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Hoops trounces team from Australia

SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Hassan Adams is called for a foul while attemping to block a dunk during the Wildcats' 33 point win over the Sydney Comets during the Comets' second game on their U.S. tour.
By Christopher Wuensch
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 13, 2003

On a night when the McKale Center crowd welcomed back a Final Four hero from Arizona basketball's only National Championship, in 1997, it was the team of the future that ended up stealing the show.

The UA men's basketball team hit Lute and Bobbi Court last night when the Wildcats squared off in their first exhibition game of the team's 100th year and provided the home crowd with a 109-66 thumping of the Sydney Comets.

From the onset, the Wildcats flashed their quickness and never looked back en route to the rout.

"I thought we played rather well," head coach Lute Olson said. "I thought we did a good job with the running game and getting good looks."

Former Wildcat and current Comet Donnell Harris received a hearty welcome from fans during the pre-game introductions. Harris will forever be remembered in Arizona basketball folklore for his eight-point, seven-rebound performance during the 1997 championship game against Kentucky.

"It's great to not have the pressure of being on the team, but I get to enjoy the fans and the atmosphere," Harris said of his return to McKale Center.

His nine points in his return home, however, were overshadowed by the explosive offense of the Wildcats.

The sophomore duo of Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala ignited a 10-2 run to start the game. Adams tied the game at two when the sophomore took an Iguodala lob in mid-air and slammed it down for the first of his dozen first half points.

The Los Angeles native was the star early for the Wildcats, connecting on each of his first four shots. Adams' off-season workouts to improve his perimeter shooting paid dividends, earning the guard eight points off mid-ranger jump shots.

The Adams of last season emerged after the break, however, as the 6-foot-4 guard added 10 more points for a team-high 22, using his patented high-flying dunks.

Last night's starting lineup should stay the same for the Wildcats' next exhibition game against Team Nike. Junior center Isaiah Fox was benched for two games by Olson after being arrested last week for stealing from a campus store.

As expected, center Channing Frye anchored the Wildcats in the low post position and was backed by Iguodala. Joining Adams in the Arizona backcourt were the sharp-shooting Salim Stoudamire and the highly touted newcomer Mustafa Shakur.

Shakur's Wildcat debut was impressive at times and erratic at others, but the freshman's talent was not overlooked. The Philadelphia native was the last starter to be replaced in the lineup when he was subbed at 8:32 of the first half. At that point, Shakur had seven of his 10 points on the evening to complement his team-leading eight assists.

Arizona jumped out to a commanding lead early on, taking a 17-4 lead on a Iguodala 3-pointer 6:57 into the first half.

Iguodala showed tremendous poise on the court, seemingly embracing the role as the UA's on-court leader. The Springfield, Ill. native shot 3-5 from the 3-point arc en route to 19 points on the evening, playing up to the crowd in the process. After hitting a 3-pointer and being knocked to the floor, the sophomore coolly picked himself up and mockingly fanned himself off.

The sophomore also pulled down 15 boards, nearly doubling the next Wildcat, Kirk Walters, who hauled in eight.

Arizona took a commanding 62-25 lead into halftime, thanks in part to two separate 11-0 runs.

The second half began much the same way as the first one ended. The highlight of the half was provided in part from the 6-foot-11 Frye.

After losing his dribble, Shakur recovered nicely to set up Frye's 10th point of the night - a monster two-handed dunk. After adding a layup, Frye missed a foul shot that Iguodala snared in mid-air, sending home a basket-rattling dunk to give Arizona a 78-35 lead with 14:28 remaining.

Frye poured in 14 points and added seven rebounds in 22 minutes.

Backing up Frye was newcomer Kirk Walters. The freshman from Grand Rapids, Mich. blocked only one Comet shot in his debut but flashed his potential, scoring 11 points.

"I think he'll be an outstanding shot blocker with his length," Olson said of Walters.

Arizona had seven players in double figures on the evening, and Olson answered some off-season questions of team depth by spreading around the minutes rather evenly. All but one player - Fil Torres with four minutes - reached double figures in minutes on the court. Iguodala led Arizona with 28 minutes.

Despite winning by 43, Arizona looked erratic at times, throwing away passes and missing key rebounds. The Comets closed out the game by going on a 12-2 run to close the final margin of victory.

Olson sees his team's speed as being an asset on the defensive side of the ball as well as offense.

"We can be a good defensive team because we have outstanding athleticism and great quickness," the hall-of-fame coach said.

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