Cats extinguish Flames

Arizona fans were less concerned with Liberty than they were the debut of Ivan Radenovic. In fact the only drama in the Cats'107-91 win would be how well the Serbian would play after joining the team less than two weeks ago.<BR> <A href="">NEWS, NOTES, STATS & PHOTOS</A>

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Radenovic did not disappoint. He received a large ovation as he entered the game and responded by being an instant threat on offense. Radenovic hit four of his first five shot, most of them soft jumpers and finished with17 points and nine rebounds.

"He's very crafty with the ball," Andre Iguodala said of Radenovic. "He's either going to score or he's going to pass."

Radenovic was 5-10 from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the line. A nice debut, but maybe just a precursor of things to come.

"He's going to shoot the ball better than he did tonight," Lute Olson said. "He can flat out shoot the ball."

Lost in the stunning debut was the second double-double for Andre Iguodala. The sophomore forward needed some assists late in the game to reach the double figures for assists, so the Wildcats let him play a little point guard late in the contest.

"It was like high school again," Iguodala said. "I played point guard in high school."

Iguodala actually got 11 assists to go along with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He joins Loren Woods as being the only players in school history to get more than one triple-double.

"After I got the first triple-double I researched a little bit and saw that Loren was the only player with two," Iguodala said. "After I saw that I said ‘We'll see if I can get another one. I gotta catch him'."

Liberty coach Randy Dunton told reporters the day before the game about how his team was able to stay with teams like Duke and Iowa State in the first half, but just couldn't sustain the effort. Dunton did not have to worry about a second half collapse, because the Flames were out of it early in the first half.

Not Surprisingly, Arizona was just too talented for their Big South opponent. Like most smaller teams, the Flames had no answer for the Wildcats' speed and length. A bad situation got worse when it was apparent early on that Arizona was on shooting-wise.

An early technical foul on Liberty head coach Dunton sparked a 8-0 spurt that gave the Wildcats a 13-4 lead. The Flames appeared to take the lead when Brian Woodson streaked down the floor and made a lay-up, but an offensive foul was called away from the play, nullifying the bucket. Dunton protested a bit and was whistled for a quick technical. Rodgers made both foul shots and Channing Frye converted the three-point play off of the ensuing possession.. The Cats stole the inbounds pass and Rodgers knocked down the three from the top of the key.

Rodgers got his first career start thanks to Mustafa Shakur missing a practice due to Christmas break travel problems. The sophomore responded with 12 points and three assists

"Chris has played outstanding two games in a row," Olson said. "He did a really good job."

The Cats built up their first 30-point lead less than 5:00 into the second half. The Flames scored two quick buckets, before the Wildcats responded with a 12-2 run. Stoudamire was the spark, scoring eight, including a pair of three pointers, the second of which put Arizona up 70-40.

It would take the Wildcats just over 10 minutes longer to get over the century mark. Again it was Stoudamire doing the duty. The junior hit a free throw to put the Cats up 100-67.

Stoudamire had his stroke. He scored 17 points on 5-6 shooting, including going 4-5 from behind the arc.

Olson then cleared his bench and that let the Flames make the game respectable. Liberty responded by going on a 24-7 run to close out the game.

"I think the scout team was trying to set a record for most points scored against them per minute," Olson joked. "Liberty shot the ball very well down the stretch."

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