Wildcats Steamroll Panthers, 101-76
March 16, 2001
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The No. 15 seed didn't pull an upset this time. Noteven close.
Gilbert Arenas scored 21 points and second-seeded Arizona used its power andspeed to coast past Eastern Illinois 101-76 Friday in the opening round of theMidwest Regional.
Michael Wright and Loren Woods added 17 points each for the Wildcats (24-7).
Iowa State was ousted Thursday night by Hampton in the West Regional, makingthe Cyclones the fourth No. 2 team since 1991 to lose to a No. 15 in the firstround. That included Arizona's loss to Santa Clara in 1993.
But Arenas and his talented teammates weren't about to let it happen again.
Arizona, making its 17th straight NCAA tournament appearance under LuteOlson, endured a season of turmoil that included the death of the coach's wife,Bobbi, and suspensions for Woods and Richard Jefferson.
Regrouping emotionally, the Wildcats have won 16 of their last 18 gamesheading into Sunday's second-round meeting with Butler.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 43-10 halftime lead Thursday and beat WakeForest 79-63 in the first game at Kemper Arena.
It will be the second meeting this season between Arizona and Butler. TheWildcats took a 12-point win on Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic.
Eastern Illinois (21-10), making its second-ever NCAA appearance, rushed outto an early five-point lead before the Wildcats got going.
Kyle Hill, the nation's No. 3 scorer with a 23.5 average, got 12 ofEastern's first 16 points with a variety of jumpers and acrobatic drives to thebasket. He finished with 32 points.
Arizona withstood the initial outburst from Hill and ran off 14 straightpoints, using a pressing defense and its inside power and strength.
Woods' three-point play and three baskets by Eugene Edgerson highlighted thespurt as the Wildcats rolled to a 28-16 lead.
In the final 13 minutes of the first half, Arizona outscored the overmatchedPanthers 41-17 to build a 55-33 halftime lead as Woods and Wright had 13 pointsand five rebounds apiece in the opening half.
At one point it was so easy for the Wildcats that Arenas had a breakawaylayup but at the last second he turned and fed the ball to Woods for a dunk.Woods got a technical for hanging on the rim.
The second half was more of the same as the Wildcats started with an 11-0run before Eastern could score 4 1/2 minutes into the half.
Arizona, which shot 59 percent, is now 15-0 this season when scoring atleast 80 points.
Eastern's Henry Domercant, who averaged 22.9 as the No. 4 scorer in DivisionI, scored 20 Friday on 5-of-17 shooting.
By RICK GANO
AP Sports Writer