Feb 26, 2004
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - There's a new No. 2 in the Pac-10.
Tre Simmons had a career-high 22 points to lead surging Washington as it held off No. 17 Arizona 89-84 on Thursday night to move ahead of the Wildcats into second place in the conference.
The Wildcats were playing without leading scorer Salim Stoudamire, suspended by coach Lute Olson "for failure to meet team responsibilities."
After opening the conference schedule with five straight losses, the Huskies (14-10, 9-6) have won nine of 11 - including a sweep of Arizona.
"This is the biggest win of the year," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Beating Arizona on the road, and in a game that put us in second place alone, it is a pretty big game."
Washington opened a 10-point lead early in the second half and held off a late rally by the Wildcats (17-8, 9-7), who were down to six players from their regular rotation. The depth problem worsened when point guard Mustafa Shakur was benched with foul trouble.
Nate Robinson, who scored a career-high 31 points in the Huskies' victory over the Wildcats in Seattle on Jan. 29, had 18 points. Hakeem Rollins scored 14, all in the second half, and Brandon Roy added 12 and Bobby Jones 10.
"We are on a mission right now," Roy said. "The mission is to go to the NCAA tournament. I feel if we finish second, we should get an automatic bid."
"This is the biggest win of the year, Beating Arizona on the road, and in a game that put us in second place alone, it is a pretty big game."
- Coach Lorenzo Romar
Channing Frye had 25 points and nine rebounds for Arizona, but put up an errant 18-footer late in the game, then attempted a 10-footer and missed with the team trailing 87-84 in the final seconds.
Olson said he had emphasized in a timeout that the team needed a 3, and it was a situation the team goes over in almost every practice. After Frye's miss, the Wildcats failed to foul quickly, despite instructions from Olson to the contrary. Rollins ended Washington's victory with a late stuff.
"We played like we had no clue what was needed," Olson said.
Hassan Adams scored 23 points, Andre Iguodala added 11 and Chris Rodgers had 10 for Arizona, which has lost two in a row.
"I apologize for it. The coaches apologize for it," Olson said of his team's effort. "The thing that's getting old is the lack of our ability to inspire guys to play like their life depended on it. That's been a tradition of Arizona basketball - guys play hard. You get beat sometimes, but it's not because we didn't play hard. This team has gotten beat because it doesn't play hard."
Asked if this group of players simply can't be inspired, Olson said, "I don't know. I mean, as a staff we've been able to motivate people before. I don't think we've changed anything. Maybe one of the biggest problems is that we don't have the bench where we can motivate them by sitting their butt on the bench."
The Huskies won at McKale Center for only the second time in 20 tries. They won at Arizona in 1996.
"For the program it is huge," Rollins said. "I don't think Washington has been in this position in a while."
Simmons scored six points in an 8-2 spurt that put Washington ahead 72-62 with 8:41 remaining. The Huskies led 78-69 on an inside basket by Simmons with 5:57 to go.
Arizona responded with an 8-0 run. Frye, who left the game briefly after being slammed in the mouth, came back and tipped in a miss, then Shakur made a layup to cut it to 78-77 with 4:52 left.
Simmons' 3-pointer with 2:08 to go put Washington ahead 85-81, but Frye's three-point play cut it to 85-84 with 1:54 remaining. But Arizona, looking confused, couldn't score again. Roy made two free throws to make it 87-84 with 1:02 to go, then Rollins capped it with a stuff just before the buzzer.
Stoudamire, the Wildcats' best defender, was on the bench in street clothes cheering on his teammates during the game.
"It was immature actions on my part that were detrimental to the team," he said of his suspension. "I am not going to get into specifics."
He vowed not to let it happen again, and said he expected to play Saturday against Washington State. However, Olson said he doubted that Stoudamire would be reinstated for that game.
The Huskies scored 12 straight points, the first eight inside, to go up 55-45 on Robinson's two free throws with 15:05 left. Arizona cut it to 64-60 on Adams' inside basket with 10:22 to play.
Washington was 7-of-20 on 3-pointers in the first half, but took only five, and made two, in the second when they dominated inside and shot 60 percent.