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Arizona’s Williams comes home to play Duke
Question of the Day
ANAHEIM, CALIF. (AP) - One of the last times Derrick Williams came home to play basketball, things didn’t go well for Arizona.
The Wildcats arrived in Los Angeles with a two-game lead in the Pac-10 standings and got swept by Southern California and UCLA. Williams scored a season-low eight points against the Trojans before rebounding with 15 points against the Bruins.
The Wildcats hung on in their final two games to win the league’s regular-season title and Williams was named Pac-10 player of the year.
Now, the sophomore from La Mirada is close to home again, this time for the biggest game of his college career.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats (29-7) play the top-seeded Blue Devils (32-4) in the NCAA West Regional on Thursday at Honda Center.
Williams was besieged with ticket requests, although he’ll only be able to satisfy his family.
“Not that many people have that much money to spend on a 40-minute game, but a lot of people will be at a pizza place, someplace that has a lot of TVs, gather around and watch the games right there,” he said.
The Wildcats practiced Wednesday at Williams‘ old high school in La Mirada, 15 minutes from the Orange County arena.
“Going back to my high school brought back a lot of memories,” he said. “My senior season we won the league championship. That was the best thing my school has had basketball-wise, first time since ‘82 that we had a league championship.”
Another Arizona starter, Kyle Fogg, grew up 10 minutes away in Brea, while reserve Alex Jacobson is from nearby Santa Ana. Jordin Mayes and starter Solomon Hill are both from Los Angeles.
“It’s good to be home, but we’re here for business right now,” Fogg said.
And Arizona’s goal is to knock off the defending national champions, whose .762 winning percentage in the NCAA tournament is the best ever.
“It’s never to your advantage going against them in this tournament,” second-year Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
He should know. As a Xavier assistant under Thad Matta, Miller saw the Blue Devils beat the Musketeers by three points to earn a spot in the 2004 Final Four.
“Can we match their intensity and effort level, not for part of the game or not after the first four minutes when we get used to them, but from start to finish?” Miller said. “That’s our only chance.”
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