Cats pick up sweep with 88-82 road win

Luke Walton 20 pts, seven rbs and six asssits
Luke Walton 20 pts, seven rbs and six asssits

STANFORD, CALIF.--For the second consecutive Saturday the Arizona Wildcats went into overtime. Unlike the loss to UConn last week, this time out Arizona hit the big shots they needed in the 88-82 road win.

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For the third consecutive year, Arizona went into Stanford and stole a win over the higher-rated Cardinal. However, this time it was much more difficult.

Wildcat fans, say hello to your new Pac-10 favorite, Oregon be damned. After waiting 20 games, Arizona has finally arrived.

The young Wildcats overcame both a 15-point deficit and a career-night from Stanford center Curtis Borchardt, who dominated the paint with 25 points and a career-high 21 rebounds.

However, it was the stellar play of Arizona freshman Channing Frye that proved to be the difference, with Arizona defeating Stanford and ultimately coming out of the Bay Area with an almost unbelievable sweep.

Frye, a 6-10 freshman from Phoenix, scored a career-high 22 points on 10-13 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds. While Borchardt may have proven his mettle as the Pac-10's premier big man, Frye showed beyond a shadow of a doubt who is the second best and who will one day take Borchardt's title.

"I figured that if I couldn't stop him defensively, I pretty much had to match him point for point," Frye said. "Any time you play shot blockers like Borchardt, Coach Olson emphasizes getting them away from the basket for our guards like Gardner and Salim (Stoudamire)."

What happens now is that the Wildcats find themselves at the point where they have been trying to get to since the first day of practice: favorites. After a two-game losing streak against ASU and Connecticut, Arizona has shown its true character by bouncing back with two huge wins in the Bay. Especially with the win here in Stanford.

"Great college basketball game," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. " I think both teams put forth a tremendous amount of effort and you could see that because anytime there was a loose ball players were all over the place. We got to the defensive boards a whole lot better in the second half particularly with Ricky (Anderson) and Luke (Walton).

"Borchardt was truly outstanding in every phase of the game but we are very pleased with Channing as well. He hit big shots and we were able to get opportunities in the second half by driving the lane because Channing was making those shots."

Olson said that the improvement of his young team can be traced to one thing: better team defense.

"As I look at our team over the past few games I see that we are becoming a good defensive team," he said. "Defense is not something freshmen come in and do very well. It has to be a concerted effort from the five guys."

The Wildcats are now a very respectable 15-6 overall and, more importantly, 8-3 in the Pac-10, one game behind first place Oregon. And be honest with yourself for a moment, who among you really thought this young team would win 15 of their first 21 games after losing four starters from a year ago?

If you say you did expect this, stop it because you are lying to yourself.

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