Oakland guard provides 'great challenge'

2011-12-21T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:14:38Z Oakland guard provides 'great challenge'Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 21, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Had his jersey featured the pale blue of UCLA or the deep purple of Washington, maybe Reggie Hamilton would have received proper due Tuesday night at McKale Center.

Coming off a 41-point game, Oakland's senior guard hung 31 on the Wildcats despite being guarded by Kyle Fogg, who shut down top wings at Florida and Clemson two weeks ago.

Hamilton, who made 12 of 21 field goal attempts, is "one of the special guards in college basketball," UA coach Sean Miller said.

"I know McKale Center has seen their fair share of great guards, but when you really think about his impact on the game, he's special," Miller said after the Wildcats' 85-73 victory. "Just because it says Oakland, and it doesn't say maybe a different school, doesn't make him any less of a player. I thought it was a great challenge.

"And we held him to 31."

Miller said Hamilton's best shots came off the Golden Grizzlies' long offensive rebounds. It was "one heck of a challenge," Miller said, to guard a player who created his own shot.

"To me, we gave good effort, and we challenged shots," Miller said.

Hamilton, who averaged 22 points before Tuesday, said the Golden Grizzlies "had great effort but couldn't make the shots" Tuesday.

"It's a wonderful atmosphere," said Hamilton, who played at McKale Center with UMKC as a freshman.

Fogg, who guarded Hamilton most of the night, called the senior "a great player" who "can really do it all." His 41 points against Valparaiso is the second-highest mark in the NCAA this year.

Fogg took solace in the outcome, however.

"We knew he was going to feel confident coming off (the 41-point) game," Fogg said. "He still had a great game, but we ended up with the win."

Forward Solomon Hill said the Wildcats can learn from Hamilton.

"Defense needs to be a big thing - coach really hard-presses that," he said. "Just staying as a team, helping guys like Fogg.

"It just can't be on Fogg, that he has to go against a guy that just scored 41. It has to be a team thing.

"We just can't leave him on an island and expect him to stop him 1-on-1.

"Guys need to buy into the concept of, 'Just help.'

"We showed glimpses of it tonight."

Small lineup

The Wildcats pulled away from Oakland for good with about six minutes left, turning a six-point lead into a 12-point victory.

For the last 5:01, the Wildcats had the same lineup on the floor - Jesse Perry, Nick Johnson, Fogg, Hill and freshman Josiah Turner.

Turner does not start, having been displaced by Jordin Mayes, but was on the floor when it mattered most Tuesday.

"We're still learning about our team," Miller said. "Part of it is, you have Josiah still moving down the road toward where I think down the road he'll be.

"And Kevin Parrom, the same for him.

"Sometimes it's almost like we have a couple different teams out there."

Earlier in the day, Miller said Turner was in "the best place since he came to Arizona."

The freshman had maturity issues, missing the team's trip to Florida and being benched for the home game against Ball State.

"Hitting rock bottom is a great wakeup call," Miller said, "And since then, he's moved in a great direction. My fingers remain crossed."

Turner played 23 minutes, to Mayes' 18.

Turner made 3 of 6 shots and finished with six points; Mayes had eight points.

"Mayes is a shooter," Hill said. "Josiah more likes to get to the rim. He gets fouled.

"We still try to get the ball up fast. Josiah's going to be more drive-prone. We have spurts where Jordin's really effective at the end. We've had matchups where Josiah's really effective at the end."

Miller liked the way the UA played in spurts.

"I hope there's bits and pieces - or four-minute stretches or eight-minute stretches - where you could foresee that being part of our future in a bigger way," he said.

Rim shots

• Fogg said the Wildcats pushed the ball up the floor faster after "coach really focused on that in practice" following the Gonzaga loss.

• Hamilton's teammates combined to score only two more baskets than he did; they combined to make 14 of 41 shots.

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