Arizona holds on in first round of Maui Invitational

By Staff and wire reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Unranked Kansas gave the No. 9 Arizona basketball team all it could handle last night in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii, before the Wildcats crept out with a 61-49 win to advance to the semifinals.

Arizona will play the winner of the Connecticut-Arkansas game in tomorrow's second round at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Kansas tied the score at 41 with 11:46 left to play on freshman guard Mario Chalmers' jump shot, but Arizona used a 20-8 run the rest of the game to come out with the win.

"It was a great battle, a great fight, and it was a good win. Kansas was a great team," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner.

Despite shooting just 29.8 percent from the field, Arizona was able to force 27 turnovers against a young Kansas team featuring four first-year players. The Jayhawks did not score a point over the final 3:09.

"We were just trying to find good shots every time down the court," said Arizona assistant coach Miles Simon. "Both teams seemed to be forcing a little bit, but in the end our defense just pulled us through."

Junior point guard Mustafa Shakur scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half, while junior center Kirk Walters added 13 and seven rebounds off the bench.

"Kirk did a great job. He played hard," Pastner said. "This game he was our MVP, there's no doubt about it, he really stepped up. He gave us a great spark."

Senior guard Chris Rodgers had 12 points for the Wildcats on 3-of-10 shooting from the field and also had three steals.

"Chris hit big shots that we needed and got a couple of steals in the open court that we were able to convert into free throws or layups, and that helped the offense (get) going a little bit," Simon said.

After starting the game on a 20-4 run, the Wildcats let Kansas cut its halftime deficit to six, 35-29.

"We jumped out early, but we didn't do a good job of putting the nail in the coffin," Pastner said. "Kansas is a great team and they're going to come back no matter what. Basketball is a game of runs, and they're a good team."

Sophomore Sasha Kaun had 12 points for Kansas before foiling out with 4:48 left to play.

Freshman Brandon Rush scored 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting and had seven rebounds.

The game was physical, as the referees let both teams play. Walters and junior forward Ivan Radenovic were both forced to leave the game because of blood on their faces after scuffles.

Radenovic, who scored only four points and missed eight of nine field-goal attempts, came back with a bandage over his right eye.

Senior guard Hassan Adams shot 3-of-16 from the field, finishing with 10 points.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.