No. 12 Arizona Falls To Mississippi State On Last-Second Jumper

Dec. 30, 2000

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - If the Arizona Wildcats were going to lose in theirholiday tournament, it was bound to be to a Southeastern Conference team.

Antonio Jackson arched a shot over Richard Jefferson with 9.4 seconds left,and Mississippi State shocked No. 12 Arizona 75-74 Saturday night - theWildcats' first loss in the 16-year history of the Bank One Fiesta BowlClassic.

Seconds later, Mario Austin rebounded a miss by Jefferson, and the jubilantBulldogs raced to the center of Lute Olson Court, where Arizona had won 191 ofits last 202 games, to celebrate.

'I thought they would have (Gilbert) Arenas guarding me, but they switchedto Jefferson,' Jackson said. 'I knew he was a high leaper, so I had to archmy shot a lot more. They tried to switch defenders on me a lot, but it reallydidn't keep me from doing what I'm able to do.'

Jackson, who scored 28 points in a 90-80 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in thefirst round, finished with 22 this time on 9-of-17 shooting and was therewhenever the Bulldogs (8-2) needed him down the stretch of their fifthconsecutive victory.

'He had 28 the other day, and he was one of the guys that we focused ontrying to stop,' Arizona associate coach Jim Rosborough said. 'He broke usdown. He had some switches, he went over our people a couple of times and hehit the big shot at the end.'

Arizona (7-4), the preseason No. 1, was trying to pull out a win for Olson,who announced before the game that he was taking a leave of absence fromcoaching to support his wife in her battle with cervical cancer.

But the Wildcat's spotty play continued, and the game turned out the sameway as a Dec. 9 contest at Connecticut - a narrow loss - with Rosboroughguiding the team in Olson's place.

Marckell Patterson had 15 points for the Bulldogs.

Loren Woods, the hero of a 72-60 win over Butler on Thursday, had 21 pointsand nearly earned the laurels again when he made a layup with 22.8 seconds toplay. But Jackson came through, and Jefferson missed in the final seconds.

Jefferson had 20 points, and Arenas scored 14 for Arizona but couldn't keepthe Wildcats' 31-0 record in their holiday tournament intact. It was Arizona'sfourth loss in the last eight games - and its 17th in 27 games against the SEC.

'To have this talented of a team and be the first (Arizona) team to lose inthis tournament is really embarrassing,' Woods said. 'But you have to giveMississippi State a lot of credit. They played hard, and they had the totalpackage.'

Jefferson shot Arizona to a 72-69 lead with a 3-pointer with 1:12 to play.

But Austin put back a blocked shot with 58 seconds to play, and Pattersonmade two free throws with 37 seconds to go, setting the stage for the matchingscores by Woods and Jackson.

The Bulldogs had a 67-61 lead after Tyrus Boswell sank a 3-pointer with 4:04left in the game,

After six lead changes, Mississippi State led the last 8:27 of the firsthalf and the first 7:01 of the second.

The game turned temporarily when Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury was assesseda technical at the 6:53 mark of the second half. Woods made both free throws,shrinking the Bulldogs' lead to 45-43, and in the next 42 seconds Arenas madetwo 3-pointers, sending the Wildcats to a 49-45 lead with 12:25 left to play.

Jackson stayed hot, and the Bulldogs caught up at 52-51 on his two freethrows with 10:03 to go.

'We weren't intimidated,' Stansbury said. 'We've faced hostileenvironments like this in the SEC, and it can actually help you emotionally.Off our scouting report, we believed we had a chance to come in here and win.'

No more than three points separated the teams until the final 6:06 of thefirst half, when Robert Jackson gave the Bulldogs a 19-14 lead with a layup.

It was part of a 19-8 run in 6 1/2 minutes that carried Mississippi State to a32-22 lead with 2:03 remaining.

Woods had two free throws and Luke Walton came off the bench to sink a3-pointer as Arizona got within 32-27 by the break. But Mississippi Statestayed unbeaten (8-0) when leading at halftime.

AP Sports Writer

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