Game Talk: Arizona 71, ASU 63

Arizona led by 20 points at the half, then pushed it 26 and everyone in attendance thought the game might be a rout. Then the Sun Devils started to hit some three-pointers while the Cats went cold from the field and at the free throw line and it was a five point game. Things got more than just a little nervous down the stretch, but Arizona hung on to come way with a 71-63 win. Coach Lute Olson and the player had plenty to say about the game.

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Lute Olson
"It was certainly a game of two halves. In the first half we certainly made it difficult for them to do what they wanted to do. We did a good job of moving the basketball. In the second half they attacked us real well and hit threes and got to the foul line a bunch. We were 3-9 from the free throw line in the first ten or twelve minutes of the second half and took some quick shots, one-pass shots and that's not very smart basketball."

On the play of freshman center Ike Diogu
"With Diogu in the post, we really made it difficult for him to catch and do what he wanted to do. We limited him to six shots. That's the good news. The bad news is we put him at the line quite a bit in the second half. There was one stretch I think we put him at the line where I think they hit like 10 straight free throws, which is not very smart."

On the play of Jason Gardner down the stretch
"Down the stretch Jason did a job of stepping up and knocking down free throws. That was the key."

On the team's rebounding effort
"We had great balance on our rebounding, but we need to get more defensive rebounding from our two freshmen that are both great jumpers. But the ball is not going to drop in your hands you have been after it."

On the play of Rick Anderson
"I thought Ricky's game was solid. We wanted him to do a lot of screening on the ball to get the defense off Jason a little bit. He was key guy, but he needs to do a better of moving without the ball to get him open more. Overall he was key guy for us defensively. I think he executed what we wanted done real well."

On the play of the post players
"I thought Rick's first half was outstanding and I thought Channing and Isaiah played really well in the post. From (the post position) we ended up 10-15 from the field so we certainly got the better of that match up. It helped that Tommy Smith was in foul trouble. He and Ike are their best offensive rebounders and they got zero offensive boards so we did a really good job in that regard."

On the ASU comeback
"Crandall came in and gave them a huge lift with the threes, but if you see the scouting report it says don't let him shoot the perimeter shot, make him put the ball on the floor. So we didn't do a good job of that but he hit some from deep."

On the 1-3-1 zone
"We used the 1-3-1 and alternated between made (shots) and misses. The reason we did that is their zone offense really gets into a lot of 1-3-1 sets and we just felt if we were in the 1-3-1 and could take away their baseline and middle we could accomplish what we wanted. Then we had Luke (Walton) or Andre (Iguodala) up top so if the ball did get inside to Ike we had a guy close at hand for the double team. We've worked on it in practice. I don't know if we've used it in a game, but we felt that was our best option against what they try to do offensively."

On ASU coming back and making a game of it
"The other team played really well the second half. Sometime we forget that the other team wants to win too. They played very well. They shot the ball well, they got to the line a lot and knocked free throw down. I think it was a case with our guys with that kink of lead you think you can take quick shots and you don't step to the line with any pressure on you to hit free throws. If we hit free throws, some of them were one-and-one, the game never gets close. We're knocking them down in practice like you can't believe."

On why Salim Stoudamire didn't play in the second half
"I just wasn't happy with a couple of things that happened."

On the Kansas loss to Colorado
"I'm sure Roy (Williams) looks at that game like we look at this one (against ASU). Saturday is for fun. It should be a great game for the players to play and the fans to watch. But it doesn't count in his league standings and it doesn't count in our league standings."

On playing at Kansas
"Other than it being so cold, it should be great. Maybe we should call them and see if they want to come out here to this 70-degree weather instead of the 70 below or whatever it will be with the wind chill."

Jason Gardner
"I think the biggest thing was we wanted to come to out with a lot of energy and at the beginning of the ball game I think we did that. In the second half we let up as far as giving them second shots, missing free throw and taking quick shots."

On the poor free throw shooting
"It was very surprising, everybody on the team can shoot free throws. Everybody's a good free throw shooter. We knock them down in practice. We just need to concentrate at the free throw line and knock them down."

On the slow starts
"We need to start having better first halves. We (had a good first half) today and then turned around and did the opposite and had a bad second half. In the second half we just came out more relaxed and took some quick shots. We weren't as aggressive as were in the first half and we just let them back in the game."

On the effectiveness of the Wildcats 1-3-1 zone defense
"We work on it a lot in practice and it worked tonight so we stuck with it. It was pretty effective both halves. (Kenny) Crandall hit two or three threes but over all it worked pretty good."

Did this game prepare you for Kansas?
"Definitely, it was a physical game."

Channing Frye
"It is frustrating (to get two quick fouls) but that's just me. They were kind of iffy calls that could have gone against Ricky or me but I think when Tommy Smith had two quick calls the referees tried to even up the game. I just have to get over that and keep playing."

On all the talk about Ike Diogu leading up to this game
"I think I was motivated not because of Ike but all week all anybody could talk about was ‘Ike this, Ike that, Ike this.' I took that personally. You know me I work real hard. Then somebody comes in here and tries to take our thrown, so we just go out there and make a statement. He's young and he's a good player."

On the 1-3-1 zone
"I don't know why we used a zone. I really don't question the coaches on why they use a zone. I think they just wanted to mix it up with them."

On getting a big lead and watch it dissipate
"I think we just don't have that killer instinct this time and we need to do that for two halves. Everybody is saying 'why isn't Arizona a first half team' and this time we did it in the first half. So we're just trying to find our balance. I think we did get into a comfort zone. I feel like we need to have that killer instinct and go out there and once they're down by 20 just keep putting them down and putting them down instead of giving them shots. I think we just need to have the right mentality."

Rick Anderson
On letting the Sun Devil get back in the game
"The No. 1 team shouldn't do that. We're not playing like the No. 1 team. In the first half we did, we played unbelievable."

On playing the zone defense
"The 1-3-1 is just slow the penetration down."

On the officiating
"It was physical, but it wasn't that physical. (The referees) were calling touch fouls in the second half then all of a sudden you get pushed in the back and they let it go. Then they start calling ticky tacks, then they let it go, then they call more ticky tacks. The last five or ten minutes they called some terrible calls."

"Sure, they're a better team (than they were last season). They're a decent team, but we just didn't put two and two together. I don't want to talk about ASU right now. What you see is what you see. I think they've improved."

ASU guard Curtis Millage
"(The zone) was very tough. It was very extended. They have long arms out there like UCLA, but (Arizona) played more aggressive. They were very active. I give it all to them. Arizona was the better team tonight. You can't say anything about that."

 On playing the No. 1 ranked team
"I don't believe in the rankings. I don't care if they're No. 1 or 200."

Ike Diogu
"The 1-3-1 zone didn't surprise us. We went over that in practice so nothing they did really surprised us. In practice my teammates always double me, so I'm used to that. We just did a poor job of executing in the first half. Arizona is a really deep team and they can throw a lot of big men at you. They have a real nice team with solid ball player who play hard and they all go to the glass."

On playing at McKale Center
"I guess it's the rivalry. Arizona is ranked No. 1 in the country and the fans are wild. When you're in that kind of an atmosphere it really gets you ready to play."

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