No. 10 Arizona Upends USD, 80-69
Nov. 16, 2004
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Wildcats won their 13th consecutivePreseason NIT game Tuesday night - but this was no spectacular debut for a teamthat has its sights on the Final Four.
Mustafa Shakur scored 23 points and Ivan Radenovic 20 - both career highs -in the 10th-ranked Wildcats often-sloppy 80-69 victory over San Diego.
Salim Stoudamire also scored 20 for the Wildcats, who are 13-1 overall inthe Preseason NIT. Arizona won the tournament in its last three appearances -1990, 1995, 1999.
The Wildcats knew that they didn't play up to their potential.
'The first half was excellent. The second half was disgusting,' Stoudamiresaid. 'I wanted to win, and I wanted to win by a lot. I thought we should havewon by 40.'
The Wildcats host Wright State in the second round Thursday night. Thewinner goes to the semifinals in New York next week.
Brice Vounang, San Diego's 6-foot-8, 250-pound center with a soft shootingtouch, matched his career best with 28 points and had 11 rebounds for theToreros. Brandon Gay added 17 points.
'He had a great game,' Toreros coach Brad Holland said of Vounang. 'Hewas all-conference last season, and he's taking the pressure well. He did agreat job on Channing Frye. We didn't have to double him. He did a good jobone-on-one with him.'
Shakur, the team's sophomore playmaker who averaged just six shots a gamelast season, was 7-for-12 in Arizona's season opener.
Radenovic, in his second season with the Wildcats from Serbia andMontenegro, was 8-for-17 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats led 41-23 at halftime.
San Diego, coming off a 4-26 season and 1-13 in the West Coast Conference,trailed only 14-10 after Vounang's 10-footer with 11:42 to play in the half.But Shakur banked in a 3-pointer to start at 16-0 Arizona run that made it30-12 on Radenovic's fastbreak layup with 5:15 left in the half.
Shakur scored eight, Stoudamire five and Radenovic three during the surge.
From that point on, the outmanned Toreros outscored Arizona 57-50.
'One of the things I was a little disappointed in was we did not do a goodjob of really closing them out,' said coach Lute Olson, beginning his 22ndseason at Arizona. 'We just didn't show that killer instinct that we need tohave.'
But Shakur and Radenovic, with late help from Stoudamire, overcame Arizona'spoor shooting to lead the Wildcats to victory.
'We did a good job at times, but we let up in the end. We have to work onthat,' Shakur said.
Olson praised Vounang.
'I'm not sure we're going to play anybody tougher than he is,' Olson said,'because if you forced him to step out and get the ball, which was our firstintent, the guy has got the softest touch off the glass that I've seen in along time. He was a load.'
The Wildcats had 10 turnovers in the first half and San Diego 12. Shakurscored 12, and Stoudamire and Radenovic 10 apiece in the first 10 minutes.
Hassan Adams, who led Arizona in scoring last season at 17.3 points pergame, was 0-for-3 shooting and committed three turnovers in a scoreless firsthalf. He wound up 3-for-12 for six points.
The teams traded baskets, then Radenovic scored inside on a pass from Frye.Stoudamire sank an 18-footer and a 14-foot floater from the baseline andArizona was up 67-49 with five minutes to go.
Arizona's Isaiah Fox sat out the game for disciplinary reasons. He will playThursday, Olson said.