Cats crush Jaspers

The Wildcat team that has made a living breaking with program tradition—lowest tournament seed in two decades, struggling to some degree in November, winning low scoring games—didn't lose the game before Christmas. In fact, Arizona got a matchup gift and outclassed the Jaspers 105-75 at McKale Center.

Manhattan likes to run and thrives on pressure defense, but it played right into Arizona's hands. The Wildcats' struggling offense was not apparent in the game's early stretches. The UA scored seven points in the first two minutes, and kept the pressure on en route to a 15-2 lead by the first TV timeout.

Salim Stoudamire returned for his first action in 10 days following the timeout and promptly delivered a steal and deep three-pointer.

"(Salim Stoudamire) had a great game and the shots he took were his shots," said Head Coach Lute Olson. "He's an unbelievable shooter. He was enthusiastic tonight. He was really pulling for the other guys while he was on the bench."

Stoudamire ended up with 23 total points, shooting 7 of 8 from beyond the arch. The sole miss came on a shot in which Stoudamire's arm was hit on his way up. The 7-7 long range performance was a school record, and had his final attempt gone down, he would have matched the school record.

"The school record wasn't that big of a deal to me," admitted Stoudamire. "I wanted it, but I will have another chance later. They put me back in, but I just threw up a shot and realized it wasn't worth it tonight."

Chris Rodgers, who started his second straight game, picked up a steal on Manhattan's next possession, and delivered a behind-the-back pass to freshman Jawann McClellan, who converted a traditional three-point play, as Arizona upped the margin to 24-8. A Rodgers three extended the lead to 27-8 with 11:36 to go in the first half.

"I am very proud of our team for going up big early in the game," Channing Frye said. "We all stepped up and tried to come out and make a statement. I think it's the little things that we need to work on. We do a lot of things well, but we need more consistency."

Stoudamire drained two more threes as Arizona built its lead to 37-12.

"That was him (Stoudamire) trying to stay on himself," said Frye. "This was his chance to rekindle his aggressiveness."

Arizona dominated other statistical categories in the deciding first half. At one point the UA had a 14-4 rebounding advantage. Additionally, it shot 60 percent from the floor in the game's first 20 minutes.

Channing Frye converted the team's third traditional three-point play with 5:18 to go in the first half. It's only noteworthy because it was Arizona's 48th point, the number scored in the five-point win at Marquette.

Stoudamire finished the half with 17 points on five three pointers and Arizona went to the locker room up 57-29.

The second half was no different as the UA coasted to the comfortable win. The difference in the scoring came from Arizona's ability to move the ball around.

"I was so pleased with the way we got the ball to the open man," said Olson. "We were selective with our shots."

Bret Breilmaier hit a reverse lay-in at the three-minute mark that put the UA over the 100-point barrier. Brielmaier was one of three freshmen to see 10 or more minutes of action.

"Everyone was pumped up and playing well," Daniel Dillon said. "It was a good win. It was great for the freshmen to come in and get some minutes. It helps build our confidence."

Arizona improved to 8-2 on the season, while Manhattan slipped to 6-3. Now the task moves ahead to Eastern Washington where Arizona hopes to continue its dominating performance.

"We are very hungry for next week, but I'm looking forward to going home and spending Christmas with my family for now," explained Frye.

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