TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Chris Rodgers knows his role for Arizona.
He's no starter, he's the energizer.
Rodgers filled that role and more, scoring a career-high 22
points, seven during a decisive second-half surge, and the Wildcats (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) kept Southern California winless in the Pac-10
with a 77-68 victory Thursday night.
Salim Stoudamire had 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point
range for the Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 Pac-10), who rebounded from a
87-76 loss at California. Hassan Adams added 15 points, and
Channing Frye had 12.
"I don't try to focus on scoring points," Rodgers said. "I
just want to give my energy, and show some passion for the game,
and whatever happens scoring, just happens."
With playmaker Mustafa Shakur ineffective, Rodgers played 33
minutes, sinking eight of 15 shots with a team-high four assists.
"Chris Rodgers gave us a big lift," coach Lute Olson said.
"I've been telling him it's not about whether you start, it's
whether you finish."
Rodgers was on the court when the game ended.
Olson said he talked to Stoudamire on Wednesday and told him not
to be quite so unselfish.
"I want you to shoot the ball," Olson said he told the senior.
"You're the best shooter in the country."
Olson pointed to an NBA-range 3-pointer that Stoudamire hit.
"You saw the one that was about 8 feet outside the 3-point
line," Olson said. "That shot's fine with me because he drains
that in a practice situation, too."
"I'm not into moral victories, but I was glad to see this team
never stopped competing," interim coach Jim Saia said. "But we
just didn't stay poised enough to win in this type of
The Trojans found out earlier in the day that they had a coach
for next season. Tim Floyd is to be introduced at a news conference
in Los Angeles on Friday.
Henry Bibby was fired Dec. 6, four games into the season, and
replaced by Saia on an interim basis. Rick Majerus took the job for
five days, then changed his mind and resigned for health reasons.
Arizona led most of the game but never by more than 12 points.
"We just don't have that killer instinct," Olson said.
The Wildcats went nearly 5 minutes without a point early in the
second half, while USC scored six to cut the lead to 52-49 after
Rory O'Neil's inside basket with 11:49 to go. Rodgers ended the
drought with a layup, then Stoudemire slammed one home one-handed
on a fast break and sank a 3-pointer in a 7-0 Arizona spurt that
boosted the lead to 59-49 with 9:01 left.
USC cut it to 64-60 on consecutive inside baskets, the second
one a stuff, by McMillan. Arizona responded with an 8-0 run, the
last seven by Rodgers, to take its biggest lead of the night,
72-60, with 3:25 remaining.
The Trojans took a 33-31 lead on Pruitt's four-point play with
3:24 to go. Pruitt sank the 3-pointer and was fouled by Frye, then
made the free throw.
Rodgers' 3-pointer put Arizona back up for good, 34-33, and he
made another with 38 seconds to go to put the Wildcats ahead 42-38
at the half.
Arizona made it a 9-0 run by scoring the first six points of the
second half, taking a 48-38 on Adams' baseline jumper with 18:09
Sophomore Kirk Walter entered the game in the first half, his
first appearance of the season. Olson had intended to sit Walter
out as a redshirt this season.
Olson said the staff decided to play Walter because he has been
the second-most consistent big man in practice, behind Frye.
USC shot 57 percent in the first half, compared with 44 percent
for Arizona. The Wildcats, though, were 6-for-13 on 3-pointers in
the first 20 minutes, including 4-for-6 by Stoudamire.
Young scored 14 in the first half on 7-for-10 shooting.