PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - The way Arizona's Channing Frye sees it, getting upset by Washington State last month helped the Wildcats in the long run.
After losing to the Cougars in Tucson, Frye and Co. realized they needed to play better if they wanted to stay in first place in the Pac-10.
That lesson helped the Wildcats withstand another strong challenge from Washington State on Thursday night, with Ivan Radenovic sinking two free throws with 9 seconds left in overtime to give No. 9 Arizona a 57-56 victory.
It was the seventh straight win for the Wildcats since losing to Washington State in late January.
``Earlier in the year, we would have lost this game,'' said Frye, who led all scorers with 26 points, and added eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
``It was the best case scenario in Tucson,'' said Frye, who made 11-of-13 shots even as Arizona was held 23 points below its season scoring average. ``It brought us together as a team and showed us what we've got to work on.''
Radenovic, who added 10 points and eight rebounds, said he wasn't nervous as he went to the line with the game on the line and his team trailing 56-55.
``Every basketball player is looking for that moment when he hits the free throws to win a game,'' Radenovic said.
Arizona coach Lute Olson was also happy to see Radenovic at the line.
``If you noticed, neither one of those touched the rim,'' Olson said.
Derrick Low's 3-point shot for Washington State rimmed out in the closing seconds and Radenovic rebounded for the Wildcats (24-4, 14-2), who won for the 17th time at Pullman.
The win gave Olson 304 wins in the Pac-10, tied with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden for most wins ever in the league.
``It's really an honor for me to have been in here long enough to have the opportunity to tie him,'' Olson said.
Olson is 41-3 against Washington State.
Washington State (10-14, 5-10), fighting for one of eight spots in the Pac-10 tournament, employed a slow-down offense and the league's best defense snarled Arizona's up-tempo offense.
The Cougars rank seventh in the nation defensively, and best in Pac-10, giving up 57 points per game.
``That's a game that was winnable, that's the hard part,'' said Washington State coach Dick Bennett. The Cougars were seeking their first sweep of Arizona since the 1982-83 season.
``Channing Frye was the difference, as he has been so many times in the past against us,'' Bennett said.
Thomas Kelati led the Cougars with 16 points, and also held Salim Stoudamire, Arizona's leading scorer, to eight points, 10 below his average.
The Cougars broke a 38-game losing streak to Arizona with a 70-63 win in January, one of the biggest wins in Washington State's recent history. But the Cougars have lost five of six games since.
The score was tied at 49 at the end of regulation after Frye scored inside with 51 seconds left.
Stoudamire's two free throws gave Arizona a 51-49 lead. A 3-pointer by Kelati gave Washington State a 52-51 lead, but Hassan Adams' layup put Arizona ahead 53-52.
Two free throws by Low and two more by Kelati made it 56-53 for Washington State with 2:03 left. Mustafa Shakur replied with a layup for Arizona to close to 56-55.
Robbie Cowgill missed and Arizona got the ball back with 23 seconds left. Radenovic drove to the basket and was fouled by Chris Schlatter. Then Radenovic calmly tied it and put the Wildcats ahead from the line.
At times playing four freshmen, Washington State led 32-30 after the first half.
Frye's three baskets accounted for all the offense Arizona could muster in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
Two free throws by Frye tied the game at 42 with 7:52 left, and his bank shot gave Arizona its first lead, 44-42.
After Frye powered in for a layup to tie the score at 49, Washington State turned the ball over and Arizona called a timeout with 13.8 seconds left.
Stoudamire dribbled inside as the clock ran down, but was striped of the ball by Kyle Weaver and the game went into overtime.