Wildcats Clinch Pac-10 Title

March 1, 2003


AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. - Changing his shoes made all the difference for Salim Stoudamire.

The new pair he had purchased Saturday morning were causing the Arizona star to slip during the first half of the top-ranked Wildcats' 72-69 victory over No. 19 Stanford. So, Stoudamire borrowed some from teammate Jason Gardner for the final 20 minutes.

Stoudamire scored four of his 18 points in the final 45 seconds, and had 12 points after halftime, as Arizona clinched the Pac-10 title for the 10th time in coach Lute Olson's 20-year tenure.

'I wasn't used to them,' Stoudamire said of the shoes, though that certainly didn't show.

Josh Childress had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Stanford, which had its season-best six-game winning streak snapped. The Cardinal had won 10 of their last 11 games and 13 of 15. They also had won nine straight at home.

Childress swished a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to cut Arizona's lead to 68-67. Stoudamire then scored with 43 seconds remaining and came up with a key rebound 18 seconds later and was fouled. He made both free throws.

After the Wildcats' Rick Anderson missed a free throw with 18 seconds left, Stanford had a final chance to tie the game. Childress missed a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left, then Julius Barnes missed a 3 with 1 second on the clock.

At a school where winning Pac-10 titles is commonplace, Stoudamire was especially thrilled with the accomplishment. It's his first conference championship.

'Our intensity on defense was the difference in this game,' the sophomore said. 'We did the dirty work you have to do. In the second half we were a little tired. We were just hoping they would keep missing, and they did. I'm just really happy.'

Arizona (23-2, 15-1) avenged its only conference loss of the season, too - Stanford beat the Wildcats 82-77 on Jan. 30, in Tucson.

Arizona also completed its fourth straight sweep of the Bay area schools, having defeated No. 23 California 88-75 on Thursday.

The Wildcats had won their previous three road games by an average of 15.3 points, but they knew a big margin of victory wasn't likely in this game.

The previous three meetings between these teams at Maples Pavilion were decided by a total of 10 points. And Stanford's win at Arizona a month ago was only the third time in school history the Cardinal (22-7, 13-4) had upset a No. 1 team and the first time on the road.

'Winning the Pac-10 was goal No. 1 for us this year. For us to come up here and get Cal at Cal and Stanford at home was huge.'
Arizona head coach Lute Olson

'That was kind of what we expected,' Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said of the close game. 'Believe it or not, there are a lot of good things for us to pull out of this game. We just couldn't make the shots offensively tonight, but yet we're in the game to the end and we had a wide-open 3 to tie. We competed very well and with a lot of heart. We're disappointed but we're not down.'

Jason Gardner added 12 points and four assists for Arizona, and Anderson had 11 points. Luke Walton, who battled foul trouble early, added 10 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Stanford's Justin Davis had 12 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 1:21 left. He missed the first of two free throws with 1:37 left. Barnes had 10 points and five assists.

Arizona held Stanford to one field goal in a five-minute span late in the second half, but following an airball by Gardner from about 10 feet, Nick Robinson made a jumper on the other end to bring the Cardinal within 64-63 with 3 minutes to go.

Stanford used a 6-0 run to tie the game at 49 with 12:53 left, but couldn't pull ahead. Arizona's bench was whistled for a technical foul with 8:10 left, and Barnes converted both free throws to pull Stanford within 60-57, but the Wildcats again withstood the threat.

'Winning the Pac-10 was goal No. 1 for us this year,' Olson said. 'For us to come up here and get Cal at Cal and Stanford at home was huge.'

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No. 1 Arizona clinched the Pacific-10 title beating No. 19 Stanford 72-69.
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Arizona, which is holding opponents to a league-low 40.7 percent from the field, limited Stanford to 35.4 percent shooting. The Cardinal started the game 4-of-14, but the Wildcats were only 5-for-19. The Cardinal were effective with their matchup zone and man-to-man in the first half, switching often to keep Arizona off-guard. But the Wildcats shot 45 percent in the second half to finish at 42 percent.

Stanford missed many open looks early, several from close range, but trailed only 33-30 at halftime despite shooting 29 percent (9-for-31). The Cardinal got a boost from 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to several putbacks. They outrebounded Arizona 46-41.

Fans were standing and booing the Wildcats a half-hour before tipoff when Arizona took the floor, and one even threw paper at the players.

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