Cats overpower Sonoma after sluggish start

Point Guard U is alive and well. Mustafa Shakur shined in Arizona's 105-80 victory over Sonoma State, on the same night Mike Bibby's jersey was retired. Shakur is viewed as the next great point guard to come from Arizona, and the best since Bibby, and his performance Thursday made that contention hard to argue.

Bibby was Shakur's idol growing up as he had a picture of the Sacramento King hanging on his wall.

"I couldn't wait to play in front of him," Shakur said. "When I first heard about it I was excited, that was motivation for me."

Shakur struggled with just seven points against Team Georgia, but handled the undersized Sonoma State Seawolf backcourt with 22 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds. He added four assists and three steals.

The first half started slow for the UA before a 21-6 run opened up the game, making the score 28-16. At the end of the first half, Arizona led 51-41, and it was clear defense was an area of concern.

"In the first half I think we did terrible," said Shakur. "But we picked it up in the second half."

Arizona dominated the second half in all aspects opening up with a 16-6 run and outscoring the Seawolves 54-35 to end the game in dominating fashion.

Thumbnail While Arizona struggled in some departments, other areas were very solid. The UA dominated the glass winning the rebounding battle 43-28. In addition, Arizona shot 50.7 percent from the field. While defensively the UA struggled to keep points off the board, it did record 13 steals, six from Chris Rodgers.

"(Rodgers) can create havoc on defense and offense," Shakur said. "He's a great shooter also."

One of the biggest surprises of the night was Salim Stoudamire's excessively unselfish play. There were instances in which Stoudamire had the open shot, and should have taken it, but rather gave up the ball. Stoudamire ended the game with 10 assists and only four points.

"Salim has been doing a great job in practice of looking for me when he gets doubled," said Shakur.

Stoudamire also showed the ability to pass on his shot and make the necessary adjustments.

"They were really hawking him, and leaving me open," Shakur explained. "(Stoudamire) recognized that early, and that was a good job of Salim recognizing that."

Channing Frye had 24 points and nine rebounds in only 19 minutes despite picking up two early fouls.

"I just had to apologize to everybody for coming out like that," the senior center said. "I need to come out more mentally prepared and ready to play. I wasn't doing that in the first half. I was mad about missed free throws, missed shots and a lack of agressiveness on the boards, and I picked up stupid fouls."

Next up for the Cats is San Diego Tuesday night in McKale Center in the first round of the Preseaon NIT. If Arizona comes away with the victory it will face the winner of Tulsa and Wright State next Thursday.

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