The Associated Press
CORVALLIS, Ore. Ä After being overpowered 111-98 by No. 12 Arizona men's basketball team Saturday night, Oregon State senior forward Mustapha Hoff decided which team will be the next Pacific 10 Conference champion.
Without a doubt, Hoff said, it's the Wildcats, who are just a half a game behind Pac-10 leader UCLA entering the final week of the conference's first half.
''I think they are a lot tougher than UCLA,'' Hoff said. ''Their attitude toward the game is more physical. Every time we turned our heads they were on the boards.''
Arizona (15-4 overall, 5-2 in the Pac-10) out-rebounded Oregon State 44-28, including 20 from the offensive end. The Wildcats set a record for the most points ever against Oregon State.
''Arizona can beat you in so many ways, and that's what they did tonight,'' Oregon State coach Jimmy Anderson said. ''They've got Stoudamire's athletic skill, good post play and they hit the backboards. Those three things right there devastated us.''
Arizona point guard Damon Stoudamire scored 26 points and had nine assists before fouling out with 5:17 left, and forward Ray Owes added 21 points. Center Joseph Blair scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Arizona led 54-48 at halftime even though OSU missed just three shots.
The Beavers (5-11, 2-5) were 16-of-19 in the first half, but they gave up 13 offensive boards which led to nine second-chance points for the Wildcats.
''What was amazing is they were shooting something like 80 percent from the field and we were still up six,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ''That shows you how well we were playing.
''We really kept them off the glass. We did a lot of things really well. It's coming, but it's still not there,'' Olson said. ''The good thing is I think our guys realize we're still not there, that we've got to get better everyday.''
The Wildcats' solid effort almost wasn't enough.
Arizona went on an 18-2 run to start the second half, and eventually led by as many as 26 points. However, Oregon State cut the lead to 100-89 with three minutes left after forward Brent Barry hit a three pointer.
''We played great until we got the big lead,'' Olson said.
Part of the problem was that Stoudamire wasn't on the floor. The senior guard was assessed a technical foul with 6:57 left, and another personal foul with 5:17 that disqualified him from the game with Arizona leading 98-79. Olson nearly drew a technical himself while disputing Stoudamire's technical, stomping out near mid-court to protest the call.
''The people on TV saw exactly what we saw from the bench,'' Olson said.
''Damon gets called for a block, and (Stephane) Brown throws the ball at him on the floor. So Damon throws the ball back. Who should get the technical?
''We've got three officials with six eyes out there. They can't be that blind. One of the officials told me to look at the score Ä hey, they shouldn't know what the score is. That's not their job. So now if we've got a big lead, they feel they don't have to call anything? It's ridiculous, and I don't care what the Pac-10 says about my comments on this. It's so ridiculous.''
Blair, on the other hand, wasn't ridiculous. The 6-foot-10 junior hit 9-of-11 shots and also added three blocked shots.
''Blair wore out everyone we put on him,'' Anderson said.
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