Game Talk: Arizona 79, USC 76

LOS ANGELES-With 3.9 seconds left and the game tied at 76, Mustafa Shakur took the in bounds pass, raced to the other end and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Arizona a 79-76 win. The players were exhausted but grateful to move on to a semifinal game with Washington tomorrow.<BR> After the game, the players had this to say.....

Lute Olson' opening comments

"We feel very fortunate to get this one. Salim (Stoudamire) had a really bad shooting game but on the other hand he caused (Desmon) Farmer to have a worse one, I guess. As you can see we don't have much depth. We can't really afford to have Hassan (Adams) sit out like he did in the second half. We needed Andre (Iguodala) badly because we were just getting thumped on the defensive glass...We're just happy to be moving on." Andre Iguodala

You had a tough night with foul trouble, but it has be gratifying to pull it out the way you did and get the win?
"Definitely. We just kept playing. You just have to keep fighting and I think this team did that the whole game. This team showed heart and we got the win."

Do you think you were about due to win a game like this?
"I thought about that too when Mustafa was bringing the ball up the court. So many teams have been doing that to us with last second shots and getting lucky at the end. Finally we got one and we got to give them a little bit of their own medicine."

You guys had a 12-point lead in the first half and then shots just wouldn't fall. What happened?
"There was a lot of whistles blowing (because of all the fouls) and that took us out of our rhythm and guys got a little cold and stiff. We just had to try to stay warm and just not reach in get fouls and keep the clock moving, playing up and down so we wouldn't get out of rhythm."

It's March and things get a little tighter. What is the team's mindset right now?
"A win is always good and we need to continue to play well to show the NCAA Tournament committee that we're a good team so we get a good seed.

Salim Stoudamire had a disappointing shooting night, but defensively he really handcuffed Desmon Farmer. How big was Salim's defensive effort?
"They were guarding him pretty tight too at the other end. It was real scrappy. They were holding him a lot, so I guess he wanted to return the favor. He did a great job holding Farmer to 2-for-20 (from the field), so that shows how good a defensive player he is.

What is it going to take to beat Washington tomorrow?
"I think we just need to limit turnovers and play our game and get to the glass. We just need to play our best and we'll get the win."

Salim Stoudamire

What did it feel like after you guys were up by 12 then lost the momentum?
"We never thought we didn't have the momentum. We knew it was just of a matter of time, then Mustafa hit a big shot at the end."

How did you stop Farmer tonight?
"I really didn't stop him. He stopped himself. He got to chit chatin' out on the court and I think that took away from his game."

Did it surprise you a little bit to win the game the way you won it?
"We thought we would come in and dominate them, but it didn't go our way. But a W is a W so we'll take it.

Are you a little dinged up?
"I twisted my ankle and I have a minor wrist injury but that's nothing. I should play through that. In fact, it should make me want to play even more."

As physical as this was, does it take a little bit out of you because you're playing with a short bench?
"Maybe to you guys it looks that way, but we don't see it like that. We just want to go out and play."

What is it going to take to beat Washington tomorrow?
"I think they beat us on the boards last time and USC beat us on the boards tonight. But in the end the guards were down there battling and came away with some crucial boards. So we have to do that to get into our transition game."

Channing Frye

Was this as physical a game as you guys have played in awhile?
"I think they were really determined to rotate big guys on me and Hassan and just being physical with the guards. I think that made it an ugly game and I think that was their game pla and it worked. But I don't think Salim will shoot that badly tomorrow. I think he's one of those players who can be 2-for-something then be 20-for-21, he's just like that. We have a lot of confidence in him and we just have to stick with it.

What happened on the last shot, the winning shot by Mustafa Shakur?
"Honestly, when he first pulled up I didn't see how close Desmon Farmer was to him so I was like ‘if he doesn't shoot it, I've got to stay behind because I might get a chance.' But as soon as he jumped up and shot the ball I was just running to the basket because if he missed I have to dunk it real quick. I looked away for just a minute and it was almost like slow motion watching as the ball goes straight through the net. After that I was like ‘is this really happening to us?' Its just things like that that makes the season good, so I think we deserved it.

How much does the physical nature of a game like this take out of you?
"We can't really dwell on the bad things. We need to focus on Washington. Our bodies can rest. We're young and vivacious.... you need to use that word. I think we need to just go out and be focused and not worry about our bodies. We have to come out (tomorrow) hungry and know we're here for a reason.

What will it take to beat Washington tomorrow?
"We're going to have to be mentally focused. We're going to have to get rebounds and cut back on their fast break points.

Chris Rodgers

Were the fouls due to the physical nature of the game?
"We were hoping the game would be called pretty even at both ends of the court. They got away with a lot of things and we got away with some things."

This seemed like a typical March tournament game. What is about March?
"We know in March it's going to be tough. Games are going to go down to the wire and those are the times we're going to have to execute down the stretch. I think we had a few mental lapses but we were able to stay in the game and get the last possession and it worked out for us.

They were guarding the three-point line closely. Did that take you guys out of your rhythm?
"I don't think so. We just didn't move the ball as much as we should have and we were taking quick shots. I think we were a little sluggish as far as executing throughout the game. But once we start to get screens and moved the ball like we used to, we're going to get our shots.

Was the game as physical on the perimeter as it was inside?
"It was very physical. It was frustrating to have the referees not call the same things. If you 're going to call it physical let's make sure it's even both ways. Guys on our team got in foul trouble early and that hurt us, so it was just one of those games.

Photo by Carl F. Shifflette III

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