One down, five to go

The Wildcats got through the first round with a win over the Utah State Aggies. Although Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire led Arizona in the point's category, the win was definitely a team effort. With one win down the Cats need five more to become national champions.

There were plenty of turnovers for both teams caused by good defense early in the game. Things got kicked off with a missed dunk from Channing Frye, but he was able to regroup and come back with a block on the other end of the court shortly after. One of Salim Stoudamire's three-pointers put the first marks on the board for Arizona. Utah State guard, Jaycee Carroll, returned with a three point shot of his own and put the Aggies up 5-3.

Mustafa Shakur was able to drive in to the basket and turn it into a three-point play after being fouled. Frye then put the Cats up by three points after being left open in the paint. Nate Harris of Utah State tied the game back up after grabbing a rebound and putting it back in the basket. At the 12:00 mark the Aggies were dominating the glass with nine rebounds compared to Arizona's six. A three-point field goal by Jason Williams put Utah State up by three points, but the Wildcats fought back and tied the game after a three-pointer was made by Jawann McClellan.

Lute Olson was giving his reserves some playing time and they were not putting it to waste. Chris Rodgers came off the bench to nail a three and put the Wildcats up by one point. Kirk Walters then came through big defensively with a block and Shakur took full advantage of the fast break by hitting a jumper. Rodgers was then able to drive into the paint and put up two more points for the Cats. The Aggies battled back and were able to grab the lead going into halftime after a three-pointer from David Pak and a jumper by Carroll.

Rodgers, Shakur, and Stoudamire all led the Cats at the half with five points apiece. Harris led Utah State with eight points and Carroll was not far behind with six points. Utah State started the game with turnovers, but as the first half progressed the Aggies only got better. They were playing very well defensively and killing the Cats on the boards. At the half Utah State led 29-26. Another big factor to Utah State's success was their ability to share the ball. All of Utah State's starters had at least one assist at the end of the half. Arizona wasn't playing greedy basketball but they did need to move the ball around more.

The Wildcats came out and simply played better basketball in the second half. The begging of the second half was very similar to that of the first half with no points being scored for nearly the first two minutes by either team. Frye then got inside and turned it into a three-point play after being fouled to tie the game at 29. A three-pointer by Stoudamire gave the Cats their first lead of the second half and they made sure not too loose it.

A jumper by Stoudamire gave the Cats their biggest lead of the night at seven points. However, the lead was far from comfortable and coach Lute Olson along with the rest of the Wildcats knew it. Hassan Adams began to explode by hitting two lay-ups in a row and putting Arizona up 42-31. The Cats were playing well on both ends of the court and stopped Utah State from scoring for nearly six minutes.

Back to back three-pointers by Carroll stopped a 12-2 run by Arizona and put the Aggies within five points. Rodgers made sure that would be as close as they would get by knocking down his second three of the game and putting the Cats up 45-39. Frye made sure things were getting done defensively with a block on the opposite end of the court. A shot from long range by Stoudamire gave the Cats an 11- point lead. An alley-oop worthy of being on Sports Center's Top 10 from Shakur to Adams continued the Wildcats' assault. A monster dunk by Frye gave Arizona their biggest lead of the night at 15 points.

The Wildcats closed the game out with a final score of 66-53 in impressive fashion. Frye and Stoudamire led the Cats in points with 17 each, but every player on the court contributed to the win. It was perhaps the best team basketball Arizona has played all season long. Every player contributed offensively, defensively, or in both ways. Stoudamire was able to hit some key three-pointers, Frye stopped the Aggies with some key blocks, and Chris Rodgers came up big off the bench with 10 points. The future may be bright for the Wildcats if they continue to play in the NCAA Tournament the way they did against Utah State.

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