By From staff and wire reports
PHOTO COURTESY THE CAVALIER DAILY (U. Virginia)
UA junior guard Chris Rodgers guards a Virginia player during the Wildcats' 78-60 loss to the Cavaliers yesterday in Charlottesville, Va.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 22, 2004
Cats lose for first time in first road trip of year
The Arizona men's basketball team was on the receiving end of many lessons during the No. 10 Wildcats' 78-60 loss to Virginia yesterday in Charlottesville, Va.
The first: The Atlantic Coast Conference - home to three of the Associated Press poll's top four teams and six of the nation's top 20 - could be college basketball's best conference after all, especially since the unranked Cavaliers were picked to finish eighth come the end of conference play.
The second: A pair of sluggish wins over San Diego and Wright State in the National Invitational Tournament's preliminary rounds coupled with last night's loss probably means its back to the drawing board for UA head coach Lute Olson and his staff heading into NIT semifinal action Wednesday in New York.
"We made some bad decisions tonight," Olson said. "We wish we could have come in and played more like we are capable of playing."
After utilizing a 23-9 run to take a 34-22 lead into halftime, Virginia (2-0) rattled off the first six points after the break to take a 40-22 early in the second half. Arizona (2-1) would pull to within nine points twice in the final frame, but the Cavaliers never relented.
"We had a lot of energy, and they didn't," said Virginia freshman Sean Singletary, who finished the game with 15 points and eight assists.
"(Singletary) was excited, playing against Arizona and playing against Mustafa (Shakur)," Virginia head coach Pete Gillen said.
The Wildcats shot just 39.7 percent for the game, hitting five of 24 3-point attempts overall after converting just once from beyond the arc in the first half. Arizona turned the ball over 21 times as well, compared to 20 for the Cavaliers.
"You have nightmare games like this, and we've got one nightmare out of the way, I guess," Olson said.
"Virginia outplayed us in every area you want to talk about," he added. "It seemed like any time that we went into the middle, they came out with the ball. They did a really nice job."
UA senior center Channing Frye led Arizona with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while junior forward Hassan Adams had 14. Senior shooting guard Salim Stoudamire scored 13 points after hitting just three of 10 long-range attempts.
"It doesn't take a lot of looking to see what happened here tonight. Virginia outplayed us in every aspect of the game. They had 46 points in the paint, 27 points off our turnovers and 13 second-chance points. The Virginia guards were solid tonight," Olson added. "We had 11 turnovers off our two starting guards and anytime you do that, it's going to kill you."
Virginia's starting frontcourt of Devin Smith, Jason Clark and Elton Brown combined for 38 points and 19 rebounds, with Brown collecting 15 points and seven boards of his own. Reserve guard/forward Gary Forbes also chipped in 13 points for the Cavaliers on 5-of-6 shooting in just 16 minutes of action.
"I like Pete Gillen's team. He has good size in the front and good experience. Great quickness out of either of those point guards; they have quick hands. Any time we penetrated, they came out with the ball," Olson said.
With an NIT semifinal matchup against Michigan scheduled for Wednesday and a championship tilt against either Providence or No. 2 Wake Forest up for grabs, Olson's team will need to regroup quickly, as the Wildcats headed straight for New York after the game to prepare for Wednesday night.
"As for us, we need to get back to the drawing board and get people to take care of the ball," Olson said.
-The Associated Press contributed to this report.