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Arizona Stays Ahead of the Pac

February 09, 2003|From Associated Press

Arizona knew a victory would most likely send it back to No. 1. That pressure might have been responsible for the Wildcats' poor start against lowly Washington State on Saturday night at Pullman, Wash.

"It was in the back of our heads and all the guys knew it," said Jason Gardner, who scored 19 points to lead the second-ranked Wildcats to a 75-62 victory. "That's why we were struggling. We were playing not to lose."

Because No. 1 Florida lost to Kentucky on Tuesday, Arizona (18-2, 10-1 Pacific 10) is expected to become No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the third time this season. The Wildcats were the preseason No. 1 and dropped after losses to Louisiana State and Stanford.

Washington State (5-15, 0-11) put up a fight before losing to Arizona for the 36th consecutive time dating to January 1986.

The Cougars tied the score at 54 on Jerry McNair's three-point basket with 7:12 left. But Arizona went on a 13-2 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to pull away.

The Wildcats' 17-year winning streak against the Cougars is the longest currently in the Pac-10.

Washington State has lost 37 consecutive games to ranked opponents, dating to 1997. The Cougars are 1-63 against top-five teams dating to 1980. The Cougars have lost 11 in a row and 18 in a row in Pac-10 play dating to last season.

Arizona, which escaped with an overtime win Thursday at Washington, swept the Washington schools for the fourth consecutive season.

"People think the Washington trip is real easy, but nothing is easy in the Pac-10," said Arizona's Channing Frye, who had 15 points.

California 86, Oregon 75 -- Joe Shipp had 23 points as the Golden Bears rebounded from an eight-point first-half deficit and won at Eugene, Ore.

Brian Wethers added 21 points and Amit Tamir had 18 for California (16-4, 9-2), which handed Oregon (16-6, 6-5) only its second loss at McArthur Court over the past two seasons. The Ducks lost at home to Arizona on June 2.

Oregon, coming off a 79-64 victory over No. 25 Stanford, was stymied by Cal's defense and had trouble making shots after holding a narrow 36-34 advantage at the half.

Luke Ridnour had 19 points and seven assists for the Ducks.

Cal is off to its best Pac-10 start since 1993-94, when the Bears also went 9-2.

Arizona State 79, Washington 77 -- Shawn Redhage scored eight of his career-high 29 points in overtime at Seattle as the Sun Devils held off the Huskies.

The Sun Devils (15-7, 7-4 Pac-10) led by five points with under a minute to play in regulation but missed five of six free-throw attempts -- including two by Redhage -- in the final 32.7 seconds to open the door for Washington.

The Huskies (3-8, 8-12) had the ball for the final 10 seconds of the game but failed to take a shot.

Redhage scored the first five points of overtime as Arizona State jumped to a 72-67 lead, but Will Conroy made two three-point baskets as Washington answered with an 8-0 run.

Arizona State then finished with a 7-2 surge.

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