Cats deal with the Devils

TUCSON, ARIZ—The Wildcats blew a 17 point first half lead, but held on to defeated Arizona State 83-75 at McKale Center. The Wildcats stormed out early, but Curtis Millage led a furious comeback that put the Devils in a position to win late.

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Salim Stoudamire nailed a three pointer from the corner that gave Arizona a 72-66 lead with 4:29 to play and the Wildcats played well enough down the stretch to steal the win.

Stoudamire led the Cats in scoring with 24 points. His stellar outside shooting allowed him to get to the free throw line as well. He connected on 3-of-4 threes and got to the line ten times, making nine.

Millage did his best Jason Gardner impersonation, bit it was not enough. Despite pumping in 27 points, the junior guard did not get enough help to pull off the upset.

The game was physical, with 60 fouls being called. Three players fouled out and another was ejected.

The Wildcats got out to the fast start they wanted, outscoring the Devils 11-4 in the games' early stages. Rick Anderson and Stoudamire combined to score all 11 points. Anderson knocked down a 17-footer off a screen and moments later he put back an Isaiah Fox miss. Anderson added a free throw before any other Wildcat would score. Stoudamire contributed two free throws of his own and then a transition lay-in.

"I have to be crafty and stop being aggressive," Anderson said. "It's all mental. I was pretty solid on the boards I thought."

Outside shooting and good defense propelled Arizona on a brief 8-2 run. Jason Gardner hit a three from the top and Stoudamire connected from the corner on back-to-back threes. The defense played tough as well holding ASU without a field goal for almost 3:00. The Cats led 19-6 when Rob Evans called the time out to steady his club.

Chad Prewitt was a bright spot for the Devils. The senior center was able to utilize his veteran savvy against the young Wildcat front court. Prewitt was able to get into the middle and either connect on a short jumper or draw the foul. His nine points kept the Devils in the game.

The Wildcats were able to exploit just about every match-up. Even when things went wrong the Cats thrived. After a Channing Frye missed dunk, Anderson not only got the put back, but added a free throw to complete the old fashioned three-point play.

The bad blood between the in-state rivals finally surfaced with 6:01 left in the half. A loose ball led to a scrum. In the pile Kyle Dodd got tangled with Luke Walton and began throwing punches. Dodd was ejected following the altercation.

The Wildcats saw their 17-point lead dwindle as the Devils clawed back thanks to Millage. He hit a three and a breakaway lay-in to trim the Arizona lead before the half.

"After the technical they got it going," said assistant caoch Jay John. "They picked it up and had the momentum. Luke and Ricky struggled. I think both teams got tired but they both played hard."

ASU continued to ride Millage and stormed out of the locker room. The Devils rushed out to a 13-3 run and cut the lead to one, 49-48 with 14:00 to play.

The Devils, who were playing for their tournament lives, were not content with a close game. Following a Walton bucket, Prewitt knocked down a three pointer to tie the game at 51. Gardner would not be outdone and on the next possession and countered with a three of his own to re gain the lead.

Seven straight by Millage gave the paced the Devils to their first lead of the game. His pull-up jumper gave ASU a 60-58 lead at the 9:32 mark. Arizona regained the lead just 45 seconds later when Dennis Latimore's free throw capped an old-fashioned three-point play.

The shooting woes that plagued the Cats in the early part of the half continue. Despite the Arizona offense sputtering ASU could not capitalize. The Devils got within one on several occasions but could not regain the lead.

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