By Maxx Wolfson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday February 24, 2003
TEMPE ÷ There is no doubt for the rest of the season: The Wildcats will be heckled on the road about the "Candygate" incident.
Saturday night was no different as Sun Devil fans showered the UA players with candy bars after UA's 20-point victory. Even though none of the candy bars hit any of the Arizona players, some were thrown back into the yellow-clad ASU student section.
Ironically, it was the Sun Devil players that looked like they had been a little too close to the snack bar, as they were a step slow in the second half. It showed that they were missing another star player to complement freshman Ike Diogu and are still a few players away from catching up with the Wildcats.
There is no doubt that Diogu is going to be a star for ASU, but he can't be counted on to play 38 minutes, especially against a team as deep as UA. Diogu was a different player in the second half as he stood at the top of the 3-point line and not under the basket battling for rebounds.
UA flexed its depth Saturday night, not just by bringing countless players off the bench as it has done throughout the season, but rather with the six players ÷ Jason Gardner, Rick Anderson, Luke Walton, Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, and Andre Iguodala ÷ that all played more than 20 minutes.
"You have to do a lot of things well against an Arizona team that is playing like that," ASU coach Rob Evans said.
The Sun Devils had a chance to make their statement in the state, but all that came from the game was another reason to believe the best basketball is played in southern Arizona.
"This game was fun," said Anderson with a smile.
The Wildcats have now beaten the Sun Devils 15 of the last 16 times, further diluting the rivalry and shifting the last bit of importance from games against ASU to matchups with Stanford and UCLA.
If people were to take a quick glance at the box score and see that Gardner, the team's leading scorer, scored only eight points, they might think the Wildcats struggled offensively.
But they would be oh-so wrong.
UA scored 92 points ÷ the third most it has scored in Pac-10 play ÷ mostly because of the offensive depth it now has.
Arizona's three frontcourt players all scored 19 points or more ÷ Walton (23), Frye (23) and Anderson (19) ÷ as the Wildcats played their most all-around offensive game since the early days of the season. The starting frontline finished the game shooting 26-for-40 from the floor and 11-for-11 at the foul line.
"I've never had a team with three guys who had double-doubles in the same night before, in the whole frontline," UA head coach Lute Olson said.
Walton, who said he played his best game of the season, was nearly unstoppable down low as no Sun Devil player could control his post spin move that led to layup after layup.
"Everyone on this team is starting to play like the best team in the country," Walton said.
And that has to leave a sweeter taste in their mouths than any candy bar ever could.