Player of the Game: Salim Stoudamire

Salim Stoudamire played his best game of his young career as Arizona won the Pac-10 tournament championship behind his 29 points. The pinpoint shooter finished the game 9-10 from the field and impressed both of the game's coaches with his performance.

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Pac-10 Titlist: Salim Stoudamire (29 points, 9-10 FG's, 5-6 3's, 6-6 FT's)

Salim Stoudamire has accomplished quite a bit in his first year in an Arizona uniform. He led the Pac-10 in free throw shooting, won the conference Freshman of the Year award and can now add all-tournament honors to his ever-growing list of accolades.

Stoudamire was named to the all-tournament team along with fellow Wildcats Jason Gardner and Luke Walton, who was the Most Outstanding Player. Salim finished with a career-high 29 points, besting his old mark of 25 earlier in the year. He came out hot and never cooled off, scoring 11 points in the first half on 4-5 shooting. The second half was more of the same and after finishing with 29 points he capped the day off with a resounding one-handed dunk in the final minute.

For the game, Stoudamire made five of six threes and made all six of his free throws.

After the game, Walton and Gardner let Salim do the honors and cut down the net after Arizona's impressive 81-71 win over USC. Fans chanted "three more years! Three more years!" to Salim as he stood atop the ladder. It was only appropriate because nine of his ten shots on the day snapped that net and it deserved to come home with him.

"Salim was so valuable for us," Arizona coach Lute Olson said after the game. "We couldn't have him out of the game in that second half. We had him out for three or four minutes in the first and that was almost a disaster."

Trojan head coach Henry Bibby agreed with Olson in his assessment of Stoudamire.

"(Stoudamire) was making shots," he said. "And the kid is a very, very good basketball player. When you have guys that shoot like that, well, you let them shoot it."

Even the players for USC took notice of the freshman from Lake Oswego, Oregon's play.

"When we press guys are going to get open," said fellow All-Tournament team member Brandon Granville. "They broke the press and (Stoudamire) made every one of his shots."

Other players considered for Player of the Game honors were Luke Walton (23 points, eight second half assists), Isaiah Fox (eight rebounds), Jason Gardner (11 points, ten in the second half) and Channing Frye (seven rebounds, all of which came on the defensive glass).

Arizona is the 2002 Pac-10 Tournament champion and goes into the Big Dance with the kind of momentum that leads one to believe they might be on the road for a few more weeks.

With the kind of play it got out of Salim Stoudamire, Arizona might be one of the tournament's favorites to advance deep into March.

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