Dec 28, 2001
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Salim Stoudamire seemed to benefit the most from Arizona playing its first home game in nearly four weeks.
The freshman, looking for improvement after shooting poorly during a road trip to Oregon last week, had a season-high 25 points Friday night as No. 14 Arizona rebounded from the worst loss in coach Lute Olson's 19 seasons with the Wildcats by routing Pepperdine 94-71.
"I don't worry about that," said Stoudamire, who was 9-of-13 from the field with five 3-pointers after going a combined 5-of-15 the last two games. "We won, and that's all that matters."
Associate head coach Jim Rosborough said nobody was worried about Stoudamire regaining his touch.
"No. 1, we're back home," Rosborough said. "No. 2, we watched Salim very carefully on tape. We've worked with him a lot, and I think the techniques we've taught him will help."
The win six days after Oregon beat the Wildcats 105-75 sent Arizona to Sunday's championship game of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic. The Wildcats (7-3) will play Valparaiso, a 76-57 winner over West Virginia in the first game.
Terrance Johnson had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Waves (5-6), and Boomer Brazzle scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
The win was Arizona's first in two games at home, where the Wildcats were ambushed 105-97 by Kansas on Dec. 1, and its 32nd in 33 games at its holiday tournament.
The phrase "honoring Bobbi Olson" was added to the tournament name this year to commemorate Olson's late wife, who was terminally ill during the event last year and died Jan. 1.
Olson missed last year's title game to be at his wife's bedside, and Mississippi State dealt the Wildcats their only loss in the first 16 years, 75-74. This time, Olson came down with laryngitis and was forced to write notes to communicate during timeouts and skipped postgame interviews.
"He didn't have a voice, but he was still yelling at you on the paper," Frye joked.
But the Wildcats got the message, jumping ahead from the start and not letting up until Pepperdine outscored them 13-4 over the final four minutes.
"We knew this team could get hot," Frye said. "Our guys just played well. Salim had a breakout game, but then we all did."
Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal, whose squad beat UCLA and Southern California early on but since has lost to Oregon and Arizona, said the Wildcats' long-range shooting was a key to the Waves falling behind.
"I give them a lot of credit, but I also give us the blame," Westphal said. "If you're patient you can run your offense and you won't be taken out of it. We weren't patient."
Stoudamire made three 3-pointers in the first 5:02, opening a 17-4 lead.
Isaiah Fox made it 26-8 with a putback 8:12 in before the Waves made their best run of the first half.
Johnson had seven points during a 15-10 run, finishing it with a 3-pointer, as Pepperdine cut its deficit to 36-23 with 5:11.
But the Wildcats stepped up the pace again, and Gardner made a 3-pointer, was fouled by Will Kimble and opened a 47-27 lead with the free throw with 53 seconds left.
"In the second half, we needed to come out and play harder," Johnson said. "But they were ready to play and beat us to it."
Arizona got its first 30-point lead at 65-35 on a layup by Frye four minutes into the second half, and Frye scored seven points in 60 seconds to give the Wildcats a 74-42 lead with 12:19 to go.