Luke Walton - Player of the Game

Officially, if you look it up in the media guide, Luke Walton is listed as a forward. Ask Coach Lute Olson and he'll tell you Walton is a "combo-forward." After his performance in the Wildcats' 97-80 thrashing of USC, maybe it's time to start referring to him officially as a "jack-of-all-trades."

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With his first triple-double, Walton proved that he is one of the nation's most versatile basketball players. Walton led the team in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. His dream stat line saw him finish with 27points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He also added four blocks and four steals.

"Tonight was his night," said Jason Gardner. "Luke is a great player and a great player to play with. He sees the court so well."

Walton was key on defense, clogging up the middle in the Wildcats' effective 3-2 zone. The unconventional zone harassed the Trojans into shooting 32.9% from the field and a miserable 23.3% from behind the arc.

Walton got the Cats started early, scoring the team's first five points of the contest. He started things off with a nifty lefthanded lay-in and followed it up with a breakaway lay-up and ensuing foul shot.

Walton attacked the middle all night with great effectiveness. He was able to make the shot or at least pick up the foul routinely. He was a stellar 7-of-11 from the field and got to the foul line 15 times.

"With the way they play defense, we thought the middle was the way to attack them," Walton said. "We worked at me getting to the middle in practice."

Walton did the bulk of his scoring in the first half, scoring 20 points. The second half saw him score less, but become no less effective. He was still a force on the boards and in setting up his teammates.

He finally achieved the prestigious triple-double late in the game. Walton found Will Bynum in the corner and the Wildcat freshman's three-pointer gave Walton his 10th assist.

"I've come close this year," said Walton. "It's nice to finally get one."

Walton left the game with just over a minute to play. The McKale crowd chanted his name while giving him a standing ovation.

For his stellar performance, Luke Walton is the Performance Fitness Systems Player of the Game.

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