'Cats Save Best For Last In 79-76 Win Over USC

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March 12, 2004

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - As Arizona freshman Mustafa Shakur released his game-winning shot, he had no doubt. The ball was going in.

He was right.

Shakur made a 3-pointer as time expired Thursday night, giving 21st-ranked Arizona a 79-76 victory over Southern California in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament.

Shakur took an inbounds pass from under the USC basket with 4.7 seconds left, quickly dribbled upcourt and let fly from the top of the key. The ball hit nothing but net.

'It feels good, obviously,' Shakur said with a smile. 'There was an opportunity there. I just took it. Once I shot it, it felt like everything was in slow motion.'

The 19-year-old Shakur said it was the first game-winning shot he's ever made. It was the only 3-point shot he attempted in the game. He was 16-of-43 from outside the arc previously this season.

'I don't know what you can say other than we feel very fortunate to get this one,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said.

Hassan Adams led the Wildcats with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Channing Frye added 19 points, and Shakur had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The third-seeded Wildcats (20-8) face second-seeded Washington in Friday night's semifinals at Staples Center. The Huskies (18-10) rallied to beat UCLA 91-83 earlier Thursday night.

The Wildcats were extended to the final buzzer despite a horrible game by USC star Desmon Farmer, who shot 2-of-20 for four points in his final game for the Trojans. He missed all 12 shots he tried from 3-point range.

The point total was the lowest for Farmer, USC's fourth-leading career scorer, since he was held scoreless against Oregon as a sophomore.

'Desmon had a tough night - that's the way the basketball bounces. I guess he was due for one of those,' USC coach Henry Bibby said.

'Coach told me to keep shooting. I was going to do what coach told me,' Farmer said. 'I was trying. It just wasn't my night.'

Salim Stoudamire spent much of the game defending Farmer. Stoudamire, Arizona's leading scorer, shot 3-of-15 in scoring eight points.

'Salim had a bad shooting night, but he held Farmer to an even worse one,' Olson said.

Freshman Lodrick Stewart led USC (13-15) with 20 points to equal his career high. Errick Craven added 18 points and Jeff McMillan had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Trojans.

Shakur made two free throws with 3:07 left to give the Wildcats a 76-70 lead, but Stewart scored six straight points - the final two on a basket with 1:14 remaining to tie the game.

Farmer shot on airball on a long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Wildcats a final shot at winning in regulation. Shakur did just that.

USC called a timeout before Arizona's last possession. The Wildcats were out of timeouts at that stage.

'I called a timeout to set up what we were going to do defensively,' Bibby said. 'Whatever it was, it didn't work. We let them get in too deep. They made the shot.'

After trailing by 13 points in the first half, the Trojans outscored the Wildcats 11-3 to begin the second half for a 47-43 lead - their first of the game.

Farmer, who scored a career-high 40 points in USC's 99-90 victory over Arizona two months ago, showed his frustration after shooting an airball on a 3-point attempt with 11� minutes remaining to make him 1-of-16.

Despite his problems, the Trojans led 56-55 at that stage.

Farmer missed two free throws 2� minutes later, but Craven scored two baskets during an 8-2 run that gave the Trojans a 66-63 lead with 6:54 left.

Andre Iguodala, who had 12 points before fouling out with 3:20 remaining, scored five straight points to trigger an 11-0 run that gave the Wildcats a 21-9 lead, and two free throws by Frye made it 27-14.

Farmer missed his first seven shots before making a layup 3:43 before halftime, cutting Arizona's lead to 34-26.

Those were Farmer's only points of the half, when he shot 1-of-12, including 0-of-7 from 3-point range. At one stage, after missing a wide-open 3-pointer, he banged the floor in disgust.

Nevertheless, the Trojans outscored Arizona 17-8 to finish the half to cut the Wildcats' lead to 40-36.

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