Player of the Game: Anderson fights for honor

It wasn't a perfect game by any means. He made his fair share of yelling a got scolded by Lute Olson. However, in the absence of Luke Walton, Rick Anderson stepped up his game and helped propel the Wildcats to a 74-70 win against a gutsy Valparaiso squad.

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The junior forward scored 18 points, but it was his play midway through the second half that secured Player of the Game honors. A defensive rebound and converted free throw with 15.9 seconds helped seal the come-from-behind win for Arizona.

With the Crusaders threatening to steal one at McKale, Anderson scored seven straight points for the Wildcats to give them the lead. His three pointer from the corner gave Arizona a slim 49-48 lead. His next two buckets, a put-back and a runner, each allowed the Cats to regain the lead.

Down the stretch he continued to battle as fellow forward Luke Walton nursed a strained Achilles tendon. On one sequence he battled to keep the ball alive not once, but twice. He then capped the possession with a ten-foot jumper. His tip-in at the 5:10 mark gave the Wildcats a 65-61 lead.

Anderson was also strong on the defensive end. He teamed with Dennis Latimore to limit Valpo's leading scorer Lubos Barton to only six points, eight below his season average.

It wasn't a perfect game, but Anderson shuffled between the two forward spots and made big plays from both spots. Olson spent a fair amount of time "coaching" Anderson, after a missed switch and his failure to move to the open spot to get the ball inside when on offense.

Anderson was also a beast on the boards. He grabbed the final two rebounds of the game, pulled down a game high 11 rebounds and kept a number of other balls alive or away from Crusader during the game.

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