By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, December 5, 2005
Men's basketball off to worst start since '83-84
It was the Oliver Lafayette Show on Saturday night at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, as Houston upset the No. 15 Arizona men's basketball team 69-65, marking the Cougars' second consecutive win over a nationally ranked opponent.
Lafayette's barrage from behind the arc (7-of-11) led Houston's hectic up-tempo pace, which the Cougars (3-1) used to force 21 Wildcat turnovers.
The Cougars defeated No. 25 LSU 84-83 in Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday behind Lafayette's 32 points.
"He beat us," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner. "We stressed it all week long that you cannot give him looks. You give him an inch, he's firing away and it's going to go in. He played extremely well. He's a very, very good player."
Lafayette scored 28 and backcourt mate Lanny Smith added 11 assists for Houston as fans rushed the floor after the final buzzer.
"It's an extremely disappointing loss for us," Pastner said. "It's not a good loss. You say that you can take stuff from (the loss). I don't want to take anything from it. I'm tired of losing."
Arizona head coach Lute Olson sat his two leading scorers, seniors Chris Rodgers and Hassan Adams, until the midpoint of the first half for being late to a pregame meal, and the Wildcat offense suffered, as Arizona (2-3) fell behind 20-4 to start the game.
Arizona (2-3): 1st: 27, 2nd: 38, Final: 65
Houston (3-1): 1st: 29, 2nd: 40, Final: 69
Arizona: Hassan Adams, senior guard: 21 points
Houston: Oliver Lafayette, junior guard: 31 points
Arizona: Ivan Radenovic, junior forward: 11 rebounds (four offensive)
Houston: Three players tied with five
Arizona: J.P. Prince, freshman guard: six assists
Houston: Lanny Smith, junior guard: 11 assists
Rodgers scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field in 18 minutes, while Adams had a strong second half en route to a team-high 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
"They accepted responsibility and apologized to the team," Pastner said. "We're a family here, and we win as a team and we lose as a team."
"Did that hurt (us), of course," said Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough. "It seemed to hurt Chris when he got in the game more than it did Hassan. Hassan is a tough kid and reacted well. ... Chris just didn't recover from the fact that he didn't start."
The Wildcats continued their poor shooting, making just one of their first 17 shots and shooting 34.4 percent for the game. Arizona is shooting 38.9 percent from the field this season.
"We have to make shots," Pastner said. "When we're open we have to put shots in the basket. There's no other way to look at it."
After trailing by 13 with 4:21 left to play, Arizona made a run started on a layup by sophomore guard Daniel Dillon. Adams' 3-pointer two possessions later cut the lead to eight at 59-51.
Smith hit one of two free throws after being fouled on the next possession, and junior forward Ivan Radenovic, who finished with 12 points, made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six.
Lafayette scored four of the next six points, and the Cougars pushed the lead back to 12.
Arizona answered once more with an 11-2 run, keyed by four Mustafa Shakur free throws and another Radenovic 3-pointer, but Arizona got no closer than three points.
"We are a capable scoring team and we are a team that can play good defense," Rosborough said. "We did that in those two stretches, but the story was that we got off to such a bad start."
Arizona closed the halftime gap to two, 29-27, with an 18-3 spurt, but Houston came back in the second half with the same energy it had to start the game, quickly jumping on Arizona with a Jahmar Thorpe dunk and a Lafayette 3-pointer.
The Cougars outscored Arizona 22-11 in the first 9:38 of the second half.
"If we want to win and be the best team we can be, we have to play with a sense of urgency for 40 minutes, not for three minutes here and three minutes there," Pastner said.
Lafayette was nearly unstoppable at times, hitting five 3-pointers in the second half. He also made a key hustle play when he grabbed his own rebound off a free-throw miss and drew another foul with five seconds remaining.
The Wildcats' 2-3 start is their worst since the 1983-84 season, Olson's first in Tucson. Arizona went 11-17 that year.
Next up for Arizona is a home date with NAU on Thursday in McKale Center.
- Information taken from www.arizonaathletics.com.