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Cats Down UAB, 85-63, to Move into the Sweet 16
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/20/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By JOHN MARSHALL AP Sports Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ The pressure never let up. Neither did the crowding, pushing and slapping.

How did the Arizona Wildcats handle it? With a shrug _ and now they're headed to the NCAA regional semifinals for the fourth time in five years.

Arizona didn't buckle under UAB's relentless defense and Salim Stoudamire provided plenty of offense with five 3-pointers and 28 points, helping the Wildcats move on in the Chicago Regional with a 85-63 victory over the Blazers on Saturday.

Arizona (29-6) struggled with Utah State's deliberate style in the first round and had plenty of trouble with UAB's frenetic, trapping defense for most of the first half. The Wildcats managed a nine-point lead at halftime despite the pressure, then cleaned up the mistakes in the second half _ only four turnovers _ to reach the round of 16 for the 12th time.

Arizona, the 1997 national champions, moves on to Rosemont, Ill., next weekend and will face either Oklahoma State or Southern Illinois, which play Sunday in Oklahoma City.

``It shows our versatility,'' Arizona center Channing Frye said. ``We work on beating the press every day in practice. Nothing we see out there is a surprise.''

UAB (22-11) played its usual helter skelter pace and gave the Wildcats problems at times, but couldn't seem to turn mistakes into points.

The 11th-seeded Blazers made just 6-of-30 from 3-point range _ their forte _ and shot 32 percent overall in failing to add another upset victory to a list of tournament wins that included Washington, Kentucky and LSU the past two years.

Donell Taylor led UAB with 13 points and Demario Eddins added 12.

``We didn't make shots and when you don't make shots, it's hard to get into our defense,'' UAB coach Mike Anderson said. ``That had a lot to do with it.''

UAB's defensive pressure certainly worked on Thursday, when the Blazers forced LSU into 21 turnovers in a 14-point victory. Arizona had plenty of miscues against the press, but made up for it in other ways.

The Wildcats had 12 of their 16 turnovers in the first half, but also beat the Blazers' press for easy baskets at least a half-dozen times. Arizona also never got flustered amid the chaos, calmly working the ball around the perimeter for open shots after breaking the press.

The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the field and made 18-of-23 from the free throw line, including 12-of-15 in the second half when UAB scrambled more as Arizona's lead grew.

Arizona was even better on defense.

Staying out on the Blazers' shooters, the Wildcats rarely let UAB have open looks on the perimeter. Arizona was just as effective when UAB did go inside, blocking seven shots and changing several others.

``They've got a couple of guys who can really knock that shot down, but when those players catch it you've got to make them drivers,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ``For the most part, we did a good job of making sure we had somebody there and when they had the open opportunities, they didn't make them.''

UAB's shooting troubles started early.

The Blazers missed their first nine 3-point attempts and were 1-for-19 before hitting a couple with the game all but out of reach. UAB got within 44-39 early in the second half, then missed 12 straight shots as Arizona built the lead 54-40.

``If our shots would have been falling, I think the score would have been even and we would have been able to give them a better fight down the stretch,'' UAB's Carldell Johnson said.

UAB at least reached one of its objectives: slowing Frye. Crowding the lane to keep him from getting the ball and doubling him whenever he touched it, the Blazers held Frye to six points on just five shots.

The rest of the Wildcats more than made up for Frye's rare quiet day.

Forward Hassan Adams got in the lane for 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ivan Radenovic added 11 points and six rebounds, and even little-used sophomore Kirk Walters chipped in, getting six of his eight points after Frye picked up his third foul early in the second half.

Then there was Stoudamire.

He controlled Arizona's offense, serving as the primary ballhandler against UAB's press and knocking down big shots every time the Blazers tried to make a run.

Stoudamire had three 3-pointers and 15 points in the first half, and added a four-point play at the 13-minute mark to put the Wildcats up 14. He finished 8-for-16 from the field _ 5-of-11 from long range _ and made all seven of his free throw attempts.

``Salim may miss, but he won't miss for long,'' Olson said. ``He threw up an airball on the second or third shot. A year ago, that would have doomed him for the day and he just went out and said he missed the shot and the next one he's going to knock in.''

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