 5 en route to a team-high 10 points, and played sound defense. UTEP managed to make only 34.6 percent of its field goals and just 3 of 8 three pointers.

Both halves were uneven, but Miller took some perspective in the fact that it was only mid-November.

He also had some good vibes after receiving letters of intent from Rondae Jefferson and Elliott Pitts.

A forward, Jefferson is a "warrior," Miller said, with a similarly versatile game as Hill, whom Jefferson will be essentially replacing. In Pitts, a guard, Miller said "he's a great passer and a very skilled shooter" who can play multiple roles.

"We're ecstatic to have both of them," Miller said.

The Wildcats have two more scholarships to offer and Miller said he expected to add at least one more player, but maybe not until the spring signing period.

On StarNet: Keep up with the Wildcats on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Up next

• Who: Long Beach St. at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Monday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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