Wildcat Men Cruise In Season Opener
Nov 23, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - No. 1 Arizona delivered an ominous message to future opponents in its season opener: Look out.
Freshman Hassan Adams scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half to lead seven Wildcats in double figures in a 107-68 rout of 19th-ranked Western Kentucky on Saturday.
'We are going to win a lot of games by a lot of points,' Arizona's Luke Walton said.
The Hilltoppers, also playing their season opener, committed 28 turnovers against Arizona's trapping, pressing defense.
'The defense is coming,' coach Lute Olson said. 'This could be a very, very good defensive team by the time we get done.'
The Wildcats looked pretty good already, and they didn't have guard Salim Stoudamire, the Pac-10 freshman of the year last season who sat out the game with a sprained ankle.
'If we want to win, we have to destroy whoever we play. If it's a top 20 team or not.'
--Arizona's Hassan Adams
'That's the most effective rolling-up and trapping, risk-oriented full-court pressure that I've ever played against probably in my entire career,' Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton said. 'They're an incredible team. ... They're in another solar system from us in terms of athleticism and talent.'
The Wildcats blew open an 18-4 lead and were up by as many as 32 points in the first half. Western Kentucky trailed by as many as 42 and never got closer than 24 in the second half.
'Today it was just a matter of too much depth and too much quickness,' Olson said.
Rick Anderson scored 14 for Arizona, all in the first half, and Jason Gardner added 12, all in the second half. Walton had 12 points and seven assists, Will Bynum scored 12 points, Channing Frye added 10 points and nine rebounds and freshman Andre Iguodala had 10 points. No Wildcat played more than 26 minutes.
David Boyden scored 26 for Western Kentucky, including four 3-pointers. Boyden said that although Arizona is a great team, the Hilltoppers can play much better.
'Arizona is a great, great team. There's no drop-off at all,' Boyden said. 'All their guys are so skilled and can put the ball in the basket in bunches. They deserve all their preseason accolades.'
Western Kentucky was without 7-foot-1 Chris Marcus, who is recovering from ankle surgery, but still had four returning players who started at least 14 games last season, when the Hilltoppers were 22-4.
The Hilltoppers lost two starters to injuries. Mike Wells left when he was elbowed in the face late in the first half, and Todor Pandov, who scored 12 points, had to be helped from the court with an injured left knee with 13:31 to play in the game.
Wells' injury wasn't serious, but Pandov's was.
'If Todor is done for the season, it's going to be a tremendous blow to our team,' Boyden said, 'because he's a guy that we depend on to put the ball in the basket.'
Arizona led 53-25 at the half even though Gardner, the No. 2 scorer in the Pac-10 last season, didn't have a point and took just two shots. He doesn't need to score with a team Olson says is his deepest and most athletic.
'The thing that's obvious is we got a lot of pressure on them, then all of a sudden we've got fresh guys in there who continue to put the pressure on,' Olson said. 'The opponent may be getting a little tired physically, but it really works on them mentally.'
The Wildcats' defense wreaked havoc from the start, forcing eight turnovers in the first 7ï¿½ minutes and 15 in the first half.
Adams' slam on a lob from Gardner after a turnover made it 18-4 with 13:10 to play in the half, and Bynum's 16-footer put Arizona up 22-6 with 10:24 remaining.
Boyden's stuff capped a 11-5 spurt that cut Arizona's lead to 27-17 with 6:27 left until halftime.
But the Wildcats stepped up the pressure again in a 24-2 outburst that made it 51-19 on Adams' 10-footer with 1:35 to go in the half. Walton and Bynum each made two 3-pointers and Anderson one during the run.
'If we want to win,' Adams said, 'We have to destroy whoever we play. If it's a top 20 team or not.'
Ten Wildcats played at least six minutes in the first half.
The Wildcats committed 20 turnovers but outrebounded the Hilltoppers 42-25.