Fresno State

Arizona turns on its switch, dumps 'Dogs

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Fresno State contained freshman Jerryd Bayless as long as it could.

Then the first 10 minutes of Sunday's nonconference men's basketball game at No. 21 Arizona passed, and Bayless scored his first points, the beginnings of a 69-50 victory against the Bulldogs at the McKale Center.

Bayless switched from point guard to shooting guard, and Arizona interim coach Kevin O'Neill inserted Nic Wise to run the offense. Bayless, Arizona's leading scorer, took advantage, running around the floor for open shots. His first came on a midrange jumper.

After Jordan Hill's jump shot midway through the first half gave Fresno State its first deficit, Bayless found space on the perimeter and converted a 3-pointer. He added an alley-oop from Wise a minute later, igniting the crowd of 13,501 fans.

"My teammates kept getting the ball to me," said Bayless, who scored a game-high 31 points, including four 3-pointers. "I thought I got the shots in the rhythm of our offense, and KO [O'Neill] called more plays for me."

While Bayless continued to make plays, Fresno State, debuting its motion offense, lost momentum. The Bulldogs started missing open shots, resulting in a scoring drought that lasted nearly the final 6 minutes of the first half. They scored a season-low 18 points before halftime, and fell behind by 16.

"In these kinds of games, we can't stop scoring," said senior Hector Hernandez, who shot 3 of 10 on 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

Bryan Harvey also struggled for the second consecutive game, scoring nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. He also had three turnovers.

Hernandez and Kevin Bell, who scored a team-high 12 points, were the only double-digit scorers for Fresno State (5-5), loser of its past two games. Arizona (7-2) won its fourth in a row.

The Bulldogs started better than they did during an 84-71 loss to UNLV on Dec. 8. Still, upsetting Arizona generally requires shooting better than 33 percent from the field and 37 percent on 3-pointers.

"We hit a lot of good shots early, but we've got to learn to keep that up," said Bell, who shot 5 of 14. "We've got to learn how to adjust and start taking it to the rack and get to the line, just to slow the ball down."

Bell attempted all three of Fresno State's free throws, making one.

Before the game, Bulldogs coach Steve Cleveland said he would not judge his team's performance by the final score, but by the players' effort, which at times has infuriated him. Cleveland said he saw the intensity he demanded, and the shot selection, but not the points.

"We had good action, it just didn't result in made baskets," he said.

Fresno State was outscored 18-7 to open the second half and trailed by as much as 29 midway through.

Chase Budinger scored 16 points for the Wildcats, and Jordan Hill added 15.

Arizona played its second game without coach Lute Olson, who won a national championship at Arizona in 1997 and has guided the Wildcats to four Final Fours. On Dec. 6, the Hall of Fame coach announced he would extend his leave of absence through the end of the season, citing personal matters.

Fresno State played its first game since the athletic department dismissed senior Rekalin Sims for violating undisclosed student-athlete rules of conduct. Sims is stillremains under investigation by the Fresno County dDistrict aAttorney's oOffice, which is deciding whether it willto refile felonyrobbery charges stemming from a Nov. 11 arrest.

The challenges decrease for Fresno State, which hosts Presbyterian College on Thursday at the Save Mart Center followed by Pacific on Saturday.

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