Arizona Breezes Past Butler Into Sweet 16
March 18, 2001
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Arizona's answer for Butler's disciplined style ofplay was defense. All over the floor, all the time. On the inside and at theperimeter.
'Defensively we're a talented team. People look at our scores and talkabout our offense, 80 and 90 points, but we hold teams to low shootingpercentages,' Arizona center Loren Woods said.
'We knew we had to bury this team after they hung around for 20 or 25minutes.'
And in the second half, the Wildcats' talent was too much for the tenaciousBulldogs.
Arizona got balanced scoring, strong rebounding and the tough defense itneeded and pulled away for a 73-52 victory in the Midwest Regional.
The second-seeded Wildcats (25-7) won for the 17th time in 19 games andadvanced to San Antonio for their fourth trip to the regional semifinals in thelast six years.
'We have a shot if we keep our mind on our business and play the way we'recapable of playing. We have a shot against anybody,' Arizona coach Lute Olsonsaid.
`We've just played some great defense the last month and a half.'
Arizona shut off Butler's perimeter game that had been so effective in theBulldogs' first-round rout of Wake Forest.
Butler had a seven-point lead late in the first half but Arizona erased thatwith an 11-2 spurt to close the half and then took over with 15-0 second-halfrun.
Butler's 3-point shooters couldn't get the shots they wanted and theBulldogs went scoreless for nearly seven minutes during the second-half Arizonarun.
After making 8-of-15 from the 3-point line in the victory over Wake, theBulldogs managed just 6-of-26, including 2-of-16 in the second half.
'To shoot a good percentage you have to get good looks and in the secondhalf Arizona just took away all our good looks. We wore down and our shots wereshort,' said Butler's Brandon Miller, who had just four points after scoring18 in the first round.
'That's definitely one of the best college basketball teams I've seen in along time,' Butler coach Thad Matta said. 'They just took away every thing wewanted to do.'
Gilbert Arenas scored 15 points, Michael Wright had 14 and Jason Gardner andthe 7-foot-1 Woods 12 each for Arizona.
Getting a big lift off the bench from Luke Walton, who had 10 rebounds, theWildcats dominated the boards, 39-20. They also had a big advantage at the foulline, hitting 17-of-18 to just 4-of-5 for Butler .
'We knew how good they were going to be,' Walton said of Butler, whichlost to Arizona for the second time this season.
'We knew just being Arizona wasn't going to matter to them. They were agood disciplined team and therefore defense was a focus. And that was right upthere as one of best defensive performances of the season.'
LaVall Jordan led 10th-seeded Butler (24-8) with 17 points, but had onlyfive in the second half.
'We knew they would come at us on the inside,' Jordan said. 'We had someemotion in the first half but we died out some in the second half and we knewthey would pound us on the inside.'
After taking a four-point lead at the half, the Wildcats' quickness began totake over in the second.
Gardner beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer off a one-on-one move and afterArenas took an alley oop pass from Richard Jefferson for a basket, Gardner madea steal and drove for a layup.
That gave the Wildcats a 43-34 lead with just over 15 minutes to go.
Leading by seven, the Wildcats then went on the 15-0 run as Butler becameunglued.
Woods had a short jumper and later hit two free throws after an intentionalfoul call on Butler's Scott Robisch. The final nine points of the run came atthe line and Arizona had a 58-36 lead with 7:13 to go.
The Wildcats beat Butler 72-60 in Tucson in December, although it was afour-point game with 90 seconds left.
This time, it wasn't that close and the Wildcats are moving on.
By RICK GANO
AP Sports Writer