Budinger, Arizona rally from big deficit to down Texas A&MDec 3, 2007 - 4:28 AM TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Chase Budinger showed that a poor first half does not necessarily sink Arizona at home.
Budinger scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half as the Wildcats rallied from a 20-point deficit en route to a 78-67 victory over No. 9 Texas A&M in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series on Sunday.
Freshman Jerryd Bayless had a season-high 26 points and Jordan Hill added 13 for Arizona (5-2), which shot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in the second half, including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers.
"Texas A&M is a very good basketball team," Arizona interim coach Kevin O'Neill said. "They're legit. I really admire them. Our guys did a great job defending them and coming back tonight."
Early on, Arizona appeared destined for another loss to a Big 12 Conference squad this season after an overtime loss at Kansas last week as Texas A&M went on a 17-1 run inside the opening nine minutes.
That deficit eventually grew to 32-12 when the Aggies freshman Nathan Walkup hit a 3-pointer with 6:46 left in the opening half.
"It was partly my fault (on falling behind in the game)," O'Neill said. "We came out too conservative and when we got down 20 I told our team 'let's cut it to 10 by the half.'"
Bayless obliged, hitting a jumper and a 3-pointer and converting two free throws in the closing 4 1/2 minutes to spark a 16-6 run that worked the Wildcats' deficit down to 12 points at the break.
"Jerryd got us on his shoulders and carried us," O'Neill said. "He has gotten better every game we have played, and tonight he played well on and off the ball."
Budinger helped continue the charge after intermission, sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers around a shot from the arc by teammate Jawann McClellan to cap a 17-4 run that put Arizona ahead, 51-47, with 12:11 remaining.
Although Texas A&M (7-1) came back to take the lead on three more occasions, Arizona put the game out of reach when a 3-pointer by McClellan with six minutes left ignited a 12-4 burst for a 71-64 advantage with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
While the crowd was against them in the tough loss at Kansas, the Arizona players credited the 14,598 fans for helping them rally to beat a ranked team at home for the first time in seven games dating back to last season.
"I thought our crowd was outstanding, especially the student section," O'Neill said.
"In Kansas, we saw how much their players fed off the crowd so we wanted to get our fans in the game and make it tough for the Texas A&M," Bayless said.
Bayless finished 7-of-12 from the field with two 3-pointers and handed out six assists. Budinger added three shots from the arc for the Wildcats, who went 7-of-12 from long range.
Josh Carter had 17 points and Joseph Jones added 13 for the Aggies, who shot just 34.5 percent (10-of-29) after the break to absorb their first loss.
- BIG 12/PAC-10 HARDWOOD SERIES
NCAA BB BIG 12/PAC-10 HARDWOOD SERIES
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
TEXAS A&M (9) 40 27 67
ARIZONA 28 50 78 FINAL
Dec 2 8:01 PM
- BIG 12/PAC-10 HARDWOOD SERIES
NCAA BB (9) TEXAS A&M 40
ARIZONA 28 HALFTIME
Dec 2 6:46 PM
- Pitts transferring from Arizona May 17
- Arizona guard Allonzo Trier returning for sophomore season Apr 4
- Arizona's Justin Simon transferring after 1 season Mar 28
- No chance for a wild comeback for Aggies in 77-63 loss to OU Mar 25
- Hield, Sooners face former Big 12 foes Aggies in Sweet 16 Mar 24
- House leading the party at Texas A&M into Sweet 16 Mar 22
- Texas A&M downs N Iowa with historic last-minute comeback Mar 21
- Experienced Panthers eager to carry momentum forward Mar 19
- Arizona falters against Wichita State, loses 65-55 Mar 18
- Texas A&M aims for respect in first NCAA tourney since 2011 Mar 17
- Wichita State ready to keep rolling, faces Arizona Mar 16
- Texas A&M announces new 5-year deal for coach Billy Kennedy Mar 12