ROSEMONT, Illinois -- Good things come in
Salim Stoudamire's pullup 15-foot jumper from the left wing with
2.8 seconds remaining lifted third-seeded Arizona to a 79-78
victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the
It was Stoudamire's third game-winning shot of the season. He
beat Arizona State with a 14-foot jumper with sixth-tenths of a
second left on March 5 and UCLA with a 3-pointer with 2.5
seconds remaining on January 15.
"Salim is a great pressure player," Arizona coach Lute Olson
said. "He's about perfect when its down to the last shot."
With the game on the line, Arizona went to its senior stars,
Stoudamire and Channing Frye, who combined to score the last 15
Wildcats' points. Frye gave Arizona a 77-76 lead on a short
jumper with about 1 1/2 minutes to play, but Oklahoma State's
Joey Graham scored on a drive with 20 seconds left to set the
stage for Stoudamire.
Arizona set up a pick-and-roll with Stoudamire and Frye, but
Stoudamire opted to go away from the screen, took a few hard
dribbles to his left and pulled up over Oklahoma State's Daniel
Bobik for the game-winner.
"I didn't want Channing to come out because I knew they were
going to double me, so I just took it the other way, took a few
dribbles and pulled up for a jump shot." Stoudamire said.
"We knew Stoudamire was going to get the ball," Oklahoma forward
Joey Graham said. "All we could do was get some hands on him,
and contest the shot. He hit a tough shot."
After Stoudamire's dagger, Oklahoma State called a timeout. The
Cowboys inbounded to half court where a foul was called with 1.3
seconds left. Since the Cowboys weren't shooting in the
1-and-1, they inbounded from half court to John Lucas, who took
a long 3-pointer from the left corner that bounced off the back
of the rim.
"The play was set up for me to go off the top, and when I let it
go I thought it was going in," Lucas said. "But when it hit the
back of the rim my heart just dropped because it's my last game
so it's a sad moment right now."
The Wildcats (30-6) will play the top-seeded Fighting Illini on
Saturday for the right to advance to St. Louis and their first
Final Four since 2001. In that year, Arizona knocked off
Illinois, 87-81, in the finals of the Midwest Region.
"Our guys have been hoping to get a chance against (Illinois),"
Olson said. "We know how good Illinois is, but we have been
hoping. It's going to be a heck of a game - a pretty evenly
Stoudamire finished with 19 points, including 11 in the last six
minutes when he made four consecutive shots, and picked a good
time to get hot. Relegated to the bench for eight minutes in
first half because of two fouls, the lefthanded sharpshooter
hadn't scored since the 13 1/2-minute mark of the first half.
"I couldn't be aggressive because I didn't want to pick up my
third foul, but I knew my teammates would pick up the slack,"
Hassan Adams added 19 and 10 rebounds and Frye chipped in 15 and
10 for the Wildcats, who shot 66 percent (31-of-47).
"We take great pride in our defense, and tonight they just shots
light out," Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. "I think that they
have a great chance to beat Illinois. I'll be surprised if they
don't play a great game against them. They shot the ball really
well tonight and our defense wasn't as good as it has been at
"It was a great college basketball game. It's a shame that
somebody had to lose."
Graham, who scored just 15 points in the first two games,
carried the Cowboys (26-7) in the second half with 17 of his 26.
He hit back-to-back 3-pointers that provided Oklahoma State a
74-72 lead with seven minutes to play.
"Our team had our backs against the wall, and somebody had to do
something," Graham said. "So I just tried to find a mismatch. I
thought if I could get to the basket they were going to foul me
everytime. I just tried to be aggressive."
"If Joey didn't step up, we wouldn't have been in the game,"
Lucas said. "I just enjoy playing with him. He just stayed
patient. He let the game come to him."
Ivan McFarlin added 15 and Lucas 13 for the Cowboys, who shot 45
Lucas, who hit consecutive 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds of
the game, made just 3-of-13 thereafter.
The game matched two of the greatest coaches of all time. Olson
picked up his 741st career win and 45th in the NCAA Tournament.
Sutton, looking for his eighth trip to the regional finals, has
781 career wins and 39 in the tournament - the most wins in
tournament history without winning an NCAA title.
Behind eight points, including two 3-pointers by Stoudamire,
Arizona jumped to a 21-11 lead with 12 minutes to play in the
first half. But with Stoudamire on the bench, Oklahoma State
A 12-2 run that included five points by McFarlin put the Cowboys
ahead, 32-30, with five minutes left. The clubs battled evenly
thereafter and Adams' 3-pointer as time expired provided the
Wildcats a 41-38 lead at intermission. Arizona shot 69 percent
(16-of-23) in the first half.