Do not adjust your set. the Cats are in control of the vertical, they are also in control of the horizontal and for all intents and purposes, for now they are in control of the Pac 10 race. Wazzu gave them their best shot as Ken Bone's lads played the full game and never rolled over. Klay Thompson found his shooting touch (he poured in 30)and yet it still wasn't enough. Coach Miller's gang persevered to a 79-70 win that showed that the Cats could keep their poise even stacked up against someone with a hot hand and gut out a win. Derrick Williams is showing signs of his finger sprain recovering as he led the Cats in scoring and with rebounds.
Tonight's game was another test to see if the Cats are worthy of second season consideration. Many national pundits see the Pac 10 as continuing to be a train wreck this year and with the lack of marquis wins outside the conference, they could well be right. The problem is, those games are played in November and December and as we've seen, young teams can still grow up quite a bit throughout the season. I suspect that is what we're seeing with our Wildcats. The turnovers are coming down, the defensive consistency is starting to manifest itself as the season goes along. We're also seeing that the Cats are more than willing to share the load and the spotlight. It isn't that Derrick Williams isn't out best player, he is. The development is that any of the other players can step up at any time and be a viable scoring threat. The biggest question is who will it be. That pool of candidates isn't confined to the rest of the starting five, as we've already witnessed by seeing Jordin Mayes, Jamelle Horne and Kevin Parrom offer significant help in scoring from the bench.
The team is almost assured of a post season bid excepting a complete collapse down the stretch. With three of the next five at home, the prospects of that don't appear to be likely. Still, The Huskies will be more than ready to assert themselves and I believe that UCLA and USC have to feel confident in their home gyms, as they should be. If the Cats manage to hold serve on the home court, that will go a long way to exorcising the disappointment of last year and provide a boost that the Zona Zoo should take pride in, establishing McKale as the toughest place to play in the Pac 10. The crowd seems poised to rise to the challenge, sustaining the noise during the entire game will be the next task.
Last night's game was won in the first four minute segment when the Cats stretched themselves out to a nine point lead and kept the Cougars at bay for the rest of the game. Yes Wazzu made multiple efforts to bring it to within a couple of scores, but the Cats bounced back and prevented any prolonged stretches where the Cougars could sustain that momentum. There was always a defensive stop, a big bucket or a drawn foul that kept the Cats in control. The Cats are showing an unexpected maturity to their game as we see the players continue to look for and work for each other. The amount of bad shots, you know, the ones that "don't feel right", as in the improper shot in the flow of the game; are being dramatically eliminated from the team as they run their offensive set. Credit for that has to go to the guards, both the starters and the fellas from the bench as the team is not wasting many opportunities when it comes to executing the game plan.
Inside the box score
Derrick Williams (26), Lamont Jones (10) and Solomon Hill (12) were in double digits for scoring. The leading rebounder was Dwill with 8. The bench scoring was down a bit this game, but Jamelle Horne, Jordin Mayes and Kevin Parrom all lodged double digits in minutes. The Cougars did a good job on the Cats outside shooting as they only went 5-17 (29%) but the Cats were exemplary at the stripe shooting 24 of 26 for a sizzling 92% (Williams was a perfect 12 for 12).