By Monty Phan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
He's done just about everything.
He helped lead his team to last year's Final Four. He scored 45 points in one game. He leads the Pacific 10 Conference in scoring and assists.
So when UA basketball star Damon Stoudamire recorded his first career triple-double Saturday against Oregon, two words summed up the entire feat: why not?
"My teammates were trying to update me (on the triple-double)," Stoudamire said. "I knew I had it in points and rebounds. I didn't know how many assists I had but I figured that I was close, that I'd probably reach it some time in the game."
In fact, because the 13th-ranked Arizona men's basketball team led the entire game, the outcome wasn't really a mystery.
No, the suspense was whether or not Stoudamire would complete the feat, and that was decided with about 13 minutes left, when he grabbed his 10th rebound. He finished with 32 points Ä including five of 10 from three-point land and 11 of 11 from the free-throw line Ä 14 assists and 11 rebounds.
And, oh yeah Ä Arizona won the game 97-76 in front of yet another sold-out McKale Center crowd of 14,257.
But back to Stoudamire. In a game which featured 49 personal fouls Ä 35 in the second half Ä Stoudamire had only two. And in a game which featured 36 turnovers Ä 20 by the Wildcats Ä Stoudamire had only five. And this was in 38 minutes of court time, also a game high. Flawless? You be the judge.
"I wasn't trying to go out there and do that," he said. "It doesn't surprise me. We needed a big performance anyway."
"He's had so many good (games) it's hard to pick out one," UA coach Lute Olson said. "But certainly when you look at his line with his assists, it wasn't just barely a triple-double, it was a triple-double with 13 (minutes) left in the game. That's hard to believe."
If the way things started out for Arizona (21-6 overall, 11-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) was any indication, it looked to be a big night for both seniors.
Stoudamire and forward Ray Owes combined for the Wildcats' first 14 points and 21 of their first 26, helping UA build a 13-point lead with over six minutes left in the first half. In fact, through the first 13 minutes of the game, Arizona held Oregon (16-7, 8-6) to 19 percent from the floor on 4 of 21 shooting. The Ducks would finish the half with a .294 shooting percentage and a nine-point deficit, as Arizona led at the half, 34-25.
"I thought our big guys got going right off the bat," Stoudamire said. "I thought we played good defense. We made them take a lot of bad shots."
The second half was one glorified free-throw contest. The teams combined for 66 attempts, making 45. As part of Stoudamire's share-the-wealth plan, five Wildcats scored in double figures, contributing to the 25-point lead Arizona enjoyed twice in the second half.
The triple-double was the first in the Pac-10 since last season, when California's Jason Kidd did it four times. UA's Chris Mills and Matt Muehlebach each accomplished the feat, as well as Oregon State's Gary Payton and Cal's Kevin Johnson.
"Those two (Mills and Muehlebach) are great players," Stoudamire said. "That's pretty good company."
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