UA men's notebook: 'Protected' Williams can give USC fits

2011-02-25T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:00:08Z UA men's notebook: 'Protected' Williams can give USC fitsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 25, 2011 12:00 am  • 

LOS ANGELES - Derrick Williams made it through the first half of Thursday's game without a foul, which probably doesn't surprise USC coach Kevin O'Neill.

Williams is "the most protected dude since Michael Jordan," O'Neill told Los Angeles reporters earlier this week.

"If the guy walks across the court, it's a foul," O'Neill added.

Williams defended himself on Twitter.

"I don't get Michael Jordan treatment," he posted. "Just stop fouling me, and we will be good."

In any case, O'Neill also said before Thursday's game that the Trojans would have a legitimately hard time handling him.

"We've got to be careful not to foul, show our hands," O'Neill said. "He's very good at drawing contact. He spins. He does all that kind of stuff. He's going to get to the foul line. He's the best in the country at it. What we've got to do is to avoid dumb or crazy fouls."

Williams actually had foul trouble himself against USC last month. But he scored 20 points in 18 minutes while picking up four fouls in what was his first full game after suffering his complex finger sprain against UCLA on Jan. 27.

Ex-players on hand

Former UA forward Luke Walton of the Lakers was among the former Wildcats on hand to watch the game at the Galen Center.

Also in attendance were Harvey Mason and Kevin Flanagan, players from earlier in the Lute Olson era, and UA athletic director Greg Byrne.

Red uniforms

The Wildcats wore their new red road uniforms for first time Thursday after a team vote earlier in the day. Arizona debuted its new uniforms Jan. 27 against UCLA but had worn only the blue and white versions so far. The Wildcats are 3-0 in the new blue uniforms.

"Sean (Miller) always said whatever the guys want to wear is fine," UA spokesman Richard Paige said.

The Wildcats are also likely to wear red uniforms Saturday at UCLA because the Bruins are hosting a "blue-out," with fans asked to wear blue in the manner McKale Center fans were asked to wear white last Saturday against Washington.

High praise

Before Thursday's game, O'Neill said the Wildcats could make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, saying they're as good as teams such as Tennessee, Texas and Kansas that the Trojans have played this season.

"This team is going to be able to compete nationally," he said. "They're well-coached, play hard, and they have 11 guys deep. They're hitting the three better than anyone in the country. I think Sean has done a tremendous job and he has a superstar player (Williams) who makes it easier for everybody else. They're a very, very good basketball team. They've improved significantly over the past two months, and I think they will continue to improve."

O'Neill said UA's shooting has improved the most as the season has progressed.

"Their shooting is great," he said. "They have so many guys who can make shots that it's really hard to guard them."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Utah 5 1 0 0.833 15 3 0 0.833
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
Washington 3 3 0 0.500 14 4 0 0.778
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
1/24 64-82
USC at
Oregon State
1/24 55-59
Washington State at
1/24 58-90
Arizona at
1/24 73-50
Arizona State at
1/24 70-89
Washington at
1/25 6:30 pm
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
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