No. 12 Wildcats Down Butler, 72-60
Dec. 28, 2000
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - At this point, any win is a good win for Arizona.
The Wildcats, the preseason No. 1 now down to 12th after losing three games,survived a scare and beat Butler 72-60 victory Thursday night as Loren Woodsscored 25 points.
The Bulldogs trailed 62-60 with 5:36 left in the game, but Woods had threebaskets as the Wildcats finished with a 10-0 run.
'Butler is a good basketball team,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'Theyhave balance and good shooters. We knew that this was going to be a battle, andit was a good opportunity.'
Woods, who also had nine rebounds and led the Wildcats (7-3) to a 44-22advantage on the glass, thought his game was only fair as he tries to play hisway into shape after serving a six-game NCAA suspension.
'I thought I played all right tonight,' he said. 'I'm trying to get backinto a rhythm. Most guys out there have played at least 10 games so far, andI've only played in four. I still have to work hard to get to the point where Iwant to be.'
Woods had 19 points in the second half to send Arizona to its 31stconsecutive victory in the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, which began in 1985and has never had another champion.
'Tonight we focused on getting the ball down in the post,' Michael Wrightsaid. 'Loren was able to really work underneath with their smaller size.'
The Wildcats will meet Mississippi State, a 90-80 winner overLouisiana-Lafayette, in the championship game Saturday.
Wright had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Jason Gardner scored 13 pointsfor the erratic Wildcats (7-3), who have won only four of their last sevengames.
Butler (6-4) got 18 points from Ryan Hainje, but wasn't able to keep itsthree-game winning streak alive against the first ranked team it has facedsince a 69-68 overtime loss to Florida in the first round of the NCAAtournament last March.
'We're not afraid of anybody,' Hainje said. 'We come into every gamethinking we're going to win it.'
Jordan LaVall and Joel Cornette had 10 points each for Butler.
The Wildcats used some stingy defense to pull away at the end.
The turning point came when Rob Walls, harassed by Richard Jefferson on thebaseline, threw the ball away to Gardner. At the other end, Gardner hit a3-pointer, and Arizona took a 69-60 lead with 31 seconds to play.
Thirteen seconds later, Woods got the last of his three blocks againstThomas Jackson, was fouled and made two free throws with 16.3 seconds to play.
Six of the game's 10 lead changes occurred in the first 4:12 of the secondhalf, when Hainje hit two jumpers 34 seconds apart for 35-34 and 37-36 Butlerleads, and the 7-foot Woods responded with layups.
'Our players felt as though we weren't given much chance to win this, and Ithink they enjoyed the extra motivation,' Butler coach Thad Matta said.
Cornette dunked at the 3:36 mark, and Butler took its last lead, 39-38 asWright made a layup 36 seconds later, and the Wildcats stayed ahead.
The Wildcats, who fell behind by seven points against LSU in their last gameon Dec. 20, led from the start this time, but couldn't put the Bulldogs away.
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer