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January 12, 2013

No. 4 Wildcats bounce back in Corvallis

For the first time in four Pac-12 Conference games, fourth-ranked Arizona was able to breathe easy in the final seconds.

Coming off their first loss of the season, the Wildcats put four scorers in double figures and received a spark off the bench Saturday to bounce back and defeat Oregon State, 80-70, at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore.

Ahead by eight at the half but struggling on defense, Arizona (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12) tightened up to pull away for its easiest victory in league play thus far. The previous three games went down to the wire in regulation, including one overtime victory.

The Wildcats needed just 3 minutes to push the advantage to double digits. A 7-2 burst highlighted by one of Solomon Hill's five 3-pointers with 9:42 to play then stretched the lead to 67-50 - its largest of the game.

The Beavers (10-6, 0-3 Pac-12) cut the deficit to 10 with 16.1 seconds to play, but it was far too late. OSU has lost three consecutive games to open conference play for the first time in five seasons.

Hill and Mark Lyons tied for team-high honors with 16 points, Nick Johnson added 14 and Brandon Ashley chipped in 12 for the Wildcats - who shot 47.5 percent from the field. Arizona connected on 10 long-range baskets and shot 40 percent against the Pac-12's best defense beyond the arc.

Opponents were shooting just 30.3 percent against OSU entering the contest.

Defensively, freshman Grant Jerrett accounted for six of the Wildcats' nine blocks - a career high - and added eight points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Ahmad Starks scored a game-high 18 points for the Beavers, who also put four scorers in double figures. However, OSU shot just 39.3 percent - including a 13-of-33 effort in the second half.

To start the game, the Wildcats came out firing and converted their first three 3-point attempts.

OSU, meanwhile, made just 11 of 28 shots but managed to remain competitive throughout the half. The Beavers went to the free-throw line 18 times and asserted themselves in the paint for 16 of their first-half points.

On top of it, UA continued its Jekyll and Hyde act in the turnover department. The 'Cats turned it over 10 times, leading to 12 Beavers points. Arizona settled down a bit in the second half and finished with 16.

A plus-10 advantage on the boards - including nine offensive rebounds - and four 3-pointers from Hill kept Arizona in the lead for most of the half. Leading 34-33, the Wildcats closed the final 2:33 on a 9-2 run to take a 43-35 advantage into halftime.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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