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Arizona never gave up and had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Jason Gardner slipped and was called for a travelling violation before hitting what would have been a game tying three-point shot.
The big story was the two big men for the Trojans. Bluthenthal was deadly from the outside and Clancy was a monster inside. Bluthenthal pumped in 31 points while Clancy had 28.
"The conbination of Bluthenthal and Clancy really hurt us," Lute Olson said. "Clancy's presence inside was huge."
Gardner led the way with 27 points for the Wildcats. Rick Anderson and Salim Stoudamire each added 18 in the losing effort.
USC guard Erick Craven got the scoring started with a transition bucket. The Wildcats then rattled off seven straight points, highlighted by a Salim Stoudamire three-pointer from the top of the key. USC quickly answered with six in a row of their own and took an early 8-7 lead, 3:00 into the game.
USC continued to lead using strong inside play and offensive rebounding. The Trojans led by as many five, but the Wildcats was able to tie the game at 15 on a three-pointer by Luke Walton. The Trojans didn't blink and utilized in-your-face pressure defense to rush out to an 11-0 run. During the run, the Trojans forced the Wildcats into three turnovers and a number of rushed shots.
The Wildcats struggled, going over 6:30 without a field goal. A runner by Stoudamire broke the drought, but the Cats found themselves in a 10-point hole, down 30-20 with just a hair over six minutes left in the half.
As if on cue, Jason Gardner led the Cats back with as they went on a 17-4 run and regained the lead. Gardner started things off with his first field goal of the game, a three-pointer from the top.
A technical foul proved to be the catalyst for a huge swing in momentum. Rick Anderson took a deep pass and raced to the hoop, where he was met by Sam Clancy who connected with his body to pick up the foul. USC Coach Henry Bibby drew the technical and the Wildcats made all four free throws. Arizona came all the way back when a Walton three-pointer gave the Wildcats a 37-35 lead.
Gardner continued as the Wildcat's deep threat. He hit two more treys in the final 1:30, including one with four seconds left to give the Cats the 45-42 lead at intermission.
USC stormed out of locker room and scored seven straight to start the second half scoring to re-take the lead. Arizona was able to tie it at 49, but David Bluthenthal hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Trojans a 57-51 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
Arizona hit three straight three-pointers, two by Gardner and one from Stoudamire, to propel themselves on a 13-0 run and give them a 69-62 lead.
It was a game of runs for both teams, and Bluthenthal capped a 9-0 run with three from the corner to give the Trojans a 71-69 lead. It was the USC's fourth attempt to keep the lead. Despite holding the Trojans on three straight possessions, the Wildcats could not capitalize and went scoreless for over 5:00.
Gardner broke the scoreless streak when he nailed a three-pointer with 6:10 to play that tied the game 71-71.
The Trojans used good screening and quick ball movement to create three-point opportunities. Bluthenthal was once again money from the corner. For the second time in the game the Trojan forward hit back-to-back threes and gave SC an 81-77 lead.
Down 85-79 Arizona tried to come back. Walton found Anderson for an easy lay-in. Following the bucket Arizona went to the full-court press and forced Brandon Granville into a timeout. Arizona sent Granville to the line where the senior point guard hit two free throws.
The Cats answered with Anderson. First he hit a bank shot three-pointer, then after an offensive rebound the Wildcat forward drew a foul. He hit both free throws and the Wildcats trailed by three, 89-86.
Arizona could get no closer as Granville was money from the charity line. Craven closed out the scoring with a fast break dunk with less than a second left and the officials called the game with just .03 seconds left when Trojan fans stormed the court.