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Basketball Advances To Elite Eight With 79-78 Win Over Oklahoma State
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/25/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By RICK GANO AP Sports Writer

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) _ Give the ball to Salim Stoudamire and get out of his way. That's what Arizona did Thursday night.

Stoudamire hit an off-balance jumper from the left side with 2.8 seconds left, sending Arizona to a thrilling 79-78 victory over Oklahoma State in the Chicago Regional semifinals and within one win of the Final Four.

When John Lucas' last-ditch attempt went off the rim at the buzzer, the Wildcats had another memorable victory under coach Lute Olson.

Arizona (30-6) will meet top-seeded Illinois on Saturday for a trip to St. Louis. The Illini (34-1) defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee 77-63 Thursday.

Stoudamire scored 10 of his 19 points in the final 4:35 of the game and the Wildcats shot 66 percent (31-of-47).

Scoreless in the second half until six minutes remained, Stoudamire drove for a basket and then hit two NBA-range 3-pointers to get Arizona within 76-75.

After a defensive stop, Arizona's Channing Frye hit a short jumper, putting the Wildcats ahead 77-76 with a minute to go.

Joey Graham, who led Oklahoma State (26-7) with 26 points, then drove to the middle, lowered his shoulder and dropped in a short shot from the lane to give OSU its last lead at 78-77 with 18.8 seconds left.

After a timeout, Stoudamire waved his hand to clear out the floor and then maneuvered past Daniel Bobik and popped in a jumper from the left side, putting the Wildcats up 79-78 with 2.8 seconds left.

``I knew when it came down to crunch time I was going to step up,'' Stoudamire said. ``I practice that shot everyday. Coach is always on me about going hard, I guess it paid off.''

Arizona had a foul to give, cutting the clock to 1.3 seconds, but the Cowboys still managed to get off a decent shot. But Lucas' attempt from the corner hit the rim, denying coach Eddie Sutton a second straight trip to the Final Four.

``When I let it go, I thought it was going in,'' Lucas said. ``When it hit the back of the rim my heart just dropped. This is my last time wearing an Oklahoma State jersey. It's just a real sad moment.

Olson is now 3-0 against Sutton, his fellow 700-victory club member, but this was their first meeting ever in the NCAA tournament.

Saddled with two early fouls, Stoudamire played just 10 first-half minutes, but when the game seemed to be slipping away, he was there at the end.

Hassan Adams also finished with 19 points and had 10 rebounds for Arizona, and Frye added 15 points and 10 boards.

Graham, who'd scored just 15 points total in his team's first two tournament games, was a different player Thursday night, but it still wasn't enough.

JamesOn Curry and Graham hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Cowboys overcame an early seven-point second-half deficit to lead 52-51.

But the persistent Adams connected on his third 3-pointer and then followed up his own miss on the second try to put the Wildcats up 59-56, a lead that went to five when Frye hit a short jumper.

Graham hit a pair of 3-pointers and Stephen Graham made a three-point to give the Cowboys a 69-65 lead.

Stoudamire drove for a basket and after a 3-pointer by Curry he answered with one from NBA range, cutting the Cowboys lead to 72-70 with 3:57 left.

Adams scored 10 first-half points, took charge of the Wildcats' offense with Stoudamire on the bench with two fouls and put Arizona up at the break 41-38 by hitting a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Arizona shot 70 percent in the first half, making 16 of 23 shots and built an early 10-point lead.

``We take great pride in our defense,'' Sutton said. ``Tonight, they just shot lights out.''

But with Stoudamire off the floor earlier, the Cowboys took off on an 11-3 run, tying the game at 30-30 as Lucas and Ivan McFarlin hit back-to-back three-point plays and then taking a lead on two free throws by Graham.

Stoudamire, who had five 3-pointers and 28 points in second-round victory over UAB, came out firing.

He hit a pair of long-range '3s,' banked in another basket and the Wildcats also got three field goals from Ivan Radenovic to jump out 21-11 eight minutes into the game.

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