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Freshmen fuel late game fire

By Maxx Wolfson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 17, 2003

For the first 20 minutes it was the Desmon Farmer show.

The junior from Flint, Mich., hit nearly every shot he took. Farmer netted 20 of USC's 48 points in the first half on 8-of-13 shooting and gave USC a quick 11-point lead.

But once again, in came "the stopper" also known as UA freshman Andre Iguodala.

For the second straight game, Iguodala came in and made the difference off the bench on the defensive end, helping Arizona to its 81-72 victory last night. Last game it was covering Washington's Doug Wrenn, last night it was Farmer.

"I thought he did a great job," UA head coach Lute Olson said. "We have options now that we didn't have last year. We either had to go small with a guard or have Luke (Walton) guarding them. Farmer is so tough coming off the screen."

Farmer was clearly fatigued in the second half, as he continually tried to find open shots but everywhere he looked he saw number 24 in his face.

It's likely that Iguodala will play a similar role Saturday when No. 2 Arizona takes on UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. He will match up against Bruin senior Jason Kapono, who has hurt the Wildcats in the past.

But Iguodala wasn't the only freshman to shine on this night ¸ it was also a memorable one for Hassan Adams.

Playing in front of at least 20 family members, the former Westchester basketball star did his best to impress the hometown fans. Adams posted a team-high 21 points and hit 2-of-5 from behind the arc.

"It was fun," he said. "My shots were falling in shoot-around so I felt that I had the confidence to hit them."

As Arizona was trailing early last night, the starters once again seemed slow coming out of the blocks. Unable to create fast breaks or turnovers, UA settled for outside shots, with many of them falling short.

In came Adams and Iguodala with 14:28 left in the first half, trailing 15-4. The Wildcats clawed right back.

"Once again they gave us a big lift," sophomore shooting guard Salim Stoudamire said.

First it was an Adams layup, followed by an Iguodala breakaway slam and Arizona was on its way to an 8-0 run.

"We just try to bring some excitement back in the game," Iguodala said. "That's our job, to play defense and get rebounds."

That's the difference with this season's team. Last year, if Jason Gardner struggled offensively, as he did last night scoring just five points, UA was in trouble. But Adams and Iguodala picked up the slack scoring all of Arizona's 32 bench points ÷÷ USC mustered just eight.

"I thought we'd win if Gardner got five points and Stoudamire 13," USC head coach Henry Bibby said. "I always told the team the most important people are the bench people. Tonight, their bench beat us."

The two freshmen also played an important role late in the game when Stoudamire went down with an ankle injury. The duo played big minutes down the stretch, a combined total of 45, that will be helpful for UA once NCAA tournament time comes around.

It was the defensive ability off the bench that allowed the Wildcats to switch from a zone defense to a man-to-man. The change cut off the Trojans' open three-point shots that they were knocking down with consistency in the first half. USC hit five in the first half, compared to making just 1-of-9 in the second.

If UCLA is able to attack Arizona from the outside as USC did in the first half, it could spell trouble for the Wildcats.

But if Olson learned anything last night, he now knows what type of weapons he has with both Iguodala and Adams, defensively and offensively, respectively.


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