UA 85, Oakland 73: Hill dissects Grizzlies

Miller: Junior forward has his best game as Cat with 23 points
2011-12-21T00:01:00Z 2014-07-24T10:32:07Z UA 85, Oakland 73: Hill dissects GrizzliesBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 21, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Postgame interviews with Solomon Hill are like few others, and they demand your attention.

The Arizona junior forward, who scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Wildcats past the prolific shooters of Oakland 85-73 on Tuesday at McKale Center, will usually dissect the game with a coach's precision and intensity.

And he'll often cast his head downward, peering into the table before him, and take the blame for any number of things.

It may be a product of a cerebral, mature approach to the game but an approach that, the way UA coach Sean Miller sees it, can occasionally also be dangerous.

"He has as big of a motor as any kid I've been around to get better," Miller said. "Once in a while that motor can work against him, because he wants it so bad that to me he almost self-imposes pressure."

So, after Hill struggled in UA's 71-60 loss to Gonzaga on Saturday, Miller sensed what was going on. The two went over the shots Hill took in UA losses to San Diego State and Gonzaga and tried to make sense of it.

"It just took my mind," Hill said. "It motivated me. It showed me I had to relax. I let (Gonzaga) force what we were going to do on offense. I can't let a team do that. We've got to stick to what we do best."

So they did. And he did.

On the very first possession of Tuesday's game, Hill pulled down a rebound off Jordin Mayes' missed shot, then put the ball in. Two minutes later, he hit a three-pointer and a minute after that, UA was up 10-2.

The Golden Grizzlies, who had 31 points from furiously attacking guard Reggie Hamilton, came back quickly to take a brief 14-13 lead but never could sustain it.

While the game had several momentum swings - UA led by 15 in the first half then just two early in the second - the Wildcats always found control before long. They led by 19 midway through the second half and, after Oakland cut it to six points with six minutes left to play, took over again.

Hill had five points and an assist over a three-minute span late in the game to make sure it happened, the opposite of Saturday's game against Gonzaga, when the Bulldogs quickly established themselves inside and Hill finished with six points on 1-for-7 shooting and six rebounds.

The difference, Hill and Miller said, was that he didn't force those shots like he did against Gonzaga and San Diego State. But he still made things happen, also finishing with 11 rebounds, three assists and a block.

"Today, they closed out hard on me, but once I got the ball I was able to swing it out to a guard on the wing," Hill said. "If I set a quick screen either the guard's going to be open or I'm going to be open. We made them play defense instead of sitting in the paint."

"I really didn't have a game like Gonzaga. I just went out there and took what they did."

Miller was only too happy to see it. The UA coach said it was Hill's best game as a Wildcat, not just because of the scoring but because of everything else he did on the floor.

"He worked very, very hard" after the Gonzaga game, Miller said. "We had a good talk (Monday), and it makes me feel good about his future because his mind was in the right place. I give him a lot of credit for his performance tonight."

So did teammate Kyle Fogg.

"He played great, and it's not just his scoring - it's his rebounding and assists. He kind of does it all for our team," Fogg said. "It's tough to come back from a hard game like Gonzaga and really be effective. Tonight he got that out of his mind, and he really played well. That's the reason we won the game."

It helped, of course, that Fogg chipped in a well-rounded performance himself, with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals while becoming the 46th UA player to surpass the 1,000-point mark.

And it helped, of course, that UA out-rebounded the Grizzlies 39-28, keeping them from firing up even more than the 62 field goals they attempted.

A full 32 of those field goal attempts were three-point shots, but Oakland put only nine of those in, for a 28 percent rate. UA is now holding opponents to just 27 percent shooting from three-point range, a point of pride for Miller even as he has occasionally fretted about rebounds and size.

There are still issues, as Miller says, but the fact is that the Wildcats are 8-4 entering a final nonconference game with Bryant on Thursday. The Gonzaga game, for Hill and the Wildcats, became a much more distant memory Tuesday.

"The only what you can cure (a memory like Gonzaga) is to not be living in the past or take the next game unprepared," Miller said. "Our team worked hard, and we had a good performance against an excellent team."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats on Bruce Pascoe's blog azstarnet.com/pascoe

Up next

• What: Bryant University at Arizona

• When: 5 p.m. Thursday

• TV; radio: Ch 58, FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 2 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 1 0 0 1.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 1 1 0 0.500
USC 0 0 0 0.000 1 2 0 0.333
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 2 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 54-71
Syracuse at
California
11/20 54-71
UNLV at
Stanford
11/21 5:00 pm
Toledo at
Oregon
11/21 5:00 pm
UC Riverside at
Utah
11/21 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Colorado at
Wyoming
11/22 4:00 pm
Long Beach State at
UCLA
11/23 8:00 pm
Missouri at
Arizona
11/24 3:00 pm
@Arizona State, @Maryland 11/24 5:00 pm
@Oklahoma State, @Oregon State 11/24 6:30 pm
@Michigan, @Oregon 11/24 7:30 pm
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