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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats secure needed win

    Arizonas Ivan Radenovic powers his way through Stanford defenders Matt Haryasz and Taj Finger during the second half of Arizonas win over Stanford yesterday.
    Arizona’s Ivan Radenovic powers his way through Stanford defenders Matt Haryasz and Taj Finger during the second half of Arizona’s win over Stanford yesterday.

    men’s basketball: arizona 76, stanford 72

    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Arizona head coach Lute Olson said he expected this Arizona basketball team to be as good as last season’s team by mid-February. If yesterday afternoon’s game was any indication, Olson may have been correct.

    Senior guard Hassan Adams broke out of his slump in a big way, scoring 23 points and snatching four steals to catapult the Wildcats 76-72 over Stanford, giving Arizona its first road win since Jan. 25 at ASU, a span of four games.

    “”(The coaches) were telling me ‘you need to just attack,'”” Adams said. “”A lot of teams, I have to give it to them. They did a lot of good things on me in the past few games just taking away what I was doing in the early part of the season, so my big thing was just going back to the basics, attacking no matter what.””

    Arizona (16-10, 9-6 Pacific 10 Conference) pulled away from the Cardinal (13-10, 9-5) early in the second half, using a 12-1 run out of the halftime gates in a 3:37 span to take a nine-point lead after trailing 38-36 at halftime.

    Freshman forward Marcus Williams took charge after scoring just two first-half points, putting in seven points during the run, including an alley-oop dunk, a mid-range jump shot and a 3-pointer.

    “”I was frustrated with myself a lot in the first half, and I didn’t really know why I was playing bad,”” Williams said. “”But I just came in to the locker room, focused, gathered myself and tried to pick up.””

    Junior forward Ivan Radenovic tied Adams for the team lead with 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds while going on an impressive 8-of-10 from the field. Radenovic parked himself on the high post and was either able to drive around the slower Stanford defenders or dish it off to cutters with one of his five assists.

    “”We were working on it (yesterday in practice),”” Radenovic said. “”I can remember a few years ago when I was doing it in Serbia, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we start using it?'””

    On the play, a guard curls off Radenovic when he has the ball and either gets the hand-off if the defender goes under or curls all the way around if the defender goes on top of the screen.

    “”Whenever they curled, I dumped the pass inside,”” Radenovic said. “”That way they didn’t have help, and we got easy layups.””

    Senior guard Chris Rodgers may have not lit up the scoring column, adding only two points to the team’s scoring tally, but he prevented his Stanford counterparts from executing their offense with the precision the Cardinal has been accustomed to.

    “”That’s what we need to do in order to get back in the hunt of things,”” Rodgers said.

    Stanford senior guard Chris Hernandez scored 28 points and made seven 3-pointers, most of them while matched up on other Arizona defenders, but also turned the ball over five times, including four in the first half.

    “”He got some good shots, and he’s a good player, but my teammates really wanted me to take it as a challenge,”” Rodgers said.

    Rodgers was his usual pesky self on the floor, guarding Hernandez full court, causing Hernandez to complain to the officials and drawing boos from Stanford fans. With 7:04 left to play in the second half, Rodgers got in a mini scuffle with senior center Matt Haryasz, who was pulled away from action, but it was that type of tenacity Arizona hasn’t exhibited during its road losing streak.

    Arizona used more full-court pressure than in recent games,

    especially with the team’s “”one-man full-court press,”” Rodgers, playing 20 minutes and collecting three steals. The Wildcats forced 15 turnovers and had 12 steals, after having only two against California, to enlarge their Pac-10 leading average of 9.8 steals per game.

    “”You put that man on top of anybody, and he puts fear in a lot of guys’ eyes,”” Adams said of Rodgers. “”That’s his personal theme. He’s a great defensive player, and he takes pride in it.””

    The Cardinal made a late surge, scoring eight straight points to cut the lead to 71-65, but junior point guard Mustafa Shakur snapped the spurt, taking and making his only shot of the game to build the lead to 71-65. A Hernandez 3-pointer cut the lead in half, but Arizona made its free throws down the stretch, hitting 5-of-6 to hold off the Cardinal.

    “”It was one of our best games (of the season). … I think this is a momentum builder for us,”” Olson said.

    Coming off of a season-low seven-point performance, Adams scored seven points in the first nine minutes. The Adams of old was back, taking the ball to the basket, hitting the offensive glass and keeping the fade-away jump shots to a minimum.

    Of his 14 first-half points, eight came off of layups and two from the free-throw line, each coming on a play where he drew the foul and made the basket. He would score nine more points in the second half, six on layups and one more on a free throw to go along with one jump shot.

    “”It was a big thing for me to sit down and find myself and relaxing, and going out there to have fun,”” Adams said. “”It was fun out there today, going back to doing what I’m used to.””

    With the win Arizona ranks fifth in the Pac-10, half a game behind Washington and Stanford for third place.

    “”If we didn’t win, I think our chances of playing in the tourney would be a little slim,”” Williams said.

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