UA 81, OSU 73, OT: Up for a tough battle

Lavender, Fogg help Cats stave off Beavers in emotion-filled game
2012-01-13T00:02:00Z 2014-07-24T10:35:38Z UA 81, OSU 73, OT: Up for a tough battleBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 13, 2012 12:02 am  • 

Thanks to the Pac-12's unbalanced schedule, the Arizona Wildcats won't play Oregon State again during the regular season.

That ought to cool everyone down for a while.

With a career-high-tying 18 points from Brendon Lavender, Arizona beat OSU 81-73 in overtime Thursday in an emotional game that, for the second straight time against the Beavers, was marred by heated words, technicals and ejections.

Arizona also beat OSU during the Pac-10 tournament last season, when Beavers big man Joe Burton was ejected for flagrantly fouling UA's Kevin Parrom to the floor - and guard MoMo Jones was whistled for a technical when he gave Burton a piece of his mind.

This time, with 1:15 left in overtime, UA guard Kyle Fogg appeared to initiate a skirmish that wound up with Burton and UA's Kyryl Natyazhko ejected, as well as two players earning technical fouls. In addition, there was the sight of UA coach Sean Miller pushing two of his own players - and removing his tie afterward.

"There's a lot of emotion," Miller said, declining extended comment. "Young people sometimes can get carried away but I think both teams will learn from it."

The dust-up somewhat obscured an entertaining game that had the McKale Center crowd of 14,142 fans on their feet for much of the time, with neither team shooting well in the first half and then Lavender and OSU's Ahmad Starks holding a shootout in the second half.

But when Lavender became the only player UA made available for postgame interviews, he was asked nearly as much about the conflict as he was about his 5-for-6 three-point shooting in the second half - possibly the single-most impactful half of basketball he has played.

And, when asked if tension had been brewing throughout the game, Lavender didn't hesitate to answer.

"Yeah," he said. "It was a really crazy game. They were being really aggressive. But that's basketball and we were ready. It was an emotional game. Both teams love to compete and we both want to win."

Even though it was only January, the Beavers had particular reason to be playing with desperation. Having gone 10-2 in nonconference play to generate speculation that they could challenge for the conference title, they entered Thursday's game at 1-3 in Pac-12 play after losing in four overtimes to Stanford last Saturday in Corvallis.

Arizona, meanwhile, was humbled in a 65-58 loss to UCLA last weekend while beating USC despite displaying weaknesses.

Both teams may have been overly wound early, with Arizona shooting 32 percent from the field in the first half and OSU shooting only 31.

In the second half, the Wildcats shot 71 percent and OSU hit 64 percent, setting the stage for a wild final few minutes of regulation and the overtime period.

Then, when the game finally appeared in the Wildcats' control, when Fogg made a layup to give UA a 79-72 lead and drew a foul from OSU's Jared Cunningham with 1:15 to go, the emotions spilled over the top.

After Fogg made the layup, he bumped Cunningham and appeared to talk to him, and Cunningham pushed back. Then UA forward Solomon Hill approached Cunningham and, according to replays, appeared to be winding up to throw a punch.

Toward the end of the skirmish, Miller pushed both Hill and Natyazhko back to the bench, giving Natyazhko a hard shove to the shoulder.

Starks said Fogg's move was "a little uncalled for," though Cunningham said it was his mistake to react to Fogg.

While Natyazhko did not appear to throw a punch, because he and Burton left their respective benches they were thrown out of the game. Rules dictate that players doing so must be ejected, although they are unlikely to be assessed an ensuing suspension.

UA athletic director Greg Byrne said the Pac-12 will review the incident and, only if Burton or Natyazhko were found to be throwing punches, will they be suspended Saturday.

"The way we understand the rule, they were ejected for leaving the bench area but as long as it wasn't a fight, there's no suspension," Byrne said.

Meanwhile, Fogg and Cunningham were given technical fouls. Cunningham and Fogg fouled out, with Cunningham also having picked up a personal foul on Fogg's layup. Jesse Perry took the ensuing free throw for Fogg, but missed.

UA still went on to coast in the final minute, a strangely easy minute that closed out a hard-fought game.

Toward the end of regulation, Lavender and Starks held a furious shootout, with Lavender hitting five three-pointers over the half and Starks catching fire in the final minutes.

By the time Lavender tied his career high of 18 points with a fifth three-pointer, with 3:32 left, Arizona was ahead 67-62. Miller said it felt like Arizona needed every one of Lavender's five threes which, of course, it did.

"That's my job," Lavender said. "If I'm open, I'm going to shoot it. I been working really hard on my shot, and in practice we work really hard to find each other and my teammates did a great job of that."

However, Starks answered Lavender's fifth three with a quick, unguarded three-pointer from the top of the key that cut it to 67-65 with 3:16 left. He later put OSU ahead 72-70 with a 14-foot jumper but Fogg scored inside to tie it at 72 with 15 seconds left and Starks missed a final jump shot just before the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Then, it was Fogg who made his presence known late in overtime via the conflict with Cunningham.

But Starks, like Lavender, also figured it was all part of the game -a charged game that won't be repeated anytime soon.

"He was high-emotion," Starks said of Fogg. "It was a high intensity game. It happens."

Up next

• What: Oregon at Arizona

• When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

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

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