Jan 25, 2003
By DOUG TUCKER
AP Sports Writer
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Salim Stoudamire got embarrassed. Then he got motivated.
Stoudamire, benched Wednesday night for poor play, scored a career-high 32 points Saturday as No. 1 Arizona came storming back from a 20-point deficit and stunned No. 6 Kansas 91-74.
Against Arizona State on Wednesday, the 6-1 Stoudamire scored only three points and played just 20 minutes. Against the Jayhawks, in a game featuring the two highest-rated teams to face each other all year, he was 12-of-18 and connected on 6-of-9 3-pointers.
"He shot the ball and he played hard," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "I benched him on Wednesday and it helped him. I think we got the point across."
"This was a measuring stick. I think we proved we were a No. 1 team."
Stoudamire had two buckets in a momentum-changing 10-0 run by Arizona (15-1) that started the second half and ignited the comeback.
"I was just playing my game," he said. "I wasn't thinking about anything else. I just tried to move to the open spot and get good shots."
Kansas (13-5), which shot a sizzling 65 percent in the first half and led 44-24 with 5:37 left, shot only 29 percent in the second half even though the Wildcats played essentially the same defense.
Coach Roy Williams and his players were at a loss to explain how they could lead by 20 in Allen Fieldhouse and then wind up suffering their most lopsided home loss since 1989.
"In the first half we looked as good as anybody in America," Williams said. "In the second half we looked like a team that couldn't win another game the rest of the season. It's impossible to figure out, let alone explain."
The loss snapped their 25-game home winning streak and their 13-point halftime lead was the biggest they'd blown in Williams' 15 years as head coach.
"Our confidence the first half was great," guard Kirk Hinrich said. "But to have a dropoff like that in a game like this is just so disappointing. We were very positive, confident. But I guess overconfident. We just didn't play."
Arizona turned it completely around with the run over the first 3:31 of the second half, slicing a 13-point deficit to 52-49.
The Jayhawks could hardly miss in the first half as Keith Langford scored 11 points in a 3-minute span en route to a career-high 27 points. But in the opening minutes of the second half they seemed suddenly helpless, going 0-of-4 with five turnovers and three fouls until Jeff Graves hit a free throw at the 15:36 mark.
Stoudamire's 3-pointer a moment later made it 54-53 and gave the Wildcats their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
"The No. 1 team was not on the floor in the first half, I'll guarantee you that," Olson said.
Jason Gardner, on a feed from Stoudamire, scored under the basket to put the Wildcats on top 76-66 with 5:55 to go and quiet the roaring crowd of more than 16,000.
"They were as loud as any crowd, if not louder," Arizona's Luke Walton said. "It's a great atmosphere here."
The Jayhawks cut it to 76-71 on a 10-footer by Hinrich, who had missed six of his first seven shots.
But Stoudamire answered with a 3-pointer from the corner, then hit a second straight 3-pointer after Langford had made one for the Jayhawks.
The Wildcats' lead again went to 10 with 2:41 left when Gardner's free throw made it 81-71.
Langford, a 6-4 sophomore averaging 16.3 points in his first season as a starter, hit 11 straight points in one stretch in the first half as Kansas' lead climbed from 18-10 to 33-19.
"This was a measuring stick," said Stoudamire. "I think we proved we were a No. 1 team."
Gardner had 23 points for Arizona, which is 4-0 this year against ranked opponents, while Rick Anderson had 15 points, including a key 3-pointer as the Jayhawks were trying to mount a last-minute comeback.
"In the first half they beat us every way you could beat us," Olson said. "The second half, they really had a problem shooting the ball and our balls were going in. The first half, Kansas was the No. 1 team."
Nick Collison and Hinrich each had 15 points for Kansas.