Pre-holiday blues continue

Arizona continued its trend of pre-Christmas let downs as LSU stunned the top-ranked Wildcats 66-65 in Baton Rouge. Arizona missed injured Luke Walton, never found an offensive flow and its late comeback came up one bucket short.

Arizona benefited from a series of LSU turnovers, but could not quite finish the comeback. The Wildcats had a last chance to win the game, but LSU gave Jason Gardner no room to operate and deflected the ball out of bounds with :00.5 seconds to play. Gardner's inbound pass was deflected away and LSU held on for the upset win.

Gardner managed 16 points, but did it on 5-of-14 shooting.

Things looked bleak for the Wildcats when LSU tried to call a timeout while falling out of bounds. The Tigers had no timeouts and were assessed a technical foul. The Wildcats converted both free throws and got the bucket on the ensuing possession. LSU, ahead 66-65, turned the ball over and the Wildcats had the one last opportunity.

Arizona struggled the entire game to find their offense, including going the first 8:00 of the second half without a field goal. The Cats took a number of bad shots, which gave LSU numerous transition opportunities.

Both teams tried to push the ball up and down the court early, but had little success on the offensive end. However each team was very good on defense, causing both LSU and Arizona to shoot poorly and turn the ball over. Jason Gardner hit two early threes, but after that the Cats cooled off and had just 19 points at the 5:00 mark.

Arizona clawed their way to a 17-11 lead, but LSU came right back. The Tigers who had 10 turnovers in the first 10:00, started taking care of the ball and tied the game at 19. Gardner hit his third three of the half, but LSU rattled off 10 straight to build up a 29-22 lead.

Arizona started off the second half with an anemic performance. The Cats went without a field goal for the first 7:55. The Tigers were not much better, but they outscored Arizona 12-6 over the first 8:00 to build a 44-32 lead. Hassan Adams' put back broke the scoring drought that saw Arizona score just four points on 4-of-6 shooting from the stripe.

Things looked bleak for the Wildcats, trailing 50-37 with just over 8:00 to play. The Cats went on an 11-2 run and were within three, 61-58. Channing Frye and Gardner were the key performers in the run. Frye had two jumpers and Gardner scored five straight on the break to get the Cats back into the game.

The Cats kept chipping away, getting to the foul line and attacking the basket. Down 66-61, Salim Stoudamire hit a pair of free throws. Frye added a short jumper before the technical foul. After two more free throws, Iguodala drove the lane to get the Cats within one at 66-65.

But it proved to be too much too late and the Wildcats fall to 5-1, while LSU improves to 7-1. The Wildcats will face Davidson in the first game of the Fiesta Basketball Tournament next Saturday night.

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