Second half heroics continue

LOS ANGELES – At the start of the week Lute Olson challenged his freshmen not to play "like freshmen". Apparently Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala listened. The two sparked the Wildcats second half rally, as Arizona squeaked out an 81-72 victory.

Adams provided an offensive spark, while Iguodala made his biggest contributions on the defensive end. Adams came off the bench to score 21 points on 9-17 shooting. Iguodala shut down Desmon Farmer. After scoring 20 points in the first half, Iguodala and the Cats held Farmer to just a lone three-pointer in the second half. Iguodala added a career-high 11 points and six rebounds, while Adams had four rebounds.

"He (Farmer) had 20 points in the first half and that was too much," Iguodala said about taking the challenge to shut down Farmer in the second half. "He was getting too many open looks and we wanted to force him into putting the ball on the floor. We tried to clamp down on him."

It was an extra special performance for Adams, who was coming back home to Los Angeles for the first time as a college player.

"I had at least 15 or 20, maybe 25 people supporting me," Adams said of his friends an family who showed up for the game. "I wanted this game. When I get back here I didn't want anyone to say anything to me."

While the freshmen were on fire, two of the Wildcat seniors were struggling offensively. Jason Gardner scored just five points, while Rick Anderson chipped in only four. However, Gardner and Anderson did contribute significantly to the UA win. He add a career high 10 rebounds and Anderson swatted away three Trojan shots.

"If the shot's not there I have to do other things to help my team win," said Gardner who took only seven shots. "I'm not going to force my shot."

Arizona trailed until the 9:28 mark of the second half, when an Iguodala lay-in gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 67-66. They'd never trail again. The Cats finished the game by outscoring USC 22-6, including the game's final seven points.

Conversely, USC scored only two baskets during the game's final 11 minutes. 

Arizona continued their trend of slow starts. The USC defense was aggressive and kept the Wildcats off-balance, while the Trojan offense was efficient and on target. Desmon Farmer got things started for USC with a hook shot and a three-pointer on the Trojans' first two possessions. Errick Craven added a pair of foul shots, then Nick Curtis hit a bank off the glass and USC led 9-0.

Arizona could do little to cut into the lead, until UA's freshman tandem of Andre Iguodala and Hassan Adams entered the game. The two athletic wings gave the Wildcats a spark and went on a fast 8-0 run, which included a fast-break bucket by each that cut into USC's lead, trimming it to three points at 15-12.

"At some place in the game you have to show how tough you are and meet the competition," Adams said. "That's what we were doing. We just met the challenge."

USC built a double-digit lead thanks to the three-point shot. The pace picked up and Arizona got within one, but after that the Trojans did a great job of holding the lead. After an Adams jumper made it 20-19, the Trojans scored the next four and never let the Cats get within three the remainder of the half. The Trojans built the double figure lead thanks to three straight three-pointers, two in a row by Farmer and the third by Errick Craven.

USC shot 53 percent in the first half, but Arizona was still within four at the break, 44-40.

Rory O'Neal gave the Trojans another cushion in the early stages of the second half. The sophomore was limited to just six minutes in the first half with foul trouble, but came on strong after getting the second-half start. O'Neal used his shooting ability to pull the Wildcat big men away from the paint. He scored eight points in the first eight minutes in the half, and at the second television timeout the Trojans led 64-56.

The Cats came storming back to take their first lead of the game, due in no small part to some great outside shooting. The Cats hit four three-pointers, then got five straight points from Iguodala to spark a 17-4 run that gave them their first lead of the night. Iguodala streaked to the net on the break and Luke Walton found him for the easy lay-in and the lead. On the next possession, Iguodala added a free throw and a dunk and the Cats were up 70-66 with just over 8:00 to play.

The Wildcats pulled away from there, at one point holding USC scoreless for 5:17. Arizona scored the last seven points of the game to close out the win.

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