2001 NCAA Men's Tourney

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NCAA Basketball Scoreboard: Recap
Recap | Box Score | Today's Scoreboard
Arizona 73, Butler 52
Posted: Sunday March 18, 2001 07:25 PM
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KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- So far, the big winner in the NCAA Tournament is the Pac-10 Conference.

Arizona overcame a sluggish start with one of its best defensive efforts of the season and became the fourth Pac-10 team to reach the "Sweet 16" with a 73-52 victory over Butler in a Midwest Region second-round game at Kemper Arena.

"This one means a lot to us as a team," Arizona forward Luke Walton said. "It's been a tough year for us and coach (Lute Olson) this year. We didn't start off the season too well and we began to question ourselves and what was going on. I've never been to the Sweet 16, so I'm looking forward to it just as much as the other players are." Pac-10 teams are 8-1 in the tournament, with Stanford, UCLA and Southern California also advancing to the regional semifinals. The only conference team to lose so far is California, which fell to Fresno State in the first round.

It marks the first time four teams from one conference have reached the round of 16 since 1998, when the Pac-10 also accomplished the feat with Stanford, Arizona, UCLA and Washington.

The Wildcats will face Mississippi on Friday in San Antonio in the Midwest Region semifinals. The Rebels advanced with a 59-56 victory over Notre Dame.

"There is no doubt this game was won on the defensive side of the court," Olson said. "Obviously, our talent level is great. But talent by itself is not going to work." Arizona (25-7) trailed for most the first half against Butler (24-8), but rallied for a 30-26 halftime lead and put away the contest with a 15-0 run midway through the second half. The Wildcats led by as many as 22.

Arizona beat Butler for the second time this season after posting a 72-60 victory in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic on December 28, although the Wildcats led by four with just 1:35 remaining.

"We knew Butler was a very good team and a very intense team," Olson said. "We knew we could not just come out and play 10 seconds of defense and then take a break. We knew we had to come out and stop them defensively and when we do that, it helps us offensively." Gilbert Arenas scored 15 points and Michael Wright added 14 for the Wildcats, who avoided losing in the second round for the second year and reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 1998. They will take on Notre Dame or Mississippi on Friday in San Antonio.

"We came here to win," Wright said. "In the first half, we were not worried at all. We had to step it up and we began to wear them down in the second half." "We played with more poise in the second half," Walton added. "We kept them from reversing the ball and once we stopped them from moving the ball, we were fine. We are happy, but we have to keep moving and take it game by game." Coming off a 79-63 first-round victory over Wake Forest, the Bulldogs rode the hot-shooting first half of LaVall Jordan, who made five of his seven shots and finished with 17 points.

Darnell Archey's 3-pointer gave Butler a 22-15 lead with 6:58 remaining, but Arizona, which scored 101 points in its first-round victory over Eastern Illinois, turned up the defensive pressure.

With Butler leading 24-19, Jason Gardner hit a 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining to ignite Arizona's 11-2 run that ended the first half. Arenas' short jumper gave the Wildcats the lead for good, 28-26, with 1:22 left before Wright made two foul shots to make it 30-26 at the half.

"We just ran out of gas," Butler coach Thad Matta said. "We had good looks at the basket. They did exactly what we thought they'd do. They really stepped up their defense. We were trying to keep them off the glass, but they are so big and well-coached." Butler had one of the most dominant halves in NCAA Tournament history against Wake Forest, building an amazing 43-10 halftime lead. But in the second half against Arizona, the Bulldogs got a taste of their own medicine.

After closing to 43-36 on Scott Robisch's jumper with 13:39 remaining, Butler went scoreless for nearly seven minutes and had only 10 points in the second half with just over seven minutes left.

"We couldn't put the ball in the hole," Butler guard Brandon Miller said. "I've never seen a team play such good defense. Arizona is big and talented and we got beat by a very good team. I don't see anybody beating them." Richard Jefferson's two free throws gave Arizona a 58-36 lead before Miller's jumper with 6:51 remaining finally ended Butler's drought.

The Wildcats shot 51 percent (26-of-51) from the field while holding Butler to 39 percent (21-of-54). Arizona dominated the boards -- outrebounding Butler, 39-20, -- and also featured a balanced attack as Gardner and Woods added 12 points apiece.


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