Wise's big second half helps Arizona rout San Diego St.Dec 23, 2007 - 1:59 AM TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Nic Wise waited until the second half to make a big splash.
Wise scored a season-high 12 points - all in the second half - as No. 19 Arizona cruised past San Diego State, 74-58, on Saturday.
Jordan Hill had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger scored 15 and 13, respectively, for the Wildcats (9-2), who have won a season-high five straight games.
"I think we're developing a little bit of a camaraderie on the defensive end, a little pride that makes you keep playing hard," interim coach Kevin O'Neill said.
Arizona is playing its best basketball under O'Neill at just the right time. Next Saturday, the Wildcats will meet their toughest foe when they travel to No. 2 Memphis, which knocked off No. 4 Georgetown, 85-71, earlier Saturday.
The 5-9 Wise, who was scoreless at the half, made his presence felt when the Wildcats needed him most.
Hill had given Arizona a 36-26 lead on a dunk just 41 seconds into the second half, but a layup by Billy White cut San Diego State's deficit to 42-38 at the 14:47 mark.
However, the Wildcats outscored the Aztecs, 17-10, over the next 7 1/2 minutes, capped by Wise's second straight 3-pointer.
"I have to knock those shots down to take the pressure off Chase and Jerryd," Wise said.
Hill dunked and made a free throw with 5:30 remaining to keep Arizona's lead in double figures at 64-52 before the sophomore Wise, who was 5-of-7 from the floor, made consecutive baskets to help extend the lead to 70-54 with 2:51 left to put the game away.
For Hill, it was his third double-double in the last four games.
"When I step on the court, I just think that no big man can stop me," Hill said. "I know that I'm hard to stop, so I'm just going to go out there and do what I have to do."
"This is Jordan's first time starting (regularly) and being an accountable player," O'Neill said. "And because of that, it's taken him a while to get his feet on the ground. But all in all, he's making some progress that is badly needed for us."
The Wildcats, who shot 54 percent (32-of-59), made 19-of-32 (59 percent) from the field in the second half to pull away.
Kyle Spain had 20 points and eight rebounds and Ryan Amoroso added 11 and eight for the Aztecs (9-3), who have lost the last six to the Wildcats and have dropped 13 of 14 meetings in the series here.
"We didn't shoot well," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "I don't know if it was them or us. We just couldn't hit shots."
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