By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat March 3, 1997
UA sends Huskies to the pound
The Arizona men's basketball team used an aggressive front line and swarming defense to neutralize Washington's duo of 7-foot centers en route to a 103-82 victory over the Huskies yesterday in Arizona's final regular season game at McKale Center.
"Our big guys were aggressive on the post-up and went straight to the basket," UA head coach Lute Olson said. "And on the flip side, whenever (Todd) McCulloch or (Patrick) Femerling caught the ball, it was like they were in a bee-hive."
Arizona showed the 14,421 in attendance that their perimeter attack was too potent for the Huskies as the Wildcats finished 13 of 22 (59 percent) from three-point territory. Juniors Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon paced the Wildcats (19-7 overall, 11-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference) with a combined 47 points on 19 of 39 shooting. UA freshman guard Mike Bibby used 5 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc to score 20 for the game.
"I think right now that we have a lot of confidence," Dickerson said. "Tonight my shot was falling and we were getting a lot of open looks."
While the Huskies never closed within 12 points after an early first-half run, junior forward Mark Sanford scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half to keep Washington in the game.
"Sanford had just a great game for them," Olson said. "We didn't do a very good job of keeping the ball out of his hands and let him beat us down the floor on a couple occasions."
The Huskies tried to confuse Arizona by setting up in a zone defense midway through the second half, but their plan eventually backfired.
The Wildcats had some early turnovers against the new defensive set, but settled down and hit five three-pointers in a seven minute span.
"When they shifted to the zone, we became impatient," Olson said. "It was the first time that we had seen a zone in a while, and it was good practice for us. We went to four perimeter guys and ended up with a lot of open shots."
But the key to Arizona's win was the team's play on the offensive backboards. The Wildcats used a smaller, quicker lineup to out-rebound a bigger Washington team, 49-31. Arizona also held a 28-13 lead on the offensive glass.
"Our guys' effort to the glass really set the tempo," said UA assistant coach Phil Johnson, who works with the post players. "We made McCulloch move his feet on defense and used our offensive rebounds to get to the foul line."
Sophomore center A.J. Bramlett led the front court with 11 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes of play. As a unit, Bramlett, sophomore Donnell Harris, junior Bennett Davison and freshman Eugene Edgerson combined for 32 points and 25 rebounds in the four and five spots.
"We need to have on offensive presence on the inside if we are going to be successful in the Tournament," Bramlett said.