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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona lets it slip away

    USCs Abdoulaye Ndiaye rips the ball away from UA forward Marcus Williams during Arizonas 80-75 loss to the Trojans last night in McKale Center. Stewart and teammate Nick Young both finished with 26 points, while Williams fouled out with just over two minutes left to play.
    USC’s Abdoulaye N’diaye rips the ball away from UA forward Marcus Williams during Arizona’s 80-75 loss to the Trojans last night in McKale Center. Stewart and teammate Nick Young both finished with 26 points, while Williams fouled out with just over two minutes left to play.

    Every time Arizona gained an advantage, USC responded to close the gap with an emphatic “”we’re still here.””

    In the end, it was the No. 22 Trojans (19-7, 9-4) who had the final answer, snapping the No. 19 Wildcats (17-8, 8-6 Pacific 10 Conference) three game-winning streak with an 80-75 win in McKale Center.

    It was the first time USC swept Arizona in the season series since 1983 and marked Arizona’s first four-loss season at home since 2001-02.

    The Wildcats held a 71-67 lead, but let the game slip out of their hands, in some cases literally. USC finished the game on a 13-5 run, benefiting from Arizona’s 16 turnovers.

    “”We played a good game until the last three minutes,”” said Chase Budinger, who led Arizona with 19 points.

    The Wildcats shot an even 50 percent from the field, yet couldn’t convert down the stretch, and even worse, couldn’t stop USC’s big two, guards Lodrick Stewart and Nick Young.

    After Arizona held a 73-72 lead, Stewart made a jump shot and Young followed with a jumper from the wing while being fouled by Marcus Williams, who fouled out on the play, which Budinger called “”a momentum changer.””

    Senior point guard Mustafa Shakur turned the ball over with 1:15 left to go and Arizona down 77-73, and then committed a foul seven seconds later.

    “”The difference in the game was the turnovers,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson, who had a similar reaction after Arizona turned the ball over 17 times at the Galen Center in January.

    Shakur and Budinger had a chance to cut into the four point lead again with Arizona down 79-75, but Shakur missed a jumper and Budinger missed a corner three with seven seconds left, dooming Arizona to its eighth loss of the season.

    “”We just didn’t take care of the ball at the end of the game,”” Shakur said.

    Added Budinger: “”It’s composure, we started getting too frantic out there, just started playing bad basketball instead of taking our time, being patient, moving the ball and getting a good shot.””

    For the second game this season, Arizona’s biggest problem came in the form of Young, but this time he was joined by Stewart. The duo scored 25 of the team’s first 27 points and finished with 26 points apiece.

    “”You try your best to stay in front of them but they made some tough shots,”” said Williams who scored 10 points but had seven turnovers. “”I can remember a couple of them where I was just like, ‘You gotta be kidding.'””

    Olson, who walked out of the locker room sans tie after the game, stressed the importance of keeping Young and his teammates out of the middle of the lane, but said USC had eight drives to the middle in each half.

    “”We shot it well, 50 percent against this team”” – USC leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense – “”but we couldn’t stop Young and Stewart,”” Olson said.

    Shakur scored 16 points and dished out six assists, but had four turnovers.

    Forward Ivan Radenovic scored 11 points, but was forced to defend USC’s perimeter players.

    Both teams came out of halftime with guns drawn, when the Wildcats and the Trojans combined for 23 points in the first four minutes of the second half. But USC managed to inch just a point closer over the span with a 12-11 advantage.

    After being tied at 51, Arizona outscored USC 11-4, capped by a flying Budinger, who threw down a thunderous two-hand dunk, jumping from outside the left box after receiving a bounce pass from Shakur.

    The Trojans climbed back in with a 7-0 run behind four points from Stewart, who came off the bench for USC after a tough week in which he saw his mother hospitalized from a nervous breakdown and his great-grandfather die.

    “”He was catching it off double screens and going up and just making it every time,”” Budinger said.

    With Arizona up 19-10 midway through the first half, USC answered with a 10-0 run by Young and Stewart, who each scored five points.

    Budinger went out at the 13:10 mark in the first half for a short break, with zero shot attempts. When he came back in, he scored seven straight points, hitting a corner three, driving down the middle of the lane to the basket to earn two free throws and scoring on a tip in.

    Guard Daniel Dillon gave Arizona some pop off the bench, drilling a 3-pointer from each corner to score six points. Dillon didn’t score in three of the last four games he played in.

    Dillon said he was inserted to help guard Young and Stewart, but there was little Arizona’s defenders could do to slow them down.

    “”Every time we had the momentum, they would come back and hit a big three or a hit a biog shot,”” Budinger said. “”It’s something where we need to learn how to put teams away.””

    And 1

    Jordan Hill, who is battling a respiratory illness, wore an Arizona sweatshirt in warm-ups. He scored six points, and only two in the second half, but made all three of his attempts … The student section sold only with the help of the general public who was able to buy tickets starting Wednesday … UA radio play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries was presented with a basketball, baseball, and football jersey with the No. 20 for his 20 years as the voice of Arizona sports on the radio.

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