Wildcats Topple Second-Straight Top Ten Opponent, Beat No. 6 Florida 75-71
Nov 9, 2001
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK - Rick Anderson wasn't around for Arizona's run to lastseason's national championship game. He came up with the big plays Friday nightthat made it possible for the Wildcats to win the Coaches vs Cancer Classicwith a second straight upset of a Top Ten team.
The junior forward, who sat out last season as a redshirt, scored Arizona'sfinal six points and the Wildcats beat No. 6 Florida 75-71 to win theseason-opening event at Madison Square Garden.
On Thursday night, Arizona, which returned one starter from last season,shocked No. 2 Maryland 71-67. Maybe it wasn't such a shock.
'We're pleased to come in here and play two outstanding teams like this,'said always low-key Arizona coach Lute Olson. 'Tonight wasn't pretty, wedidn't have the snap and fire we had last night but we competed hard and theone thing we learned in watching them for two nights, they are competitors.'
Anderson, who finished with 11 points, hit an 18-footer as the shot clockexpired with 1:41 left to give Arizona a 71-69 lead.
Orien Greene scored on a drive with 1:05 left to tie it.
Jason Gardner, who led the Wildcats with 23 points, was forced to call atimeout with 28 seconds left when he lost his dribble with 3 seconds left onthe shot clock.
After three 30-second timeouts, two by Arizona, Gardner inbounded the ballto Anderson who took two strong dribbles and made a left-handed layup, again asthe shot clock expired, and the Wildcats had the lead for good.
'I came out of the huddle and I thought I had could make the basket to winus this game,' Anderson said.
Brett Nelson of Florida fell to the floor and was tied up with 14 secondsleft. Playing under the experimental preseason rules, there was a jump ballinstead of using the possession arrow.
The jump ball between Nelson and Luke Walton of the Wildcats resulted in ascramble at midcourt and another jump ball with 10 seconds left.
This time it was the centers jumping, Isaiah Fox of Arizona and Florida'sUdonis Haslem. Florida controlled it but Matt Bonner fired a pass out ofbounds.
Gardner was fouled with 4.9 seconds left and missed both, but he grabbed therebound of the second, threw it high in the air and Anderson got it and madeanother layup as the horn sounded.
Gardner, who had 23 points in the opener and was selected as tournament MVP,wasn't his usual confident self as he went to the foul line.
'I was so nervous. My legs were shaking. My heart was shaking,' he said.'I missed the first one. I missed the second and had a chance to grab it.
'Ricky hit the big shot and made the big layup. I think a lot of that isthat he's a captain, a leader, a veteran.'
The win in this tournament was sweet for Olson beyond the title and two bigwins. His wife, Bobbi, died last January after a long battle with ovariancancer.
'That was always on my mind and even though the freshmen didn't know herand how important she was to this program, the veterans knew what it meant,'Olson said.
Freshman Will Bynum finished with 16 points for Arizona.
Bonner had 15 points for Florida, while Haslem had 14 and Nelson 13.
'Those jump balls are like hockey faceoffs but we got the one we had to,'Florida coach Billy Donovan said. 'Matt Bonner was anxious with that pass andI feel bad for him for the pass he made. We had 10 seconds left. We could havegot something.
'We were erratic. We had spurts where we played well and spurts where weplayed poorly, but we had the opportunities.'
Nelson, who had seven assists, finished 5-for-15 from the field, 3-for-11 on3s, after going 3-for-16 in the opener, including 2-for-10 on 3s. He shot 45percent from 3-point range last season.
'I thought without a doubt after watching them play Maryland, Arizona was atop five team,' Donovan said. 'Anderson made a great play. I thought our guyspsyche changed with 10.6 seconds left when that pass was thrown away. There wasa change in our basketball team.'
Maryland beat No. 16 Temple 82-74 in the third-place game.