May 15, 2002
CANBERRA, Australia - The University of Arizona men's basketball team was up to its old tricks again, as the Wildcats erased a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 101-99 win over the Canberra All-Stars Wednesday evening at Tuggeranong Southern Cross Stadium.
Trailing 79-67 entering the fourth quarter, Will Bynum and Luke Walton scored 20 of Arizona's 34 points in the final period to help the team earn the two-point win. Bynum hit two key buckets in the game's final 2:28 to propel the team to victory, including a trey with 34 seconds remaining that gave the team the lead for good.
The come-from-behind win came in the team's first game of a 10-game tour of Australia, and marked the team's seventh second half, come-from-behind victory dating back to the 2001-02 collegiate season.
"This was a good win for us tonight," said Arizona head coach Lute Olson, who acted as an observer in this contest. "It was obvious that we were a step slow in reacting to things due to the travel, but it was nice to see the guys make the effort and come from behind. Will and Luke were huge for us in the fourth quarter."
Facing a team comprised mostly of Australian N.B.A. and N.B.L. players, the Wildcats looked sluggish for most of the evening, especially on the glass. The All-Stars outrebounded UA, 35-23, in the first half, including a 17-4 advantage on the offensive glass. Arizona also committed 12 first-half turnovers, which helped put the team in a 53-47 deficit at the half.
Simply put, Arizona needed to do a better job on the boards and take care of the ball in the second half if it was going to have a chance to win. That's exactly what happened, as the squad posted a 35-17 rebound advantage in the second half and limited Canberra to just three offensive boards after the break.
"We told the guys to just relax and do their jobs in the second half," said assistant coach Rodney Tention, who handled the head coaching duties Wednesday night. "Once we rebounded and took care of the ball, we were able to do some good things in there."
Despite some positive efforts early in the second stanza, Arizona still found itself down by 12 points with just 12 minutes remaining. Keyed by a Walton three-point play, Arizona opened the decisive fourth quarter on a 14-0 run to get back in the game. All told, UA held Canberra without a field goal for 5:12. A Bynum trey at the 8:23 mark gave Arizona its first lead of the game at 81-79.
From there the game see-sawed back and forth for the next six minutes with the All-Stars actually taking a 95-93 lead with 3:32 to go before Bynum answered with a layup to tie the score.
It was another positive step for Bynum, who finished with a team-high 21 points and felt good about logging 28 minutes and helping to make a difference in the outcome. "For me, it's all about playing," he said. "It felt good to know that I was going to get some minutes and Coach Tention allowed me to have a little freedom and to feel comfortable out there. Hitting those shots late, especially the jumpers, sure felt good."
Arizona returns to the court on Thurs., May 16, against the Sturt Sabres. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Pasadena Stadium in Adelaide, and the contest is sold out.