Jan 18, 2002
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Luke Walton is one of the best at making his teammates look good. On Thursday night, Walton was the one who shined.
The 6-foot-8 junior son of former NBA and UCLA great Bill Walton got his first career triple-double in No. 15 Arizona's 97-80 rout of No. 18 Southern California, the Trojans' first Pac-10 loss.
Walton had a career-high 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He also had four steals, a career-best four blocked shots and played the point in a stifling zone defense that befuddled the Trojans from the start.
"He does things you don't teach," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "It's in the genes. He has a great feel for the game. He also has a great feel for leadership, and it's always a positive thing. He really helps the young guys a lot with the approach that he takes to things."
Walton was 7-for-11 from the field and a career-high 13-of-15 at the foul line. As usual, Walton talked in terms of the team.
"This is the best we have played for a full 40 minutes," he said. "We showed people what we can do if we keep our energy up."
Salim Stoudamire scored 18 points, including 6-for-6 at the foul line. The freshman guard broke the Arizona record for consecutive free throws by running his streak to 35. He is 45-of-46 from the line this season. The old record of 29 in a row was by Dylan Rigdon in 1993-94.
The Trojans (13-3, 5-1) had won nine in a row and had never started the Pac-10 season 6-0, but they were out of this one in a hurry.
Arizona led by as many as 27 points in the first half and by 31 in the second. A 17-7 run to finish the game got Trojans within 17.
Sam Clancy scored 30 points for USC, one short of his career-high. Desmon Farmer added 13 and Gennaro Busterna had 10 for the Trojans, who shot 33 percent from the field, compared with Arizona's 54 percent.
"Thirty points doesn't mean anything when you lose by 17," Clancy said.
Olson rarely uses a zone defense, but he felt it would take some of the inside pressure off his young front-line players. He said he's never had a team play so much zone in a game.
"We came out with the idea that we were going to go with the zones on made shots and man on misses," Olson said, "but they had so many problems with it we just opted to stay with it."
Clancy said the defense should not have been a surprise.
"We see the zone all the time," he said. "We just weren't making the shots."
USC coach Henry Bibby faulted his team's defense.
"We didn't play defense tonight," he said. "We just didn't step it up."
Walton became the fifth Arizona player to get a triple-double. The last was Loren Woods, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against Washington on Jan. 13, 2001. Woods also had one the previous season. The other Wildcats to achieve it were Damon Stoudamire in 1994-95, Chris Mills in 1991-92 and Matt Muelbach in 1989-90.
Walton had 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks in the first half as Arizona took a 51-26 lead. Near the end, his teammates knew he needed one more assist.
"Some of the managers told me in the huddle," Walton said. "`I think they told some of the other players because every time I passed the ball they were shooting it."
He got it on a 3-pointer by Bynum with about four minutes to play.
"The two people we thought about containing were Jason and Stoudamire," Bibby said. "We didn't think the third guy would beat us."
The Wildcats scored the game's first 10 points, then followed with an 18-0 outburst that had the home crowd roaring and Arizona up 34-7 on Bynum's fastbreak layup with 6:04 left in the half.
At that point, USC was 2-for-22 from the field and was being outrebounded by the smaller Wildcats 22-11. Arizona playmaker Jason Gardner was resting on the bench for 14 of the 18 points during the big run.
USC went 9:08 without a point, 10:35 without a field goal.
Clancy scored five points during an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 34-15, but Stoudamire and Gardner hit 3-pointers in a 10-3 response that boosted Arizona's lead to 44-18 on Walton's two free throws with 2:51 left in the half.