Defense dooms Ducks

Arizona overcame an off night offensively with pesky defense that forced a slew of Oregon turnovers. Meanwhile, Channing Frye dominated play on the inside, and set a career high with seven blocked shots as the UA improved to 22-4 overall and maintained its advantage in the Pac-10 with a 92-67 win at McKale Center.

The dismissal of Ian Crosswhite and Oregon's adjustment to a smaller lineup was immediately apparent as the UA made it a point to feed senior center Channing Frye with regularity. Frye scored Arizona's first six points, but Oregon made some adjustments on the interior and converted three of its first four three-pointers to grab a brief 11-8 lead.

"I told Channing he needed to be agressive," Salim Stoudamire said. "He has to establish himself early."

Meanwhile, Arizona struggled offensively. It converted just four of its initial 14 field goals and managed eight points in the game's first six minutes. Dunks and Frye and Kirk Walters got the UA within one at 15-14.

"I think what happened is in the first half we were trying to step it up and trying to read (Oregon)," said Frye. "We were kind of rushing things and changing stuff up."

Chris Rodgers gave the Wildcats a spark off the bench. He drained the team's first three-pointers, then stole the ball on the perimeter which led to an alley-oop dunk for Hassan Adams. Rodgers hit another three that gave the Cats a 25-21 lead with nine minutes to go in the half.

"It was a great job by Rodgers on both ends," Head Coach Lute Olson stated. "He had nine assists and no turnovers. Because of how people play Salim (Stoudamire), it gives other players opportunities and Chris took advantage of that."

Arizona had chances to build the lead, but couldn't close the deal offensively. During one sequence, Frye missed a dunk, Stoudamire was long on a deep three, Ivan Radenovic airballed a perimeter jumper and Adams missed a breakaway layup. The UA shot just 37 percent from the field in the first half.

Arizona however was able to maintain a lead turning the ball over just two times in the first half. Oregon on the other hand turned the ball over too often to garner any real offensive flow, and the UA went to the locker room with a 43-34 lead.

"We also did a nice job of turning their turnovers into points," Olson said.

Both teams were more efficient offensively in the second half, but after trading buckets for the first eight minutes, Arizona pulled away. Stoudamire found Frye for a traditional three-point play that gave the UA some breathing room at 61-51 with 11:30 to go. Another Duck steal led to an Adams slam a minute later, and Stoudamire drained a three off another Oregon miscue as Arizona upped its advantage to 66-51 with 9:38 left.

The Wildcats outscored Oregon 35-16 over the course of the final 12 minutes.

"The defense was the key to this game; I thought we did a nice job of that," explained Olson.

Stoudamire led the way with 22 points. Frye finished with 19 points and a career-high seven blocked shots. Chris Rodgers had a career-high nine assists to go with double figure scoring.

"We had a poor shooting percentage in the first half (36.8%) but by the end of the game we got it back up in the fifties," Olson said. "This shows very good offense but the offense was ignited by the defense."

Freshman Malik Hairston led the way for Oregon with 21 points. Arizona improved to 22-4 overall, 12-2 in Pac-10 play. Oregon dipped to 4-9 in conference action.

Oregon State travels to Tucson Sunday afternoon at two o'clock in the McKale Center curtain call for seniors Stoudamire, Frye and Matt Brase.


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