Jan 17, 2003
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - When it came time to decide the game, it was simply a matter of No. 2 Arizona playing a little harder.
And that intensity was reflected in the numbers.
Freshman Hassan Adams scored 21 points, and the Wildcats played superb defense down the stretch Thursday night in rallying for an 81-72 victory over Southern California.
Arizona (12-1, 5-0 Pac-10) is now in position to go for its first sweep of USC and UCLA in Los Angeles since the 1992-93 season on Saturday against the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.
Arizona outscored USC 25-8 to finish the game.
The Trojans made only two field goals after Rory O'Neil's basket with 11:26 left, and shot 11-of-38 (28.9 percent) in the second half after going 20-of-39 (51.3 percent) in the first half.
And the Wildcats outrebounded USC 30-16 after halftime after the Trojans won the battle of the backboards 21-16 in the opening 20 minutes.
"A win is a win. The shots weren't there tonight, the guys did a great job of stepping up. If the shots aren't going in, I've got to do other things, try to be a leader out there."
"I think it was pretty much all intensity," said Arizona's Luke Walton, who made several big plays down the stretch and finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. "In the first half, we weren't getting loose balls and we let them kill us on the offensive glass."
USC (6-6, 2-2) was coming off a 99-61 loss to Pennsylvania of the Ivy League, but they gave the Wildcats all they could handle.
The Wildcats have won 18 of their last 22 against USC, but had lost four of the last six at the Los Angeles Sports Arena - including an 80-72 decision three years ago when they came in ranked second.
For a while, it looked like they might lose this game, too.
"We didn't execute in the latter part of the second half," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "Their bench beat us."
Adams is a reserve, as is fellow freshman Andre Iguodala, who had 11 points and six rebounds.
Gardner, a 5-foot-10 senior, also had a career-high 10 rebounds.
"A win is a win," he said. "The shots weren't there tonight, the guys did a great job of stepping up. If the shots aren't going in, I've got to do other things, try to be a leader out there."
Desmon Farmer led the Trojans with 23 points - all but three in the first half - and seven rebounds.
Errick Craven added 21 points, and O'Neil scored 10 for USC.
"I think we wore them down a little bit," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "I think Farmer tired a little bit. He plays so hard, it's understandable."
Olson praised the work of Adams and Oguodala, who guarded Farmer most of the time in the second half.
"Those two guys make such a huge difference for us," Olson said. "We have some options now we didn't have last year."
Farmer said there was a defender in his face every time he made a move in the second half.
"They were pushing the ball down our throats," he said. "We didn't give our all at the end. Missing layups, things like that, took us down."
The Trojans got two baskets each from Craven and O'Neil in outscoring the Wildcats 8-3 to start the second half for a 56-47 lead.
It was 64-56 when the Wildcats suddenly took command.
A 3-pointer by Stoudamire got Arizona started. After O'Neil scored for USC, the Wildcats ran off 13 straight points to go ahead for good.
Iguodala's three-point play with 9:08 left put Arizona on top for the first time, and Stoudamire's two free throws with 7:38 remaining completed the spurt, making it 72-66.
Farmer made a 3-pointer with 6:05 left for his only points of the second half to end USC's scoring drought of nearly 5˝ minutes.
A basket by Craven with 2:44 to play cut Arizona's lead to 74-72, but USC wouldn't score again. Walton made a free throw, fed Frye for a layup and scored from close range to put the game out of reach.
Gardner made two free throws to complete the scoring.
Farmer scored the game's first five points, and USC led 9-0 before Rick Anderson scored for Arizona.
Another basket by Farmer capped a 6-0 run and gave the Trojans a 15-4 lead with a little over five minutes gone.
The Wildcats got baskets by Anderson and Stoudamire to finish the first half to cut USC's lead to 48-44.
The Trojans played without Brandon Brooks, their leader in assists. Brooks broke his left leg in practice earlier in the week and underwent surgery Thursday. He is out for the season.