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Men's Hoops: Analysis

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 28, 2005
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Free throws, zone defense keys to big win

After being outshot by 23 and out-rebounded by nine, the UA men's basketball team used a 95 percent free-throw shooting clip on 40 attempts and a new 1-3-1 zone defense to beat No. 10 Washington 91-82 last night in McKale Center.

The No. 11 Wildcats held the Huskies to 38.6 percent from the field and only 12 fast break points in taking over sole possession of first place in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"It definitely feels good," said senior center Channing Frye about beating the Huskies for the first time in the last four meetings. "It was always on our minds. This was a big win for us."

Arizona hadn't tried the 1-3-1 zone defense all year, but after alternating from zone to man in the first four minutes, head coach Lute Olson finally decided to stick with the 1-3-1 zone defense permanently to hamper the quick Washington guards.

"The first four minutes we changed up on zone and man," Olson said. "But we got to the four-minute time out and all of a sudden you can just see the difference, and I think they were one for six against the zone."

While the sudden defensive adjustment was inconsistent with Arizona's style of play, the Wildcats free-throw shooting was once again as consistent as ever.

Arizona shot 38-of-40, 95 percent, from the foul line while the Huskies only got to the line a total of 21 times.

"Free throws give us a great opportunity to get free buckets and free opportunities to score points," said Frye, who was 8-of-8 from the charity stripe on his way to 18 points.

Not only were the Wildcats scorching from 15 feet, but their aggressiveness got key Washington players in foul trouble.

"That's an excellent job under so much pressure," said sophomore guard Mustafa Shakur.

Shakur was one of only two Wildcats, along with junior forward Hassan Adams, to miss a free throw, but the Wildcat point guard still went 8-of-9, scoring 19 points.

"Coach joked and said he's going to make me and Hassan run (wind sprints) because we missed," Shakur said.

Senior guard Salim Stoudamire continued his hot scoring streak going 9-of-9 from the line, but the most important foul he drew came with 44.1 seconds remaining when he drew Nate Robinson's fifth on a leaning bank shot that went in from the left side of the floor.

"I wanted to create the contact because I knew if I settled for a jump shot, I wasn't going to get the call," Stoudamire said.

Robinson, who was averaging 16.7 points per game, was held to just 10 on 4-of-12

shooting, and the Husky trio of Robinson, Tre Simmons and Brandon Roy shot a combined 12-of-34.

"It's hard because which one are you going to take," Jawann McClellan said of the threesome. "They're very versatile and they're a very good team, but we came out and we didn't focus on just one person."

The zone helped slow down the tempo, but Olson said it should hurt the Wildcats' ability to run up and down the floor.

"We felt it was important for us to get them to play half-court basketball on offense. And so we just went straight zone," Olson said. "We did that because we didn't want them to get in to the normal rhythm. We wanted to control the tempo at their end, and we made them pass the ball an awful lot before they got shots."

Washington couldn't adjust to the defense firing up one perimeter shot after another, attempting 34 3-pointers and making 13. All the perimeter attempts took a toll because they were unable to get easy access to the basket.

"It was very effective for us," Shakur said of the zone. "They love to get up and down and run, and it really caused a lot of problems."

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