BOISE, Idaho (Ticker) -- Utah State frustrated Arizona and its stars Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye in the first half. Arizona turned the tables after the break.
Frye scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Stoudamire added 12 of 17 after intermission as the third-seeded Wildcats posted a 66-53 victory over the 14th-seeded Aggies in the first round of the Albuquerque Region.
"In the first half I don't think I was aggressive enough or determined enough to get myself open," Frye said. "I took it upon myself to create an inside presence, and that opened up shots for Jawann (McClellan) and Salim."
Arizona (28-6), which overcame a sluggish first half, will play Alabama-Birmingham in the second round on Saturday.
Utah State (24-8) controlled the pace of the game and held Stoudamire and Frye scoreless for the last 10 minutes of the first half en route to a 29-26 lead.
"At halftime of the game, I thought we had the tempo up where we needed to have it," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "We had a chance to compete in the game and we played pretty well. Second half, Arizona overwhelmed us with their athleticism and their quickness. We missed some open shots but I thought they really turned the defense up."
Along with its increased pressure, the Wildcats got the ball to Frye inside. The Aggies scored on just one of their first 11 possessions after intermission and the Wildcats got seven points from Frye and five from Stoudamire to open a 42-31 margin with 12:44 left.
"Part of it was we just said, 'no more outside shots until Channing has touched the ball,'" Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "You're going to get better shots on the outside if you get the ball inside because Channing is so much of a threat inside that they've got to help. And when they help, we're going to get opportunities."
The Aggies, who came into the game shooting a national-best 53.1 percent, shot 27 percent (8-of-30) in the second half and 36 percent (20-of-55) for the game.
"(Utah State) is one of the top shooting teams in the country, if not the top shooting team," Olson said. "In the second half they shot 25 percent and a lot of that had to do with the pressure on the ball and it certainly helps having Channing in the middle challenging anything they have to get in the lane."
Utah State scored the next eight points on a pair of 3-pointers from Jaycee Carroll and two free throws by Spencer Nelson before Chris Rodgers hit a 3-pointer, Frye made a couple of free throws and Stoudamire knocked down a 3-point dagger to push the lead back to 50-39 with 8 1/2 minutes left. Fry's dunk four minutes later provided a 58-43 bulge.
Frye, who took only four shots in the first half, finished 5-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the line - all in the second half. He added 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Carroll had five 3-pointers and 18 points to lead Utah State, but Nelson, who was battling the flu, was held to six points on 1-of-7 shooting and two rebounds in his final collegiate game. Nelson came into the contest averaging over 16 points and eight rebounds.
"He had a real tough battle with it in December," said Morrill about Nelson's sickness. "He then had it stabilize, but I have never seen him okay with it. He was as bad as I have ever seen. We didn't practice Monday, tried to rest our legs. On Tuesday, he couldn't go at all.
"He's had such a wonderful career. He said he was going to give everything he had to the end, but he just didn't have much."
Rodgers, who finished with 10 points, made a 3-pointer and Mustafa Shakur hit a long jumper to give Arizona a 20-17 lead with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half. The Wildcats held that advantage for the next three minutes before the Aggies closed the half on an 8-2 run.
Stoudamire, who made seven 3-pointers and tied his career high with 37 points in the Pac-10 Conference final loss to Washington on Saturday night, was just 3-of-9 from the arc and turned the ball over four times.
"It was a great experience to be able to run around with and chase and guard a guy with that kind of quickness and that kind of athleticism," Carroll said of Stoudamire. "It was just a great opportunity for me, a great experience and I'm tired, I'm worn out."
Hassan Adams added 10 points and Shakur handed out seven assists for the Wildcats, who lost in the first round to Seton Hall last year.
Nate Harris scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting for Utah State, which dropped to 6-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and was seeking its first win since it knocked off Ohio State as a 12th seed in 2001.