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Arizona was struggling with the Trojans' frontline size early on, but the Wildcats cranked up the defensive intensity in the second half and the Trojans had no answer for the swarming Wildcats.
All told the Cats scored 19 of 21 points, many coming in transition off of Trojan turnovers. Sixteen of the 20 points came from dunks or lay-ins, including a trio of fastbreak dunks that brought the crowd to it's feet.
The defense was sparked by Chris Rodgers, who did a fantastic job harassing the USC point guards. The sophomore guard picked up the opposing playmakers at half court and made them work to even get the offensive motion started.
"I just tried to give my team the support," Rodgers said. "When I got in there I wanted to change things up. I just tried to get some steals and deflections.
Rodgers was particularly effective when Mustafa Shakur had to go to the bench with his fourth foul. Rodgers showed great patience on offense, making the extra pass and letting the offense come to him. By playing patient and smart, the sophomore scored 14 points on 5-7 shooting.
Desmon Farmer scored 40 points in the first meeting between the two team, but was held to just 11 in the rematch. The Wildcats matched him with the shorter Salim Stoudamire and the Wildcat junior responded by harassing the Trojan senior.
"Salim did a great job on Farmer," Olson said. "He was on him when he caught the ball so he couldn't get the open look."
Stoudamire was the key on offense as well, scoring 22 points on 3-6 three-point shooting. He also made 9-of-10 free throws.
All told six Wildcats scored in double figures.
Henry Bibby switched up his normal starting line-up and it paid immediate dividends. Bibby started three bigs and two littles, giving O'Neil the start at small forward and pitting the 6-8 Greg Guenther Jr. against the much smaller Adams. Guenther scored four early points as the Trojans jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the early going.
Olson used a rare early timeout and made a few adjustments that worked right away. Mixing both a man and a zone defense the Cats kept te Trojans off balance and scored 14 of the next 21 points.
Frye got things started when he dunked home a missed shot and proceeded to score four more points in the rally. Iguodala showed some aggressiveness on offense, scoring a pair of buckets and doing a nice job attacking the basket.
Arizona took their first lead with 5:53 left in the first half. Chris Rodgers knocked down a three-pointer and the Wildcats took a short lived 27-26 lead.
The Trojans looked to carry all the momentum into the half after they rattled off an 11-3 run. Jeff Macmillan scored twice down low and Errick Craven knocked down a big three to spark the rally which gave USC a four-point lead with just seconds left in the half. The Wildcats were not content to just roll over and let USC have the half. The Cats had a fast break opportunity and Rodgers got his lay-in off before the buzzer, drawing the foul in the process. The ensuing free throw made it a one-point game, 40-39, at the midway point.
The two squads battled back and forth for the early part of the second half, trading leads seven times, and tying twice.
USC led 53-52 when the Cats ran off a 14-0 run to put the game out of reach. The striking thing is that the bulk of the run came after Mustafa Shakur picked up his fourth foul. The freshman point guard was having a great game prior to adding two quick fouls that took him to the bench.
The Cats never slowed down after that. The Trojans fell apart with the defensive pressure and never mounted any kind of rally.