No. 19 Arizona Downs Cal
Jan. 31, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - A glance at the halftime stat sheet brought aknowing grin to the face of Arizona coach Lute Olson.
Even though his 19th-ranked Wildcats trailed 33-31, star point guard JasonGardner had just two points on a couple of free throws.
'Jason is a winner,' Olson said. 'If he hasn't had much in the first halfin the past you can count on him coming through in the second.'
Gardner scored all but two of his game-high 17 points after halftime and theWildcats broke California's 12-game home winning streak with a 68-58 victoryThursday night.
In Olson's 600th game, Arizona (14-6, 7-3 Pac-10) went on a 12-0 run midwaythrough the second half to break a 49-49 tie.
Rick Anderson had 16 points and 13 rebounds while Luke Walton added 13points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Wildcats, who had lost twostraight. They avoided their first three-game losing streak since 1992.
Joe Shipp had 12 points, Ryan Forehan-Kelly 11 and Brian Wethers and AmitTamir each added 10 for the Bears (14-5, 5-4), who lost a second straight gamefor the first time this season.
Gardner scored 11 of his team's 13 points as the Wildcats turned a 38-33deficit into a 46-42 lead with 13:00 remaining. The 5-foot-10 junior hit a3-pointer, two driving layups and four free throws in the run. He also finishedwith six rebounds.
'I was just way too passive the first half,' said Gardner, the team'sleading scorer at 21.3 points per game. 'Coach told me to go out there andtake a few more shots. That's what I did.'
Said Olson: 'In crunch time, he'll always step it up.'
After Cal tied it 49-49 on a jumper by Forehan-Kelly, Arizona rattled offthe 12 straight points as part of a 16-3 run to essentially put it away.Tamir's 3-pointer was Cal's only field goal in a span of 8:39.
Arizona prevailed despite its second lowest offensive output of the season.
'This was a great win in a very difficult place to play as 12 other teamshave found out,' Olson said. 'Cal missed shots it normally makes but I'd liketo think our defense had something to do with it.'
Cal fell behind 18-7 and made just three of its first 15 shots, before goingon a 22-5 run keyed by Wethers and Tamir, both reserves, to go up 29-23.
Wethers, who is the team's second leading scorer despite starting just fivegames, had a spectacular dunk, a basket on a nifty spin and another on a fastbreak, while Tamir drilled two long jumpers and converted a putback in the run.
'We took their best punch and were right there,' Olson said.
The Bears did most of their damage without Soloman Hughes and Jamal Sampsonas both 6-11 players sat out early with fouls. Sampson was also fighting a flubug.
Without much of an inside presence, the Bears struggled from the perimeter,especially the second half.
'Our game is inside,' California coach Ben Braun said. 'Playing without alegitimate inside threat really hurt.'
The Bears took just 12 free throws (making nine), while the Wildcats were16-of-31.
'We can't be successful going to the line eight, 10, 12 times a game,'Braun said. 'We also didn't take advantage of our depth.'
The Wildcats handed Cal its last home loss, 78-76 on March 10, 2001, whenGardner drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds. The Bears came in allowingjust 62.7 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting.
'It wasn't so much what (Cal) was doing defensively (the first half) butwhat we weren't doing,' Gardner said. 'We got the ball moving around betterin the second half and that's why we came all the way back.'