Arizona travels to Wazzu on season's last road trip

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The concept is simple, really.

"Don't lose your last game." "Win on Monday."

What does it translate to? One word: win. Or else.

That's what the Arizona men's basketball team must do tonight in Pullman, Wash., as the 12th-ranked Wildcats get set to take on Washington State in UA's final road trip of the regular season.

Scheduled tip-off is at 10 p.m. Tucson time. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Arizona (21-6 overall, 11-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) will be without the services of junior Corey Williams, who fractured the medial orbital bone of his left eye after being elbowed by teammate Joseph Blair during practice Monday.

Williams lost his starting job to freshman Miles Simon last week, but was expected to help out against the Cougars' Isaac Fontaine, WSU's scoring leader and eighth-highest scorer in the conference. Instead, junior guard Reggie Geary will probably get the assignment.

"If I'm at the three (position then) I'm probably going to be on him," Geary said. "He's a good ball player for them. If I get the challenge then hopefully I can get in and do a good job."

The Wildcats have won 17 consecutive games over Washington State (14-9, 8-6), dating back to the 1985-86 season, and have won 20

of the last 21 games between the schools. Nevertheless, the team said Friel Court is by no means an easy place to play.

"I'm not sure if it's a big basketball environment or it's just that they're really supportive up there, but (the fans) definitely talk about you," said junior center Joseph Blair. "It's not as good as Stanford. Stanford has more intellectual put-downs, but Washington State (fans are) pretty good with theirs.

"They do more research it seems. They definitely get on you as soon as you walk on the court."

Geary, who thrives off opposing fans' negativity, has developed quite a liking for playing in Pullman.

"I love the atmosphere," Geary said. "Washington State is one of the favorite trips of the team next to Oregon and Cal."

Though Arizona defeated Wazzu earlier this season at McKale Center, they won by only eight points, and the Cougars were without starting point guard Donminic Ellison. The sophomore is tied for second in the Pac-10 in assists per game Ellison averages 7.0 per game to Stoudamire's 7.8.

"It gives them another good handler," Arizona head coach Lute Olson said. "The game doesn't change a lot, it's just that he's obviously better than his backup. When you have to start the backup then you don't have the help off the bench that you normally do.

"They'll be better with him, I would expect, but they played pretty well here without him."

On the home front, Olson said the weekend's 14- and 21-point wins over the Oregon schools provided valuable insight to his team with three games left in the regular season.

"We're getting good defensive play out of all five spots," Olson said. "We're getting good numbers out of our inside guys and Damon's doing a great job on the boards. We just need to get our wings to give us a consistent number on the boards."

Note: The five finalists for the 1995 Ban/Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards were announced yesterday. Stoudamire, the Pac-10's current scoring and assist leader, was named as a finalist.

Top-ranked UCLA's leading scorer, senior forward Ed O'Bannon, was not.

The other finalists included Michigan State's Shawn Respert, Arkansas' Corliss Williamson, North Carolina's Rasheed Wallace and Maryland's Joe Smith.

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