Arizona Basketball

Très Bien: Baker cooked up a heck of night for the Wildcats

Game 3 was all about the 3 by, um, No. 3.

Tres Bien!

Arizona can thank junior guard Jemarl Baker – No. 3 in the program – for helping make quick and easy work of Northern Arizona on Monday night. UA won 96-53 in McKale Center.

UA is, um, 3-0.

Baker had a game of a lifetime, scoring a career-high 33 (of course) points, hitting seven consecutive 3-pointers before missing (more on that later)

“I felt really good out there,” he said. “The last couple of games my shot wasn’t really falling but I wanted to stay aggressive. The coaches kept telling me to stay aggressive. They were able to fall tonight.”

Jemarl Baker takes one of his success 3-pointers vs. NAU (Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics/Michael Christy)

Boy, did they fall. Not since Gabe York hit nine treys in a game has UA’s McKale Center been lit up like that. The seven consecutive makes tied Jawaan McClellan’s record of seven straight makes.

His first three came with 16:10 left in the first half. His last with 17:29 left in the game.

“I knew I was feeling good after the first shot went in,” he said. “I started the game off early with a layup and that felt good as well.”

It was a feel-good night for Arizona, which is grateful for just playing the game. In today’s world of COVID-19, any game is welcome. This one came against a team that made its season debut Monday night. What a night for a coming out party, right?

Arizona went 13 for 22 from beyond the arc with Baker doing the most damage.

“I’m just getting more into a rhythm and hopefully I can continue to grow,” Baker said. “Hopefully, I can have more nights like this.”
Sean Miller would like that as well.

“He was lights out tonight,” Miller said. “He was terrific.”

He was so on point on Monday it reminded Miller of his last true sharpshooter in  York, who tied Salim Stoudamire’s school record of nine in 2016.

“Jemarl got red hot and his teammates did a great job of setting screens seeing that he was hot and getting him the ball,” Miller said. “… Jemarl for the two years that he’s been here has been as good of a consistent shooter every day as we’ve had. It hasn’t always translated into the games but it’s hard to be a really consistent shooter when he had the role that he had last year. To really get going shooting, you need opportunity. He has that. Quite frankly our team needs him.”

It needs that offensive confidence. And he was exactly that. It was the way he moved and his aggressiveness.

It was a night so good you wondered If he’d ever miss. It came to an end, and well, he kind of knew it would when he put up his eighth shot.

“I knew that one wasn’t going in,” he said, laughing. “I could feel it wasn’t. I wasn’t worried about missing that shot at all. I don’t worry about missing any shots.”

It was such a good night for Baker that he scored his 33rd point when he drove the lane,  avoided a defender and went behind the back to score the layup.

“It’s been a while (since he’s done that),” he said, “but that’s something I work on.”

And, oh, by the way, he finished with three steals and three rebounds.

 Of course, he did.

Be sure to catch Steve & Jay Gonzales on “Eye on the Ball” weekdays from 3-4 p.m. on Fox Sports 1450.

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