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NCAA Men's Basketball Scoreboard: Recap
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Arizona 81, USC 71
Posted: Saturday March 09, 2002 09:44 PM
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LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Twelve years later, Arizona still dominates the Pac-10 Conference tournament.

Freshman Salim Stoudamire scored a season-high 29 points as the 14th-ranked Wildcats rallied in the second half to claim the Pac-10 title with an 81-71 victory over No. 20 Southern California.

Arizona (22-9) won the tournament, which was resurrected after an 11-year hiatus. The Wildcats have won the last four tournament titles, including three in a row from 1988-1990.

USC (22-9) dominated the first half and built a 39-31 lead. But the Wildcats turned things around with a 19-4 spurt to start the second half and never looked back.

"We are a very, very good basketball basketball team," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "But tonight we played a very good basketball team. They were very aggressive." Luke Walton's basket capped the run and gave Arizona a 50-43 lead with 13:43 remaining.

The Trojans pulled within two points before Jason Gardner answered with consecutive 3-pointers for a 67-59 cushion with 4 1/2 minutes to go.

Walton finished with 23 points and seven assists and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Stoudamire and Gardner joined him on the all-tournament team.

"Luke is just a tremendous competitor," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "He's also a guy who has a tremendous feel for the game. Like I've always said, he has a talent and reactions that you can't teach; it's in his genes." Rick Anderson scored 12 points and Gardner finished with 11 for Arizona, which was not expected to contend for the conference title after losing four starters to the professional ranks. Gardner was the Wildcats' lone returning starter.

Olson improved to 32-10 lifetime against USC. He voiced his opposition to the conference tournament before the event, and the championship did not change his mind.

"I'm still not in favor," he said. "It doesn't change things. If we think about the student-athletes and not the money, then we wouldn't have this." David Bluthenthal scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead USC, which lost two of three meetings with Arizona this season.

Desmon Farmer scored 15 points and Brandon Granville added 13 for USC, which was shredded for 50 points in the second half. Sam Clancy had just 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

"I felt good coming into the game," Clancy said. "After the game, it hit me. Hopefully, we'll get a little rest before the (NCAA) Tournament." The Trojans' frustration boiled over with 90 seconds left when Bibby was whistled for a technical foul by referee Charles Range.

"It was the fact that Mr. Bibby kept berating me," Range said. "It was unprofessional. The things he was saying were unnecessary. Each coach is responsible for his conduct in each incident that may arise, and he went over the line." Bibby had a different version.

"I don't think a technical foul was warranted at the time," he said. "I don't go out and abuse and curse at the officials." USC was making its first appearance in the Pac-10 title game.

 


 
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