Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 18 2005
When Arizona's most dangerous offensive weapons couldn't score, it was the team's defense that kept the Wildcats in the game until the shots finally started to fall, resulting in a 66-53 first-round UA win over Utah State in the NCAA tournament.
Senior guard Salim Stoudamire and senior center Channing Frye, Wildcats' top two scorers heading into NCAA tournament play, scored a total of nine points in the first half against Utah State.
At halftime, most of the talk in the Wildcat locker room was about putting more defensive pressure on USU, one of the top scoring offenses in the country percentage-wise.
The Wildcats went into halftime down 29-26, allowing the Aggies to shoot 48 percent from the floor.
"I personally felt like I needed to pick it up," said Frye about his mindset going into the second half.
Frye did pick it up in the second half, getting 4 of his 5 blocked shots after halftime.
If tipped passes or shots were kept track of, Frye would have likely led in those categories too. His tips and blocks were huge in holding the Aggies to 26.7 percent shooting in the second half.
"I was trying to be a force in the middle and block everything. I knew I wasn't going to get everything but I felt like I wanted to change everybody's shots," Frye said.
Offensively, Frye scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, including an emphatic dunk to bring the score 58-43, the largest lead of the game for the Wildcats to that point.
"In the second half they shot 25 percent and a lot of that had to do with the pressure on the ball and it certainly helps having Channing in the middle challenging anything they have to get in the lane," Arizona head coach Lute Olson said.
On the glass, the Wildcats were out-rebounded 17-13 in the first half. In the second half, the Wildcats out-rebounded the Aggies 20-15, with all but five of those being on the defensive glass. Frye grabbed seven of his 10 boards in the second half.
"They were a whole different team in the second half," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "It was obvious they discussed it at halftime. They denied everything, pressured and they were physical."
The Wildcats kept the Aggies' best shooter, Spencer Nelson, to just 6 points, scoring 4 of his points on free throws. Along with being in foul trouble most of the game, Nelson was also battling illness. Sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic and junior forward Hassan Adams split duties guarding Nelson, and Olson was pleased with their job defensively on the senior forward.
Offensively, Radenovic had a rough day, scoring no points and getting three rebounds. Adams scored 10 points and added five rebounds for the game, pulling down three defensive rebounds in the second half.