TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The last time they played St. Mary's, two
seasons ago, the Arizona Wildcats won by 60 points. This one was
much, much closer.
Channing Frye scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the
second half and Arizona (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) escaped with an 84-78 victory over
the stubborn Gaels on Wednesday night.
"I don't want to say we underestimated them, but this is a
learning situation for us," Frye said. "This game was good for
Arizona (5-1) trailed 76-69 after Daniel Kickert's inside bank
shot with 3:03 to play, but outscored the Gaels 15-2 the rest of
Arizona never led in the second half until Salim Stoudamire
passed inside to Frye for a layup to put the Wildcats up 79-78 with
55 seconds remaining.
Early in the second half, coach Lute Olson benched Frye and gave
him a stern talking-to. Frye came out and dominated the game
offensively after that, going 7-of-11 from the field in the second
"I had to step up," Frye said. "I think Coach was challenging
me. He asked me if I even wanted to play out there because I was
being soft. I am sick of people saying that. I went out and stepped
up for my team."
Stoudamire scored six of his 16 points in the late run,
including a steal of an inbounds pass and layup that cut the lead
to 78-77 with 1:36 to play.
"What won it?" Stoudamire said. "Grit. You have to have grit
in these situations."
St. Mary's guard Tyler Herr was in McKale Center two seasons ago
when the Gaels were routed.
"Our mindset was the biggest thing that has changed since our
last game here," he said. "We are starting to understand that we
are good. We didn't have that before. We are a good team now."
Frye also had nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Hassan
Adams added 23 points and Andre Iguodala had 12 for the Wildcats.
Until the late run, Arizona lacked the intensity that carried it to
last week's victories over Texas and Marquette, both ranked teams.
"I just didn't think we played this as a big game like we did
against Marquette," Olson said. "We are very, very young, and
they have to understand that everybody we play it will be one of
the biggest games of the year for them."
The Gaels, who lost to Southern California in overtime earlier
this season, went on a 19-4 run late in the first half and early in
the second to go up 51-44 on Marigney's driving layup with 15:52 to
play. St. Mary's led 59-52 after Jonathan Sanders' rebound basket
with 11:39 left.
"We should have come out as if this was Marquette or Texas,"
Adams said. "We have to learn off this. This is a wake-up call."
Arizona tied it 62-62 when Adams capped a 10-3 spurt with a
breakaway stuff with 7:36 to play. But Herr hit two 3-pointers in a
12-3 outburst that put St. Mary's ahead 74-65 just 4:53 from the
The Wildcats went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in their final
run, including 4-of-4 by Stoudamire.
"You get frustrated," St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett said.
"You should have beat 'SC and you should have beat these guys, and
we are 0-2. Yes, I know Arizona is in finals (exams) but to control
the game, we had to play well, and we did."
The Gaels finished the first half with a 9-1 run to tie it at
41-41. Neither team scored in the last 2:08.
St. Mary's kept it going at the start of the second half,
outscoring Arizona 10-3 in the first 4:08.
Arizona's lone first-half spark was a 9-0 spurt that put the
Wildcats up 40-32 on Stoudamire's 3-pointer with 4:21 to play.
Marigney was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 13 points in
the first half for St. Mary's. Adams scored 14 points in the first
half for Arizona on 6-for-8 shooting.
Arizona hasn't dropped a nonconference game at home since losing
to Connecticut on Jan. 26, 2002.