Quick react: Arizona Wildcats drop Valpo 73-64 to open season

Kyle Fogg led the team with 16 points in the Arizona Wildcats' season opening 73-64 win against the Valparaiso Crusaders, and the Wildcats got off to a semi-successful start to the 2011-12 season.

Fogg, who had struggled mightily in two exhibition games, got support across the board as the Wildcats struggled early and made a second-half push that gave them enough cushion to keep the Crusaders at bay. Leading 32-30 at the half, a 12-0 spurt midway through the second half led by sophomore back-up point Jordin Mayes built a 45-33 Arizona lead that Valpo couldn't overcome.

In the end, the veterans showed improvement and a building sense of ownership for this Arizona team trying to find its identity.

Jesse Perry was all over the court and added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Mayes and forward Solomon Hill added eight apiece and freshman starting point guard Josiah Turner contributed seven.

But showing he's the most capable of the four newcomers was shooting guard Nick Johnson. He tallied the 25 minutes that head coach Sean Miller was hoping to give him, and he scored 14 points and led the team with six assists in a quietly savvy first NCAA game.

There were other developments as well.

Freshman big Angelo Chol continued to make a case for stealing more minutes, if not the starting center spot, from Kyryl Natyazhko. Both struggled with foul trouble, but Chol seemed to make more plays, stepping in front of interior entry passes and using his length to alter shots and passes in fastbreak situations. Chol ended the game with six rebounds and four steals.

Meanwhile, the point guard spot similarly appears to not be a lock for Turner. While he didn't necessary make bad decisions, he doesn't have the chemistry with any one player -- not enough to take advantage of his passing abilities.

That makes Mayes' ability to shoot all the more important. Mayes scored all eight of his points in just a few minutes -- that was when Arizona pulled away for a double-digit lead.

But all in all, the win was just another step in the right direction for Miller's squad. Now that we're beginning to see a framework for a rotation, the Wildcats can continue their development of roles for the veterans and increased confidence for the freshmen seeing playing time.

Granted, it's hard to judge against Valparaiso, who from the naked eye looked less talented and less athletic than Humboldt State.

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