By Amanda Branam
CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona's Salim Stoudamire focuses in on Washington's Will Conroy during the second half of Arizona's game against Washington Saturday in Bank of America Arena in Seattle. The Cats will take on in-state rival ASU tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Tempe.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 4, 2005
Devils, Cats battle to finish regular season
The No. 11 Arizona men's basketball team has one more chance to put itself in line for the Pacific 10 Conference title and solidify its postseason status.
The Wildcats (24-5, 14-3 Pac-10) travel to Tempe to take on ASU (18-11, 7-10) at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
With a win, Arizona forces Washington to sweep California and Stanford tomorrow to get a share of the regular season Pac-10 title.
"I don't think (head) coach (Lute Olson) will tell us (if Washington loses). If it does happen, like, they lose. I think it will give us that extra little initiative," said senior center Channing Frye, who hails from Phoenix. "But at the same time, I don't think we need anymore reasons to go out there and play the best we can."
ASU held the lead for part of the first half when they came to Tucson Jan. 2.
The Wildcats took the lead for good with just under three minutes remaining in the half and went into halftime with a 46-41 lead.
Arizona went on to outscore the Sun Devils 51-38 in the second half in a 97-79 pounding.
ASU junior center Ike Diogu leads the conference in points per game and rebounds per game and poses the biggest threat inside for the Wildcats.
The matchup between Frye and Diogu is usually the most important when these two teams face each other.
In the five games the two players have faced each other, Frye has averaged 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while Diogu has averaged 18 and 10, respectively.
Sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic will likely have to help out in defending Diogu, which Radenovic said is a key to winning the game.
"Ike is their best player. He's going to be a great competitor in that game," he said. "It's going to be our job to stop him.
"When I say 'stop,' I mean box him out every time, get the defensive rebound and stop him from scoring inside," he said.
The Sun Devils were 11-2 overall after falling to the Wildcats on Jan. 2, and have lost 9-of-16 since.
They sit in sixth place in the conference standings.
"They've played really well, I think, in a lot of games. They've just lost close ones they weren't able to close out," Olson said. "They played us well down here, and there's no reason to expect they won't play better at home."
The Wildcats have not lost to ASU since an 88-72 loss in Tempe on Jan. 23, 2002, a span of six games.