TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)—Arizona forward Marcus Williams shrugged off his contribution after scoring a career-high 27 points in the 10th-ranked Wildcats’ 83-72 victory over Oregon State on Thursday night.
“I was able to get in the right spot at the right time, and my teammates were able to find me,” Williams said. “I was able to knock some shots down that I’m supposed to knock down.”
And the Wildcats (13-2, 4-1 Pac-10) won a game they were supposed to win, handing the skidding Beavers (8-9, 0-4) their fourth straight loss. Although they played sloppily for stretches in the second half, the Wildcats bounced back from an overtime defeat at Washington State on Saturday.
The game wasn’t pretty, and neither was the aftermath. Moments after the final horn, Oregon State senior center Kyle Jeffers had a confrontation with a fan and was briefly detained by police.
Oregon State coach Jay John followed Jeffers and officers into a room off the court. Jeffers later joined teammates in the locker room and did not speak to reporters. John said his player had not been arrested.
“I am just fighting for my guy,” John said. “I didn’t see what happened. I just saw my player being taken away. I wanted to see what is going on.”
Marcel Jones scored 26 points and Sasa Cuic added 16 to lead the Beavers, who have dropped 25 straight games in Tucson. The Beavers’ last win at McKale Center came in 1983, the year before Lute Olson arrived at Arizona.
It was the fourth 20-point game in five starts for Williams, who also had eight rebounds. Thursday night’s outburst gave him the team scoring lead at 17.4 points per game, .6 ahead of forward Ivan Radenovic.
Chase Budinger added 16 points and 10 rebounds. At halftime, Williams, a sophomore, and Budinger, a freshman, had outscored Oregon State 30-27.
“I am not trying to jinx or voodoo on coach Olson and the program, but I doubt seriously they are going to be around for four years,” said John, a former Olson assistant at Arizona. “I was here (at Arizona) when Richard Jefferson was a freshman. At this point, from an offensive standpoint, Chase is ahead.”
The Wildcats improved to 9-0 at home this year. But they had plenty of reasons to be unhappy with the performance.
Arizona, whose 41.2 percent 3-point shooting leads the Pac-10, shot only 16.7 percent (3-for-18) from beyond the arc, its lowest of the season.
And Arizona’s bench contributed little, aside from forward Fendi Onobun, who scored a season-high seven points and had three rebounds in six minutes. The starters seemed to wear down in the second half; after leading by as many as 22 points early in the second half, the Wildcats let the Beavers pull within nine with 2:59 to play.
Olson said he needs to get more from his bench, but he’s having trouble finding players who will give him what he needs.
“We’re going to have to cut back on some of the minutes for some of the starters because I’m not sure we can keep that kind of enthusiasm for that long,” Olson said.
Even though they let a big lead dwindle, the Wildcats were never in trouble against the Beavers. But the Wildcats know they’ll have to play a more complete game on Sunday night against 15th-ranked Oregon in McKale Center.
“It’s definitely going to be a big game,” Radenovic said. “It’s nice to have more time to prepare and to get rested for the game.”