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Arizona Defeats Michigan, 61-60; Advances to N.I.T. Championship Game
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/25/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By HAL BOCK AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lute Olson paced in front of his bench all night, obviously frustrated with his team.

In the end, though, his Madison Square Garden streak remained intact.

Olson's winning streak at the arena stretched to 11 games Wednesday night when No. 18 Arizona squeezed past Michigan 61-60 in overtime in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT. The run began for the Hall of Fame coach when he was coaching Long Beach State and beat LIU on Dec. 15, 1973.

``A long time ago,'' Olson said.

There have been 17 consecutive 20-win seasons at Arizona and a national championship in 1997 as well as three Preseason NIT titles but all that is history. His current Wildcats came in off a loss at Virginia and a tumble in the rankings from No. 11 to No. 18. They did little Wednesday night to improve their image.

``If you defend well, you still have a chance to win,'' Olson said. It was certainly not a pretty game to watch. There was some serious defense played on both ends.''

Arizona shot just 31.4 percent for the game, not exactly impressive. Olson knows there's work to be done, starting with his offense.

``We need to shoot the ball better,'' he said.

Dion Harris' basket with 51 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 55 for Michigan, and the game stretched into overtime when both teams missed late opportunities because of sloppy ballhandling.

In the extra period, Chris Hunter gave Michigan the lead, but Arizona battled back, tying it on a pair of free throws by Channing Frye and then moving ahead on a foul shot by Mustafa Shakur and a basket by Jawann McClellan.

Michigan got into it again on free throws by Harris, Daniel Horton and Hunter. The Wolverines had the ball and a chance to win, but Horton's shot missed, and Arizona (3-1) survived.

``We're disappointed,'' Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. ``We battled very hard, and we played a scrappy, tough game against a scrappy, tough team. I'm sure it wasn't a very pretty game at times.''

The victory sent the Wildcats into Friday night's championship game against No. 1 Wake Forest, which defeated Providence 79-67 in Wednesday night's opener. Michigan plays Providence in the consolation game.

Olson coached Arizona to Preseason NIT titles in 1990, `95 and `99. Now he gets a shot for a fourth against the top-ranked team in the country.

Michigan seemed prepared to break open the game against Arizona, running off 10 straight points midway through the first half, capitalizing on mistakes by the Wildcats to take a 21-11 lead. But Ivan Radenovic and McClellan brought Arizona back, and by halftime Michigan's lead was down to 27-25.

Michigan managed just four offensive rebounds in the first half while Arizona had 15 and a 27-18 overall edge on the boards. That helped the Wildcats overcome some poor shooting in the first 20 minutes, when they made just 23.7 percent of their shots, compared to 42.3 for the Wolverines.

Shakur led Arizona with 13 points, and Radenovic had 12 and 10 rebounds. Horton scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half for Michigan, while Harris led the Wolverines with 16.

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