Cats take control of the Pac-10

Arizona defeated Washington to out rank the Huskies Thursday night in a battle to the very end. Help from their top performers didn't hurt either. The 0-3 curse of last year made victory all that much sweeter.

Both Washington and Arizona battled hard to keep the game close and fans on the edge of their seats for the majority of the first half. Washington was sure not to let the Cats score easily, as they played good pressure defense. The Huskies scored first making it a 3-0 game but Mustafa Shakur put the Cats within one after being fouled by Nate Robinson. Ivan Radenovic tied the game at seven after a lay up.

Arizona took their first lead (9-7) of the first half after two successful free throws by Shakur at the 16:00 mark. Salim Stoudamire followed that with a outstanding three pointer that got the crowd up and screaming louder then they had all game. Shakur continued to be hot from the field with eight points in the first seven minutes.

Coach Lute Olson gave the starters a rest and brought in the reserves being led by Chris Rodgers at the 13:00 mark. Will Conroy was able to grab the lead back for the Huskies after a jumper and a foul making it 20-18. Olson found it wise to bring his starters back in at the 10:47 mark. Washington ran into quite a few traveling problems in the first half, but the Wildcats just couldn't capitalize on it.

Channing Frye scored his first points of the game eleven minutes into it from the free throw line. A three pointer by Washington's Tre Simmons put the Huskies up by ten 40-30. A free throw by Simmons gave Washington the biggest lead of the first half 47-36. However, Arizona was able to battle back slightly and cut the lead to just seven at the half (47-40).

Conroy led Washington in the points category at the half with nine. Stoudamire led Arizona with 13 points and Shakur wasn't far behind with nine. Arizona wasn't having anytime putting points on the board but they were having a problem rebounding. They were out rebounded by Washington 20-12 in the first. The Huskies also had seven second chance points at the half and Arizona didn't even have one. The Cats were down but definitely not out.

The competitive spirit of both teams picked up right where they had left off in the second half. A big dunk and one by Hassan Adams got the Wildcats off to a good start making it 47-43. A Stoudamire three pointer sank and suddenly the boys in red and white were only down by two points.

Good pressure defense by Arizona put the Huskies in a tough spot as they lost possession for a shot clock violation. Arizona took their first lead since the middle of the first half after a big three pointer by Shakur. Arizona was clearly shooting better than their opponents. They had out shot Washington 15-4 within the first five minutes of the second half. However, the Huskies continued to battle and regained the lead after a fast break.

The lead of the game continued to flip flop in a battle of three pointers with Jawann McClellan, Rodgers, and Robinson all hitting from beyond the arch. A three point play by Bobby Jones put Washington down by only one, but Frye started to come alive and quieted the Huskies with a monster dunk. Both teams continued to battle back and forth with Washington consistently down by a mere point until a three pointer by Conroy put them up 73-71.

Coach Olson benched the Wildcats' leading scorer, Stoudamire, with four personal fouls. Arizona didn't let that bother them. Back to back jumpers by Frye and a pair of successful free throws by Shakur helped Arizona pick up the lead again. Stoudamire reentered the game right before the three minute mark and not a minute too late for Arizona as Washington continued to battle. Stoudamire hit a big three point play after being fouled almost securing the win with a six point lead. Successful free throws by Shakur and Adams sealed the deal, as the Cats picked up a hard fought win 91-82.

Sometimes a game just can't be won without your star players. Stoudamire, Shakur, and Frye all stepped up big. That needs to happen if you want to beat a team with a better record than you, especially in the Pac-10. Stoudamire went onto score 25 points, Shakur 19, and Frye really got into his game in the second with 14 points alone in the second half.

This win for Arizona proved a lot, especially teamwork. Someone who is just ranked above them will not intimidate the Cats. They have great depth and aren't afraid to use it. That only proves how good the team will be next year with Stoudamire and Frye both leaving. The Wildcats ate the Huskies with heart and determination. They want to be number one, not only in their conference but in the world.

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