No. 17 Arizona Defeats No. 24 USC, 71-58

Jan. 18, 2001

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Gilbert Arenas scored 18 points as 17th-ranked Arizonawelcomed coach Lute Olson back with a 71-58 victory over No. 24 SouthernCalifornia on Thursday night.

Jason Gardner scored 17 points, 12 in the last 6 1/2 minutes on two 3-pointersand 6-of-6 free throws, for Arizona (11-5, 4-1 Pac-10). Richard Jefferson alsoscored 17 points and had a season-high nine rebounds. Michael Wright added 13points.

Sam Clancy had 23 points for the Trojans (12-4, 2-2), who lost their secondin a row. David Bluthenthal added 14 points, but only three in the second half.

The Wildcats outscored USC 11-3 over the final 3 1/2 minutes.

Olson was back on the sidelines after a five-game absence. He took anindefinite leave of absence on Dec. 30, and two days later his wife of 47years, Bobbi, died of ovarian cancer.

Arizona was 3-2 in his absence, 3-1 in Pac-10 play.

Olson received a long standing ovation from the crowd, along with chants of'Luuuute! Luuuute!' when he came onto the court with the team before thegame. The court, named for Olson last year, was renamed 'Lute and Bobbi OlsonCourt' following her death Jan. 1.

Arizona took the lead for good 7 1/2 minutes into the game and was up by asmany as 13 in the first half. But the Trojans came back to cut the lead to twoin the second half.

The Wildcats played some of their best defense of the season to lead by asmany as 13 in the first half and were up 35-26 at the break.

But Arizona missed 11 in a row during a 9-2 surge that cut the lead to 48-46on Clancy's two free throws with 10:47 to play. After Olson called a timeout,Jefferson had a slam-dunk on a lob pass from Loren Woods to ignite a 12-4 runthat boosted Arizona's lead to 60-50 on Jason Gardner's 3-pointer with 6:29remaining.

Gardner also sank a 3-pointer to boost the Wildcats' lead to 63-55 with 3:28to go.

USC made its first four 3-pointers in the second half, but was 0-for-8 afterthat.

Arizona scored 11 consecutive points to go up 21-12 with 9:46 left in thehalf. Wright capped the run with a three-point play, followed by an insidebasket.

Another 10-2 spurt gave the Wildcats a 33-20 lead on Wright's two freethrows 2:24 before halftime.

Woods finished the game with just two points, nearly 14 below his seasonaverage.

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