Player of the Game: Luke Walton

The first time Arizona and ASU played, Luke Walton was clearly the best player on the court. In the Arizona loss, Walton scored 26 points and made 10-13 shots. Tonight was more of the same as Luke scored 25 points and made 11 more field goals as Arizona whipped up on quasi-rival ASU, 73-56, to advance to Friday night's semi-final round.

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Luke Walton had a relatively easy time of it tonight against smaller defenders from ASU. He constantly shot over the top of Sun Devil forward Kenny Crandall, who at 6-3, is five inches shorter than Walton. For the game, Walton made 11 of 15 shots for a game-high 25 points. His performance helped lead the Wildcats past ASU and into the semi-finals Friday night as Arizona won 73-56.

"We had trouble containing Luke Walton tonight," ASU coach Rob Evans said after the game. "But a lot of people have had trouble containing Luke Walton this year."

Arizona coach Lute Olson was also happy with the play of his junior tri-captain.

"We got an excellent game out of Luke Walton," he said. "He was great from beginning to end."

Although Arizona only tallied four assists on the night (not a misprint), Walton had two of them to go along with eight rebounds. Olson talked about why Walton is sometimes shortchanged when it comes to counting his assist total, which led the Pac-10 on the season.

"There's a big difference from this level to the NBA (with assists)," Olson said. "Tonight you had a case of people getting the ball to Luke down low and then he would turn and make his move and score. On this level, as soon as you put the ball on the floor it can no longer be an assist."

Imagine how many more assists Walton might have piled up on the season had the college game adopted the NBA's assist rules. He certainly would have more than one triple-double to his credit.

Many of Luke's eleven baskets came on his patented turnarounds or fade-aways on the baseline. He also threw in a couple 16 to 18-foot jumpers and one lovely bank shot as he was falling to the floor after being pulled down by ASU's foul machine, Tommy Smith.

For his efforts, Luke Walton is tonight's Player of the Game. Arizona extended the nation's longest streak of seasons with at least 20 wins to 15 straight years.


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