Lanny Smith fights off Wildcat defenders. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)
Jan. 12, 2008
HOUSTON (AP) -- Jerryd Bayless scored a career-high 33 and sank a school-record 18 free throws in his first game back from a sprained right knee to lead Arizona to an 85-71 win over Houston on Saturday.
The Wildcats (11-5) lost three of the four games Bayless missed after injuring his knee in practice Dec. 28. The freshman point guard showed no ill effects, constantly driving past Houston defenders for layups or drawing fouls on the Cougars' big men.
Bayless went 18-for-20 from the line, passing the previous record of 17 made free throws by Miles Simon in 1998. Bayless also had five rebounds and matched a career high with nine assists.
The Cougars made just five of 22 from 3-point range (23 percent), far below their 37 percent season average.
Houston was off-target from the start, missing 13 of its first 18 shots, including its first six 3-point attempts. McKiver missed his first five shots, then swished a 3-pointer with 9:17 left in the half to cut Arizona's lead to 19-17.
The Wildcats preserved their lead by attacking the smaller Cougars inside. Bayless drove for a layup, then went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final 3:40 of the first half to help the Wildcats take a 38-33 lead.
Arizona opened the second half with a 13-4 burst. Bayless cut inside for another layup, threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Chase Budinger for a dunk, then sank a 3-pointer to put Arizona up 51-37.
Bayless fearlessly drove to the basket again on Arizona's next two possessions, got fouled and converted all four free throws. He assisted on 3-pointers by Budinger and Nic Wise as the Wildcats pulled away. Bayless sank a long jumper with 12:55 left to stretch the lead to 63-44.
Houston answered with an 11-0 run as the Wildcats suddenly started missing shots and committing turnovers. Nixon's putback with 8:57 left cut Arizona's lead to 63-55.
Out of an Arizona time out, Bayless sank two free throws after getting smacked on another drive down the lane. The Wildcats stayed in control from there, and Jordan Hill finished off the Cougars with two powerful dunks in the closing minutes.
Arizona played without forward Bret Brielmaier, who did not travel to Houston after injuring his right shoulder against Arizona State on Wednesday.
Houston honored former coach Guy Lewis at halftime. The 85-year-old Lewis was inducted into the newly founded College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City last November. UH also recognized all five of his NCAA Final Four teams in the second half.