Righting the ship

Since the first season of the Lute Olson era, Arizona had not lost three games in a row in Pac-10 Conference play. It avoided that dubious distinction with a 97-72 win over UCLA. The win not only snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cats, but it also gave Olson his school-high 510 wins.

Arizona used a 20-4 run midway through the second half to silence the crowd and blow the game wide open. UCLA, who never led, got within seven early in the second half, but then fell apart and allowed the Wildcats to coast home with the win.

Three Wildcats finished with more than 20 points and the team shot over 54 percent from the field. UCLA had no answer for Channing Frye. The junior matched his career high with 26 points.

The UCLA big men could do nothing to stop Frye as he used his quickness and a nifty jump hook to completely befuddle the Bruins. The only way UCLA could slow him down was to foul him. When they failed to foul, he got his shot off. He was a stellar 11-19 from the floor.

"(We Played) with a sense of purpose," Frye said. "We came out so intense to show that we were the better team."

He also added 10 rebounds, six from the offensive end.

Hassan Adams had a nice homecoming. After a rough night against USC, the sophomore from Los Angeles Westchester High School had 23 points. Without having to bang against a player like USC's Jeff McMillan, Adams was able to get lose on the perimeter and use his jumper to kill the Bruins. Adams was 4-8 from behind the arc, and when the Bruins began respecting the outside shot, he was able to do damage inside.

As good as Adams was from the outside, Salim Stoudamire was just a tad better. Stoudamire began to feel it midway through the first half and wound up with seven three-pointers on just 11 attempts.

All told Wildcat shooters were 14-23 from behind the arc.

"When we shoot the ball like we shot the ball today it will be very difficult to beat us," Olson said.

Unlike USC on Thursday night, UCLA could not find the holes in the Cats' 1-3-1 zone. Dijon Thompson and Trevor Ariza scored 19 and 18 respectively, but their occasional three-point baskets did not break the zone the way the Trojans' Desmon Farmer was able to. Thompson scored six of his points during garbage time, while Ariza did most of his damage early or at the foul line after the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Arizona allowed the Bruin wings to do some minor damage, but they could not open things up inside. T.J. Cummings scored 12, but the rest of the Bruins post players managed only 12 points total.

The Wildcats shored up the hole in the 1-3-1 zone, forced UCLA to drive into traffic and prevented the Bruins from getting inside. Arizona defenders collapsed on the attacking Bruins, created an up-tempo game and used the tight defense to spark the fast break.

"It's unusual for us to play zone and we played nothing but zone," Olson said.

The Wildcats were dominant on the boards, especially on the offensive glass. Despite giving up height at evert starting spot, the Wildcats outrebounded the Bruins. Arizona got off to the fast start and forced Ben Howland to call a time out just 1:58 into the game. The Cats scored on their first four possessions and led 10-2 before 2:00 had gone by. Shakur got Arizona on the board with a three from the corner for the Wildcats first points and the Ariozna never trailed in the contest. UCLA responded with a bucket, then Arizona scored seven in a row forcing the timeout. Frye scored off of a pair of offensive rebounds and Adams drained a three.

Following the timeout UCLA kept pace with the Wildcats. A pair of Ariza threes and three quick points from Ryan Hollins got UCLA within four, 17-13, but the Cats quickly created some breathing room. Arizona took a 10-point lead on a Salim Stoudamire three-pointer from the top of the key. Stoudamire capped a spurt where Adams converted and three-point play and Iguodala and Frye got the Wildcats second chance baskets on offensive rebounds.

Arizona led by as many as 16, but the Bruins closed the half with five-straight from Cedric Bozeman. UCLA scored nine of the first 14 points in the second half and fter a T.J. Cummings baseline jumper the Bruins had closed the gap to 53-46.

It did not take long for the Wildcats to respond. The Cats went on a 10-0 run to dash much of the Bruins' hope. Moments before Channing Frye scored the first of his three buckets in the spurt, the UCLA faithful were on their feet screaming. By the time his hook shot capped the run, the crowd was quiet and UCLA found themselves on the wrong end of a 63-46 game.

Arizona rolled from then on out, increasing its lead. UCLA never managed to put up much resistance as Stoudamire and Frye seemingly had their way with the Bruins defense. Frye put the Cats up by 20 and 30 points. The first 20-point lead came on the break when Iguodala found the UA big man with a behind the back pass for a slam dunk and a 71-50 lead. The 30-point lead came on a pair of Frye free throws that allowed him to tie his career high scoring mark of 26 points. He had an opportunity to break the mark, but missed a pair of free throws late in the game.

There's little doubt this was a must win for Arizona. A loss would have buried the Wildcats in the lower division of the Pac-10 Conference race. The victory leaves the Cats (3-2) trailing Stanford (5-0) and UCLA (4-1) with games coming up against the Oregon schools at McKale Center next week.

"We were in serious shape with two losses early and we really needed this one bad," said Olson.


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