Strong second half propels Arizona

Arizona proved to be too quick and too athletic for Davidson in their 95-69 win in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Arizona used a big second half run to distance themselves from the upstarts from North Carolina.

Davidson gave the Wildcats all they could handle early, but Arizona rattled off a 9-0 run to begin the second half to end any thoughts of a Davidson upset.

Salim Stoudamire led the Cats with 23 points, but it was the play of two true freshmen that propelled Arizona. Hassan Adams put on a slam dunk exhibition, giving Davidson fits in the passing lanes. Adams scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals. Little used Chris Rodgers made the most of his playing time and had the best game of his Wildcat career. Coming off the bench, Rodgers played tenacious defense and ended up playing 24 minutes, scoring 14 points.

"I felt a lot more comfortable," Rodgers said. "Any time you get a couple of buckets you get into a rhythm."

Freshman Ian Johnson led Davidson with 21 points and nine boards. Hot shooting Peter Anderer added 17 points, but after a big first half was limited to just five second half points.

Channing Frye, who's been somewhat up and down this season, came alive for the Wildcats. The center who had been inconsistent all season, put up 12 points and led the Wildcats with nine rebounds.

"Channing has to play really aggressive," said Lute Olson. "When he does he's a very good player."

The Cats began the game trying to force the tempo. Arizona kept up a frantic pace with mixed results. UA committed four turnovers in their first six possessions, but got Jason Gardner started early. Gardner hit his first two shots, including a three from the corner, but Davidson countered with four threes, including three by Anderer and led 12-7 at the first TV timeout.

Arizona regained the lead thanks in large part to Davidson fouls. Over the next 4:15 the Wildcats outscored Davidson 8-2 with six points coming at the charity stripe.

Arizona cranked up the defensive intensity and in turn created a number of transition opportunities which gave them a little cushion for the first time in the contest. The Cats out-quicked and out-hustled Davidson to build a 35-27 lead. Arizona took the lead 24-22 on a Hassan Adams finger roll and the freshman followed it up with a fast break lay-in. Anderer hit a deep three before Arizona scored nine of the next 11 points.

The Wildcats pushed their lead to double figures, but Davidson fought back and got it to within four thanks to a 9-2 run late in the half. Johnson led the way, netting six of his 15 1st half points during the run. Adams got the last bucket of the half and Arizona held a slim 45-39 lead after 20:00.

Arizona stormed out of the gates to start the second half and essentially ended any chance of a Davidson upset. The Cats scored the half's first nine points to build a 54-39 lead.

Channing Frye got things started. He opened the scoring with a put-back and then his monster swat of Wayne Bernard shot attempt landed in front of Adams who took it the distance for a thunderous tomahawk jam. Stoudamire scored the next five points before another Anderer three ended the Wildcat run.

Arizona continued to put the pressure on Davidson and built up a 20-point advantage when Luke Walton buried a three-pointer in transition. Arizona outscored Davidson 29-15 over the first 10:00 of the half to lead 74-52.

Down by as many as 27, Johnson sparked another run for Davidson. The visiting Wildcats scored eight straight including six by Johnson to cut the lead to 19, 79-60.

Arizona cruised the rest of the way, scoring eight of the final ten points in the game.

The three Wildcat seniors had off nights. Walton returned to the line-up after missing a game with an ankle injury. However, he was a non-factor in the first half but did finish with six points and seven rebounds. Gardner's shooting woes continued. After hitting his first two shots, Gardner missed his final six. He did have seven assists and three steals. Rick Anderson was held out of the game for "personal reasons".

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