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December 18, 2012
Arizona head coach Sean Miller said before the season that the Wildcats' practices had a different freshman star for the better part of the summer.
First-year forward Grant Jerrett had his moments in the preseason but had not quite put it all together when the games started to count.
That is, until this week.
Three nights removed from appearing in the closing moments of thrilling win over a then-No. 5 Florida team, the 6-10 sharpshooter helped the No. 4 Wildcats roll to a 89-64 victory over Oral Roberts Tuesday at McKale Center.
Jerrett scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench.
"I just wanted to stay aggressive and stay confident when I catch the ball," said Jerrett, who made all three of his 3-pointers. "I just try to make the simple play."
Mark Lyons poured in a team-high 17, Brandon Ashley chipped in 14, and Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill added 12 apiece for Arizona (9-0), which shot 57.6 percent from the field and connected on 8-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Lyons also added a game-high seven assists.
Warren Niles paced Oral Roberts (5-5) with a game-high 22 points but he also committed eight of the team's 20 turnovers.
Hill said it was important that the 'Cats were able to move past the emotional high of the comeback win over the Gators.
"If you want to be labeled as a great team or a team that has a chance to win a national championship, you have to get over games like the Florida game," Hill said.
The Wildcats used an inspiring defensive effort and 63 percent shooting to build a 14-point halftime lead.
UA connected on five of its first six shots and forced five turnovers to jump out to a 12-4 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
Shawn Glover kept the Golden Eagles close early, pulling the visitors to within 18-12 with 12:34 remaining in the half. But a Jerret 3-pointer on the next possession sparked an 8-3 spurt that took the Wildcats' lead up to double digits.
With under 8 to play, Kaleb Tarczewski was rewarded for running the floor and put down an emphatic slam in transition to run the advantage up to 28-15.
After already establishing his presence from beyond the arc with a trio of 3-pointers, Lyons put the spring in his legs to use with less than 2 minutes to play in the half. On a feed from Jordin Mayes, the 6-1 guard soared for a highlight-reel alley-oop that resulted in a technical foul for taunting.
But it re-energized the crowd and his own team. Inside the final 30 seconds, the Wildcats came up with blocks on three consecutive Oral Roberts attempts and Johnson raced down for a rainbow bucket inside five feet with 10 ticks left.
Niles' jump shot just before the buzzer cut the Arizona lead to 45-31 heading into the locker room.
The Wildcats then opened the second half on an 11-0 run, capped by a Jerrett 3-pointer to lead by as many as 25, and the Golden Eagles never pulled closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Two areas Miller would still like to see improvement in, however, are protecting the ball and defending the 3-point line. UA turned the ball over 17 times and allowed Oral Roberts to sink 6 of 12 from long range.
"Just decisions," Miller said of the turnovers. "Make the simple play, take care of the ball."
Also glaring for the fourth-year head coach was the lack of an offensive rebound in the first 20 minutes, but the team responded to collect eight in the second half. For the game, UA owned a 37-27 edge on the boards.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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