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Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2003 11:57 PM EST
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(1) Arizona 72, (19) Stanford 69
Arizona Wildcats
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PALO ALTO, California (Ticker) -- Big things are expected from Arizona this season. The Wildcats have taken the first step.

Salim Stoudamire scored 18 points, including a key jumper with 44 seconds left, as the top-ranked Wildcats clinched their 10th Pac-10 Conference regular-season title with a 72-69 victory over No. 19 Stanford.

Arizona (23-2, 15-1 Pac-10) entered the season as the favorite to win the national title - and the Pac-10 crown along the way. The Wildcats became the third team to finish unbeaten on the road in conference play, joining Oregon State in 1980-81 and Stanford in 2000-01.

"This was an all too typical game with Stanford," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "The game always seems to go down to the final possession. We are pleased to have won the Pac-10 title."

"It's just one step to our ultimate goal, the championship." Stoudamire said.

Stoudamire's jumper opened a 70-67 advantage and he added a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left. Stanford (22-7, 13-4) countered with a layup by Rob Little and got a chance to tie after the Wildcats' Rick Anderson missed a 1-and-1 opportunity seven seconds later.

The Cardinal set up for a tying 3-pointer, but Josh Childress missed. Nick Robinson rebounded in the lane for Stanford and kicked it out to Julius Barnes, who missed a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired on the rebound.

"This was a tremendous challenge and this is something we'll build on," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "Our team has a lot of heart."

The Wildcats won their eighth straight and avenged an 82-77 home loss to Stanford on January 30. Arizona has won 10 consecutive road games.

"This feels so good," Arizona center Channing Frye said. "We thought the coaches deserved this and we worked really hard in practice. I felt that we owe it to ourselves. We worked so hard during the course of the year and we've been through so many things from people leaving to people saying we're not really number one. I felt this really solidifies us."

Jason Gardner scored 12 points and Anderson added 11 for Arizona, which appears to be steamrolling its way to the No. 1 seed in the West Region. Luke Walton added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"One of the differences was the play of Arizona's seniors," Montgomery said. "Luke Walton, Jason Gardner and Rick Anderson cause people problems."

Stanford had a six-game winning streak snapped as well as a nine-game home streak. Childress collected 20 points and 10 rebounds and Justin Davis added 12 and 11.

"Josh Childress was tough for Stanford, but he's tough with everybody," Olson said. "Stanford is good every year."

The Cardinal's perimeter attack was stifled as the team connected on just 4-of-22 attempts from beyond the arc. Stanford made nine 3-pointers in its win over Arizona. Matt Lottich, who scored 23 points in the first meeting, managed just seven on 2-of-11 shooting.

"People don't give Arizona's defense enough credit," Montgomery said. "We struggled to get baskets. We missed some shots."

Barnes, who averaged 28 points in his last two games, had a rough night and made just 3-of-13 shots for 10 points. The Cardinal shot just 35 percent (23-of-65).

"We played good defense and we made it difficult to get shots," Olson said.

Stanford also hurt itself at the foul line, shooting only 68 percent (19-of-28). Davis was the primary offender, converting 4-of-10.

A tight first half saw Arizona emerge with a 33-30 halftime advantage after Anderson's 3-pointer with three seconds left. Anderson and Stoudamire opened the second half with baskets to extend to a seven-point lead.

A layup by Robinson pulled Stanford into a 49-49 tie with just under 13 minutes remaining. The Wildcats scored seven straight points to snap a 53-53 tie and take the lead for good.

"We hit big shots when we needed them, our defense was pretty solid the whole game," Walton said. "They got a couple of good looks on us but I think it was a little of everything that won it for us today."

Stanford closed within one point on several occasions, but Arizona never gave up the lead. The final time came on Robinson's basket that made it 66-65 with three minutes left to play and the Cardinal had a chance to take the lead, but Childress misfired on a 3-pointer.

The Wildcats have won four straight games at Maples Pavilion and the visiting team has won the last six games in the series.

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