The Sweetest Thing

Arizona has advanced to the regional finals after defeating Oklahoma State in what may have been the best game of the season for Wildcat fans to watch. Hassan Adams helped keep the Cats in the game and Salim Stoudamire put the icing on the cake with a huge game ending clutch shot.

Not only did Stoudamire take the last shot of the game for Arizona but he took the first as well. Stoudamire got a three-point shoot off started between the Cats and the Cowboys by hitting a three-point field goal to put Arizona on the board with the first three points of the game. John Lucas of the Cowboys matched that with a three of his own. JamesOn Curry put the Cowboys on top 6-3 after hitting a three-pointer of his own.

A three-pointer by Adams put the Wildcats back on top. Oklahoma State is known for their physical style of play and Joey Graham showed just why when he got inside and over Channing Frye. Another three-pointer by Stoudamire put Arizona up by seven points. Oklahoma State's Daniel Bobik stopped a 12-2 run by the Cats when he hit a three-pointer of his own.

A successful trip to the free-throw line by Mustafa Shakur gave the Cats their biggest lead of the game at 10 points. Oklahoma State has the best three-point shooting percentage in the nation and Curry proved just why when he nailed another shot from long distance to put Oklahoma State within four points. The bench continued to come up big for Arizona as Chris Rodgers knocked down a jumper followed by a dunk by Jawann McClellan after a steal by Stoudamire.

However, the Cowboys had no quit in them and a lay-up by Bobik tied the game at 30 points. A field goal by Rodgers put the Wildcats back on top but the lead continued to shift. A classic Adams lay-up after amazing ball-handling skills made the score 38-36 in Arizona's favor. Graham was able to battle inside and tie the game once again. Adams then came up in a big way by hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Arizona the lead going into halftime.

At the half the Cats were in control with the lead of 41-38. Oklahoma State is a very physical team and were doing very well on the boards and dominating the Cats on second chance points. However, Arizona was shooting much better from the field. At the half Oklahoma State was shooting 43% and Arizona was shooting 70% from the field. Lucas was leading the Cowboys in points with nine and Adams was leading the Wildcats with 10 points. Despite only playing ten minutes in the first half, Stoudamire still managed to score eight points.

The second half started with Shakur missing two free throws. A beautiful jumper by Lucas put the Cowboys within one point. The Cats continued to struggle from the line, as Ivan Radenovic couldn't make good of his trip to the line. Frye kept Arizona on top after a dunk coming off of an assist from Radenovic. A acrobatic spin move from Stoudamire allowed him to get the ball inside to Adams and keep Arizona on top 47-40.

Still the Cowboys battled and got within two after a ten-foot jumper by Curry landed. A three-pointer by Graham put Oklahoma State on top for the first time in the second half. A three-pointer by Adams shifted the lead back on the Wildcats' side. Adams continued to show that he is an all around player by landing two big blocks in one Oklahoma State possession. A lay-up by Adams but Arizona up by three 59-56 with 9:15 left to play.

Graham continued to play amazing basketball for Oklahoma State and knocked down another three-pointer to put the Cowboys within one point. A successful lay-up after being fouled by Stephen Graham put Oklahoma State on top. Stoudamire kept the game close by hitting his first three-pointer of the second half but Arizona was still trailing by two points. Another three-pointer by Stoudamire made the score 76-75 in Oklahoma State's favor.

A jumper from the left side by Frye put Arizona back on top by one point. A jumper by Graham then shifted the lead back to the Cowboys with only 13 seconds left. With time running out Coach Lute Olson knew exactly whose shoulders he wanted the fate of the Wildcat season to rest on. The Cats quickly got the ball in Stoudamire's hands as he hit landed an amazing jump-shot while being double teamed to put Arizona up by one point with 2.8 seconds left. Oklahoma State tried but it would not be enough.

Stoudamire's game winning shot kept the Wildcats season intact and capped off the sweetest win of Arizona's season. This particular game may have been most noted for its legendary coaching match up with the media dubbing it Lute Olson v. Eddie Sutton, but Stoudamire made sure people didn't forget about him. Stoudamire continued to be hot during the NCAA tournament against the Cowboys ending the game with 19 points and leading the team with seven assists. Stoudamire's shot won the game for Arizona but Adams kept the team in the game. Adams ended the night in Chicago with 19 points of his own and 10 rebounds. The Cats now go onto face their toughest challenge of the season as they go up against the best team in the nation on Saturday, Illinois.

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