Santa Barbara guard Mark Hull lit up the Cats for 18 first-half points on his way to a game-high 32. Hull hit 8-13 field goal attempts, all three-pointers, and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line.
Lute Olson had this to say about Hull's perfomance:
"(Mark Hull) is a tough guy to guard and when you foul him you're giving him points there too."
Olson on the Wildcats' overall defensive effort:
"Our defense is coming along but as long you score more points than the other team you're okay."
Olson on the Wildcats' second half as compared to the first half:
"We're always a better team after halftime than we've been in the first half. If we're going to survive, we need to be a good team the first five minutes. We were horrendously bad in the first five minutes (tonight) and it wasn't our freshmen that were making mistakes at that time as much as it was the quick shots we were taking."
On his team's second half performance:
"I think we did a good job on the boards for the most part and we did a great job in the second half of moving the ball and taking care of the basketball."
On playing in close games:
"Our team all year long has been a team of close games. When you get to this tournament first of all you've got to face the cream of the crop. It's a matter of survival. We survived once and now we've got another one-game season and we'll see if we can make that happen."
When asked if he was surprised by the Gauchos:
"We had a lot of tapes on Santa Barbara so we knew that they were going to be tough. The three (juniors on our team) are aware of what the big games are all about and what you need to do to survive."
During introductions, the New Mexico fans in attendance booed the Wildcats and were particularly loud when Olson was introduced. Olson had this to say about the New Mexico crowd and the fans at The Pit:
"It's very obvious here in Albuquerque that the fans here don't want Arizona to come back. I think that was very obvious. I've said before (the hostile environment) doesn't make any difference to us. We've played in Michigan State. We've played in Texas. We've played at Oregon. We've played at Stanford. So I guess that's good exercise for (the fans) to be able to act like that, but that doesn't make any difference to me. I've been in this game for a long time and I think it's just very obvious that they don't Arizona to come to this facility."
Salim Stoudamire was often matched up on Hull during the game. Here's what Stoudamire had to say about the Wildcats' overall defensive effort.
"Obviously we weren't mentally prepared. We weren‘t getting out there on defense and making the correct switches. It was a disaster. And we weren't taking good shots."
Isaiah Fox, at 6-8 and 270 pounds, has a lot of beef to carry up and down the court at the high altitude at The Pit. Fox was asked it the altitude was a factor.
"With this altitude everyone had to get their wind. It was really tough to get your wind, but I think by Saturday we'll be used to it."
Fox on the Gauchos homecourt advantage at The Pit:"
(Santa Barbara) kind of had a homecourt advantage. But they have a good team and they really shoot the ball so those things happen."
Channing Frye played the bulk of the minutes (29) and was the Wildcats most productive big man, scoring 16 points and grabbbing seven rebounds Frye also commented on playing at the higher elevation and the Gauchos "homecourt" advantage.
"I'm tired. They were a good team and they had a home crowd advantage here. I just think we weren't concentrating enough to play to our capabilities. The same thing with Wyoming, they're going to come to play."