Wildcats sneak past Stanford

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona and Stanford men's basketball teams present "A Pair (of games) to Remember," brought to you by the Pacific 10 Conference.

Act One: "The Encore": Arizona guard Damon Stoudamire scores 10 points in the first nine minutes en route to a game-high 29. Stanford thinks about quadruple-teaming him.

Act Two: "The Impostor": Stanford's David Harbour scores 11 first-half points in less than five minutes, finishing with 20. Who does he think he is, Stoudamire?

Act Three: "The Seniors": Senior Ray Owes scores 20 points and grabs 12 rebounds, eight in the second half alone. He and Stoudamire combine for 49 of UA's 84 points. The Cardinal protest, saying they need six guys on defense.

No. 9 Arizona, embroiled in a tight struggle for most of the game, eventually downed Stanford 84-73 last night at McKale Center in front the usual sellout crowd of 14,257. Unusually, however, the crowd was in it the entire game in fact, they were in it before the game, too.

"Our players came in from warmups, and they were saying, 'Can you believe the crowd?'" said UA head coach Lute Olson. "The crowd was great. This is the best the crowd has been all year."

Toting cards with a "3" printed on them to be waved every time the home team sank a three-pointer, the fans used them early and often. Owes started things off with one a little over two minutes into the game. Then Stoudamire hit two in a span of 36 seconds. Those were used to help build a 15-point Wildcat lead with 11:51 gone in the first half.

Then came the crucial threes. With 2:08 left in the first half, Corey Williams hit one from behind the arc to tie the game at 35. In the second half, Stoudamire drained a long bomb he ended with four to give Arizona a one-point lead. After the Cardinal tied the game three times, Owes knocked one down to give the Wildcats a three-point lead. Then, with the UA down by two, Joe McLean hit one from three-point land to give Arizona a lead it would not relinquish.

The win improved UA's record to 18-4 overall (8-2 in the Pac-10), but because UCLA beat Washington 74-66 last night, the Wildcats remain in a tie for first in the conference. Stanford fell to 15-4 (6-4 in the Pac-10).

"The crowd was real involved," Stoudamire said. "They helped us out a lot. It was great to see them get back their enthusiasm."

"If we're going to have the home-court advantage, we need to have the home-crowd advantage, too," Olson said. "There's nothing that keeps the players going like good crowd support."

After Arizona built its biggest lead at 24-9, Stanford decided it had spotted the Wildcats enough points and went on a run of its own, outscoring its opponents 17-2 over a span of less than five minutes. The half ended with Stanford leading 43-41.

"When they got back in it, we were kind of struggling on offense," Stoudamire said. "Ray stepped up his game, he played real well. We hit all the crucial buckets down the stretch."

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