Jan 11, 2003
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Wildcats' best shooter still isn't in shape. His shot is falling, though.
Salim Stoudamire matched his season-high with 23 points and No. 2 Arizona went on an 18-4 second-half run to remain unbeaten in the Pac-10 with a 79-61 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (11-1, 4-0) are off to their best conference start in three years, but this week's home victories over Washington State and Washington were struggles. In both games, Arizona didn't shake its opponent until a big run midway through the second half.
Coach Lute Olson said he's through preaching about getting off to a better start.
"I have said to them `We can't talk anymore about things,'" Olson said. "It is their job to get it done."
Stoudamire, last year's Pac-10 freshman of the year, had been slowed by a lingering ankle sprain that limited his practice time.
"That's something I've been wanting to do (run the point). I feel I can play point, and I feel I can help the team when I play point."
"The conditioning is still not there," he said. "At times, I was exhausted. My legs felt like Jell-O."
Stoudamire was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and the rest of the Wildcats were 0-for-7. Stoudamire was 8-for-8 at the foul line; his teammates were 10-for-22.
"He really did a nice job at the point, too," Olson said. "He took good care of the ball, he drew fouls and he knocked free throws down."
Stoudamire is playing more at point guard to give Gardner more rest.
"That's something I've been wanting to do," Stoudamire said. "I feel I can play point, and I feel I can help the team when I play point."
Washington (6-7, 1-3) lost its 13th consecutive game in the state of Arizona. The Huskies have been swept at Arizona State and Arizona 13 times in their last 14 visits and are 2-29 in their last 31 games in the state.
But first year-coach Lorenzo Romar's team played far better than it did in a 32-point loss at Arizona State on Thursday night.
A 12-2 run put the Wildcats up 64-48 when Andre Iguodala made one of two free throws with 6:54 remaining as Washington went 5˝ minutes without a field goal.
The outburst reached 18-4 on Stoudamire's two free throws that made it 70-50 with 4:59 remaining.
Olson earned his 266th Pac-10 victory to tie Hec Edmondson of Washington on the all-time list. Only UCLA's John Wooden (304) and Oregon State's Slats Gill (276) had more.
Washington's Doug Wrenn, who scored 35 points at McKale Center last year, managed just 11 before fouling out with 7:07 remaining. Nate Robinson also scored 11 for the Huskies.
For the second straight game, the Wildcats got off to a sluggish start against a team they were supposed to dominate. The players know it's a problem.
"We need to stop doing that, but we did it again," Arizona forward Luke Walton said. "We need to start coming out and jumping on people."
Arizona scored the final six points of the half to go up 37-28. Gardner scored the first four in the run, then tipped an offensive rebound to Hassan Adams, who hit a 10-footer with one second to play to give Arizona its nine-point halftime lead.
After their big flop at Arizona State, the Huskies came out with intensity.
"I think our attitude in the first half was great," Anthony Washington of the Huskies said. "We had them right where we wanted them, and we had a chance to win."
The Wildcats widened the lead to 52-40 on Rick Anderson's steal that led to Adams' breakaway dunk with 13:40 to play. But again Washington rallied with a 6-0 spurt to cut it to 52-46 on the 5-foot-8 Robinson's high-arching 15-footer with 11:54 to go.
Entering the game, Arizona led the Pac-10 in rebounding and Washington was last, but the Wildcats barely outrebounded the Huskies 37-35.
"We lost the rebounding by two," Romar said, "but that's the closest we have come since the start of the Pac-10."