Frye saves the Cats

There is a song called "Praise Him" by Fat Boy Slim that used to be popular when I was in high school. That is exactly what the Arizona Wildcats should do to Channing Frye. While the meaning of the song does not perfectly match the situation, the overall sentiment is the same.

Without Frye Arizona would have walked out of Pullman, Wash. with a loss. The Wildcats lost to Washington State earlier this season (70-63) in a loss that shocked fans on both sides of the country. The upset occurred right after Arizona took control of the Pac-10. The Cats were out for revenge in the rematch, but they didn't quite get it the way they wanted as the game went to overtime and had fans, players, and coaches biting their nails until the very end.

Chris Schlatter, forward, put WSU up early by scoring the first two points of the game. A minute and a half later the Cats tied the game at two with a dunk from Frye. However, the Cougars had their game faces on and showed they would not be intimidated by the ninth ranked team in the country. Jeff Varem gave WSU a six point lead after sinking both his free throws.

Coach Lute Olson realized he would have to make some adjustments if his team wanted any chance of winning. Olson turned to the bench by switching out Mustafa Shakur for Chris Rodgers. In the Cats last meeting with the Cougars Rodgers did not play for attitude problems. In the two team's previous meeting Thomas Kelati was the force that drove WSU to victory by scoring 27 points. Kelati scored his first points of the game and helped Washington State keep the lead with a score of 15-8.

Frye attempted to take the lead for the Cats by hitting back to back shots but Arizona was still down by one. At the ten minute mark Frye had eight of the 14 points Arizona had. A jump shot by Ivan Radenovic cut the lead to two points with a score 19-17. WSU center, Robbie Cowgill, made sure that would be as close as the Wildcats would get in the first half by driving in and making the score 23-18. Salim Stoudamire was able to snag a steal and go one on one with Kelati but was called for an offensive foul. Frye added two more points to his total by a put back after a missed shot by Hassan Adams.

At halftime the score was 32-30 with Arizona trailing. Perhaps, the officiating was a small reason as to why the U of A was down. Coach Olson doesn't get mad for any reason and he was not happy with the officiating in the first or second half for that matter. The Cougars led the entire first half and continued to be a thorn in the side of the Wildcats. They were leading for a number of reasons. Washington State was playing terrific defense and controlling the tempo of the game. They like to play at slower pace and it was throwing their opponents off.

Arizona was failing to get good looks at the basket and just not shooting well overall. The Cats were failing to recover loose balls and it was hurting them. However, Frye was stepping up big for them on both sides of the court. He had the size advantage over the Cougars and was six for six from the field at the end of the half. He also had 14 points.

Frye continued to be dominant in the second as he got things going with a slam dunk tying the game 32-32. Varem was able to get inside with a finger roll and put WSU back up. Frye was able to sink a turnaround shot after an assist by Adams. Frye then put the Cats within two points after an assist from Radenovic. WSU guard, Kyle Weaver was able to get inside and go over Adams for a lay up making it 42-38 still in the Cougar's favor. Frye tied the game at 42 after making good of his trip to the free throw line.

Arizona got their first lead of the game at 5:10 when Frye put them up 44-42 with a jumper. A three pointer by WSU guard, Derrick Lowe, put Washington State in front again. Kelati then somehow got around both Stoudamire and Frye put WSU up by four points. Frye once again was Arizona's clutch guy as he tied the game at 49 even after being double teamed. The Cougars threw the ball out of bounds because of a bad pass with just 19 seconds left. Olson called a timeout to come up with a game plan. Once the Cats jumped back on the court they gave Stoudamire the ball and he drove into the hole but lost the ball in the process. The game was forced to overtime, making it Arizona's first overtime game of the season.

Frye won the jump for the Cats to kick off the overtime. A Stoudamire trip to the free throw line gave the Wildcats the lead. Kelati was able to hit a big three pointer and put WSU back on top after they set a beautiful screen that laid Stoudamire out. The lead continued to shift as the Cats took control by one point after a finger roll by Adams. Kelati was then sent to the line and made the score 56-53 in favor of WSU. Shakur went through the baseline and one handed the ball into the hoop cutting the lead down to only one point. Radenovic was then sent to the free throw line sinking both shots with just 9.7 left. Lowe attempted to go for the win by putting up a shot from beyond the arch, but to no avail. The Cats won with a final score of 57-56 in what was probably the hardest win the Cats have had all season long.

Arizona may have gotten their revenge but not how they wanted it. The Cats would have loved a blow out but that isn't easy to do when you're playing the best defensive team in the Pac-10. The win tied Olson with former UCLA coach John Wooden for most wins in Pac-10 history as a coach. However, none of this would have been possible without Frye. This was hands down one of the most impressive games in Frye's career. Hopefully the NBA scouts were looking on. Stoudamire, who averages 18 points a game, ended the game with only eight points. Frye went 11 for 13 from the field and wound up with 26 points. That is almost half of all the points Arizona scored. Frye was also played well defensively with eight rebounds and four blocks. The win marks the seventh victory in a row for the Wildcats.

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