USC Beats Arizona In Nailbiter, 94-89
Feb. 16, 2002
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - David Bluthenthal got back in the good graces of SouthernCalifornia coach Henry Bibby at just the right time.
Bluthenthal scored 23 of his career-high 31 points in the second half, andSam Clancy had 28 points and 11 rebounds as No. 25 USC beat No. 9 Arizona 94-89Saturday to move into a first-place tie in the Pacific-10 Conference.
Bluthenthal had scored a total of 21 points in four games before coming offthe bench to score 21 in an 83-61 victory over Arizona State on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-7 senior returned to the starting lineup against Arizona and camethrough with a career game, making 12-of-19 shots including 7-of-12 from3-point range. He also had nine rebounds while playing all 40 minutes.
Bluthenthal was in a zone in the second half, making 9-of-10 shots including4-of-5 from 3-point range. His back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Trojans an81-77 lead with 3:17 remaining, and they were on top the rest of the way.
'A huge win,' Bluthenthal said with a broad grin after what heacknowledged was the best game of his career.
Bluthenthal said he wasn't angry about being benched by Bibby.
'He told me I was going to get my playing time,' Bluthenthal said. 'Hemight have been trying to send a message to me. I had been working hard up tothat point. I just stayed positive and kept working harder.'
Bluthenthal said he probably took more shots in the last week than he has ina similar period in his life in preparing for the Arizona schools.
'Probably a thousand,' he said when asked how many per day.
Bibby refused to say Bluthenthal was in his doghouse.
'We're always proud of David Bluthenthal,' Bibby said. 'Sometimes you runinto obstacles, you're going to have your ups and downs. But when he plays likethat, we can play with a lot of teams.'
By winning for just the second time in their last 10 games against Arizona,the Trojans (18-7, 10-4 Pac-10) moved ahead of the Wildcats in a bunchedconference race.
'USC deserved to win,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'They were muchmore aggressive on the glass. We made too many mistakes with the ball.
'USC is much stronger and physical than us. With the combination of Clancyand Bluthenthal, they have perhaps the best pair of big men in theconference.'
The Wildcats (17-8, 10-5) made 28-of-54 shots (51.9 percent) and 16-of-29from 3-point range (53.6 percent), but committed 18 turnovers to only seven forUSC and were outrebounded 36-33.
USC shot 33-of-73 (45.2 percent) including 10-of-30 from 3-point range (33.3percent).
Arizona suffered its second straight tough loss in Los Angeles, having lostto No. 20 UCLA 77-76 on Thursday night.
The Bruins (17-8, 9-5) were upset 69-68 by Arizona State on Saturday.
Clancy's double-double was his 10th straight, the longest such active streakin the country. He has played 40 minutes in three straight games and four ofthe last five.
'Everyone played great,' Clancy said. 'As a team, I think it was one ofour best games.'
Of Bluthenthal, Clancy said: 'He made some big shots. If he doesn't makethem, we don't win the game. He's one of the best shooters in the country.'
Errick Craven added 14 points and Brandon Granville scored 12 - all in thesecond half - and had 11 assists for USC.
Jason Gardner led Arizona with 27 points, but was held scoreless for thefirst 14 minutes and didn't score after making a 3-pointer with 6:17remaining.
Luke Walton added 19 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists and Rick Andersonand Salim Stoudamire scored 18 for the Wildcats. Anderson's point total matchedhis career high, and he also had 11 rebounds.
A basket by Channing Frye gave Arizona a 77-75 lead before Bluthenthal madehis key 3-pointers.
Stoudamire's 3-pointer with 7.7 seconds cut USC's lead to 91-89 beforeGranville, who made 7-of-8 foul shots in the final 50 seconds, sank 1-of-2 togive the Trojans a three-point lead.
Gardner was called for traveling with 2.9 seconds to play, and Craven's dunkin the final second completed the scoring.
Bluthenthal made consecutive 3-pointers to cap a 15-6 USC run to begin thesecond half, putting the Trojans on top 57-51.
Then it was Arizona's turn, as Gardner's eight points sparked a 13-0 spurtin a little over three minutes that gave the Wildcats a 69-62 lead.
Craven's 3-pointer ended a five-minute USC scoring drought and triggered a9-0 run capped by Bluthenthal's 3-pointer that put the Trojans ahead 71-69 with6:43 left.
Arizona won a 97-80 decision when the teams met in Tucson last month,rolling to a 34-7 lead in handing the Trojans their most one-sided loss of theseason.
There would be no such fast start for the Wildcats in this game. USC led30-18 before the Wildcats finished the first half by outscoring the Trojans27-12 for a 45-42 lead.