Arizona Advances to Pac-10 Title Game

LOS ANGELES - Arizona destroyed the Oregon State Beavers creating the biggest point deficit in Pac-10 Tournament history. They will now face the winner of the Washington/Stanford game Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm PST as they look to win the Pac-10 Tournament and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. A victory tomorrow will improve their chances at receiving a number one seed Sunday night.

In a game that was almost too close for comfort towards the end of the first half where the Cats had a 40-35 lead, Arizona came out explosive and took care of business disposing of the Beavers early in the second half. Arizona rode the backs of seniors Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire, who both contributed 17 points a piece. Frye also added seven rebounds on the night.

"From an offensive standpoint in the second half, we are able to do a better job offensively with the ball and waiting for things to happen," said Head Coach Lute Olson. "We shot almost 69% in the second half, and 50% from three-point, we were almost letter perfect in the second half with our shooting."

Arizona opened up the second half on a 12-0 run making the score 52-35 with 16:00 left to play. The closest the Beavers would come again was within 11 points at 52-41, and for the second straight night the reserves saw strong minutes, allowing the starters to rest up for tomorrow's match-up. The defensive pressure by the Cats clearly made the difference in the game.

"We played extremely well today, especially on the defensive end," Stoudamire said. "That is really the key, our defense triggers our offense."

That strong defensive performance held the Beavers to a poor shooting performance, and allowed the reserves to see action earlier than usual. From the bench came Jawann McClellan who scored 15 points and contributed five rebounds for the UA. In the two game span, McClellan has totaled 29 points, nine rebounds, and only two turnovers in 43 minutes of play.

A renewed depth is greatly helping this Arizona team that struggled last season. All things told, the bench was responsible for 24 of Arizona's 90 points and also added 12 rebounds.

"Coach always says don't get a rest on the court, rest on the bench," Frye explained. "I know if I'm tired, I can raise my hand and someone just as capable will come in and get buckets."

Alongside Frye's and Stoudamire's 17, Mustafa Shakur tallied 10 points and four rebounds, and Hassan Adams scored 14 points and pulled down six boards. Only one starter, Ivan Radenovic, failed to score double-figures with eight points, but his defensive intensity provided a huge lift for the UA.

"…Ivan (Radenovic) has made it hard to come inside to the bucket," added Olson.

Arizona dominated every aspect of the game, especially on the boards. The UA out rebounded the Beavers 31-27. Arizona shot 59.3% from the field while OSU only managed to shoot 38.9%.

Oregon State may officially be on the bubble for the NIT tournament, and a win over the Cats could have secured a bid. "I think that we helped our NIT chances with coming down here and getting a win over UCLA," Oregon State Head Coach Jay John said. "I believe that UCLA is a NCAA tournament team. In the last part of the season we have played well."

Arizona will move on to play the winner of the Washington/Stanford game. The Arizona players are looking for revenge against both of those teams as they lost to both during the regular season. A win over Washington would nearly assure a number one seed Sunday night.

"We got one more big game to reach the second (goal we wanted to accomplish) this season," Radenovic says. "We expect to play anyone. If we play Washington, we lost against them, if we play Stanford, we lost against them. We know those guys, and we're ready for them."


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