Cats beat back Saint Louis

The Wildcats never looked comfortable, but managed a 91-58 win over Saint Louis. The Bilikens slowed things down and the Wildcats never looked comfortable. The Cats never got things going to the pace they liked and came away with a number of things to work on.

"We did not play up to par even though we won," said Hassan Adams. "We did not win like a number one ranked team."

Arizona cruised to the easy win but the team was disappointed with the way they played. Despite having a distinct height advantage the Cats out rebounded Saint Louis by just three boards.

"In the locker room you would have thought we lost the way coach got on us," said Will Bynum.

The biggest concern for the Cats was the lack of defensive rebounding. The smaller Bilikens had 20 offensive rebounds.

"I'm very disappointed at our efforts on the defensive boards," said Lute Olson. "We need five people on the defensive glass, not just two."

The Wildcats had five players in double figures, led by Jason Gardner's 16. Channing Frye and Andre Iguodala each just missed double-doubles. Frye had eleven points, but just nine boards, while Iguodala had the ten rebounds, but fell one basket shy at eight points.

Saint Louis played their game early on. The Bilikens were able to break the press and then regroup to play the slower style of play they prefer. The Cats and Bilikens traded baskets and 5:00 into the game the Wildcats held just a 12-11 lead.

Following the television timeout, Lute Olson made wholesale changes, putting five new players on the court. The hockey-style line change paid off as the second wave of Wildcats went on a quick 7-2 run.

Arizona slowly built up a 10-point lead, but did it in the half-court offense. Two-straight Marque Perry buckets got Saint Louis within four, but Arizona answered scoring eight of the next 10 points to go up 33-23.

"I didn't feel the first group was putting good pressure on the ball," Olson said. "We put a lot better pressure on the all with the fresh group."

Arizona built up a 48-31 halftime lead by hitting the offensive glass. The Wildcats scored four times by hitting the offensive glass. Isaiah Fox out-muscled the smaller Bilikens twice to score his put-back buckets. Andre Iguodala and Dennis Latimore were each rewarded for their aggressive play.

As they are apt to do, the Wildcats came out of the locker room and increased their lead. Hassan Adams scored back-to-back baskets, including a break away dunk to give Arizona their first 20-point lead, 54-34.

Sloppy play and bad shooting by the Wildcats allowed Saint Louis to creep closer to the Wildcats. Over a 5:30 span the Bilikens outscored Arizona 13-4, taking advantage of silly turnovers and bad shot selection. The Wildcats rushed a lot of shots while Saint Louis kept their deliberate pace. Anthony Dejaj hit SLU's only two three-pointers of the game and Chris Brown hit the offensive glass, scoring on two straight put-backs. Olson went to his bench to find a combination that would work. His moves proved effective and the Wildcats saw their grow again. Arizona went on a 14-2 run to boost their lead to 25 at 79-54 with just over 4:00 to play.

The Wildcats cruised down the stretch. Chris Rodgers scored the final five points of the game. His two free throws gave Arizona a 30-point lead at 88-58 and his old fashioned three-point play capped the scoring.

Salim Stoudamire played 12 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-7 scoring. Luke Walton, despite spraining his ankle against NAU, played 19 minutes but struggled. The senior forward missed all five shot attempts and had just one point. He did add seven assists.

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