No. 8 Arizona Downs No. 1 Stanford In Classic Battle
March 8, 2001
STANFORD, Calif. - The Pac-10 title wasn't quite on the line. Neitherwere the postseason hopes of top-ranked Stanford or No. 8 Arizona.
Yet both teams still played as if everything hinged on the result of thelatest meeting between the West Coast's basketball powers.
Michael Wright's layup with three seconds left gave the Wildcats a 76-75victory over Stanford in a back-and-forth game that exhausted both teams - andprimed them for what they hope will be long runs in the NCAA tournament.
'That was a great college basketball game, not only from the standpoint ofhow hard both teams played, but how into the game the fans were,' Arizonacoach Lute Olson said. 'We were very fortunate to win, and if Stanford wouldhave won, they would have been the fortunate ones.'
Gilbert Arenas' 22 points, a dominant rebounding performance and toughdefense in the final minutes allowed the Wildcats to claim their second victoryover a No. 1 Stanford team in two seasons.
Wright's layup in traffic allowed Arizona (22-7, 14-3) to delay theCardinal's hopes of claiming the outright Pac-10 title. Stanford must beatArizona State on Saturday to avoid sharing the conference crown with Arizonaand even UCLA.
The Wildcats, who outrebounded the Cardinal 36-27 and got 11 offensiveboards, also avenged their loss to Stanford two months ago.
'It hurt us a lot to lose to them at home,' said Richard Jefferson, whohad 14 points. 'We just told ourselves before the game that we can't let theseguys sweep us this year, because then we'd have to hang out for the next coupleof months and think about it.'
Stanford (27-2, 15-2) led for much of the second half, but Arenas' steal andlayup with 3:06 left gave Arizona a two-point lead. Stanford got back ahead onfour points by Jason Collins, but he was called for an offensive foul with 42seconds left. Jason Gardner hit one free throw to pull Arizona within 75-74.
Casey Jacobsen missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, and Arizona set upone last play. Wright got the ball from Loren Woods in the middle of the key,sliced between two defenders and put the ball in.
'The last play worked exactly as we had planned,' Wright said. 'Gilbertset a great screen, and I posted up. Loren made a perfect pass, and I muscledit in.'
With three seconds on the clock, Jarron Collins threw a length-of-the-courtpass that was intercepted by Arenas. The Wildcats stormed the court incelebration and joyfully taunted the Stanford student body on the way to thelocker room.
'This isn't going to be a big deal, but this has to motivate us,' Jacobsensaid. 'This shouldn't happen, but it's not going to stop us from doing what wewant to do.'
Wright and Jefferson had 14 points apiece for Arizona, which won its fifthstraight and likely sewed up a No. 2 seed in the tournament. Woods had 10points and eight rebounds while playing solid defense against Stanford'sCollins twins.
Jacobsen and Jason Collins had 20 points apiece as Stanford lost at home forthe second time in four games.
'We gave them the opportunity to get a win, and they took it,' Stanfordcoach Mike Montgomery said. 'We had so many other opportunities late in thegame, I lost count.'
Much of the game's drama was lost when Stanford swept UCLA and Southern Callast week in Los Angeles. Those wins guaranteed the Cardinal a share of theirthird straight conference title and practically assured a No. 1 seed in thetournament no matter the results of their last two games.
But when Arizona is in town, it's never a normal game for Stanford. Studentsbegan camping out Monday for tickets to the annual grudge match. One studentstood outside the gym holding a sign that made a uniquely Stanford plea: 'WillTutor Math For Tickets.'
Stanford beat Arizona 85-76 in Tucson two months ago while the Wildcats werestill without Olson after his wife Bobbi's death.
Though little was technically at stake, the teams played as if their seasonsdepended on bragging rights in this heated rivalry. Neither team gained asizeable lead all night.
Stanford began the game with Curtis Borchardt out for the season and backupforward Justin Davis unavailable because of an ankle injury. Then Jason Collinspicked up three fouls in the game's first five minutes, leaving sporadicallyused backup Teyo Johnson to play 16 minutes.
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer