Jan. 15, 2000
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Down to seven scholarship players, nothing seems to come easy for second-ranked Arizona in the Pac-10, even at home.
Loren Woods shook off a miserable shooting performance in the first half to score 22 points, grab 11 rebounds and block five shots Saturday night as the Wildcats survived another homecourt scare 69-62 over Washington.
Michael Wright had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats (15-2, 4-0 Pac-10).
The obvious tactic teams are going to use against Arizona is to slow the game down, and it almost worked for Washington State on Thursday and Washington on Saturday.
Coach Lute Olson said it's a good lesson in conference intensity for his young team.
"Every game that we play, as young as we are, we're going to gain with that experience," Olson said. "They've been told by their teammates who've been around, plus the coaching staff that when you go into league play, it's a war everytime you step out there.
"It's not just the Pac-10. It's the Big Ten or the ACC or anywhere else. You'd better be ready to play because everyone's going to bring their `A' game at you. I think they understand now what we're talking about."
Olson benched Arizona's starting freshmen guards Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas for the first 8 1/2 minutes for being late to Thursday's practice. Gardner scored 15 and Arenas 10 off the bench.
"I thought they responded well," Olson said. "It wasn't a case of pouting and feeling sorry for themselves. They knew they were the responsible parties."
The Huskies' Deon Luton, 0-for-10 from the field in the first half, scored all 10 of his points in the second but made just three of 19 shots.
Washington coach Bob Bender said the closeness of the game shows just how tough the Pac-10 is.
"Arizona's ranking is well deserved and well earned. I think a game like this one is not a knock on Arizona, but a credit to the Pac-10," Bender said. "A good example is what we saw UCLA do at North Carolina. The Pac-10 is just so strong, top to bottom."
Carey's 3-pointer tied it at 45 with 8:30 to play, then the 7-foot-1 Woods ignited a 7-0 spurt with a three-point play, capping it with two free throws to put the Wildcats up for good 52-45 with 7:04 to play.
Greg Clark's stuff cut Arizona's lead to 60-56 with 2:23 to play. Washington had two chances to get closer, but Luton missed a 3-pointer, then the Huskies turned it over.
Arizona was 7-for-8 at the foul line, including four of four by Gardner, in the final 45 seconds.
"They play us well every time they are down here," Woods said of the Huskies. "Last year, we won one on a last-second basket. That team is tough to get a big lead on. You get up a couple, and they hit a big 3 to get closer."
The Wildcats, who trailed Washington State 35-34 at halftime before coming back to win 80-75, needed a late 8-2 surge to tie it at 25 at the break against the Huskies.
Gardner hit a 3-pointer during the run, then capped it with two free throws with a half-second left in the half.
"With our performance today, we've seen what we can do with one of the top teams in the country," Walcott said. "We just have to carry it over for the rest of the season so we can win some ballgames. I think everybody can be pleased with the team's effort tonight."
Washington outscored Arizona 14-2 in a 4:39 span to take a 23-17 lead on Michael Johnson's two free throws with 4:22 left in the half. Johnson scored seven during the surge, including a 3-pointer, but was scoreless in the second half.
Neither team shot well in the first half. The Wildcats were 7-for-26 (27 percent), and the Huskies were 10-for-38 (26 percent).
Woods was 3-for-10 in the first half but 5-for-9 in the second. After going 1-for-6 in the first half, Wright was 5-for-5 in the second.
Olson, down to seven scholarship players after Richard Jefferson broke his right foot in the win at Stanford last week, started walk-on John Ash at point guard, with Justin Wessel, normally a forward, at the other guard.
Gardner and Arenas entered the game with 11:14 to play in the first half.