ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Salim Stoudamire wanted the ball and he
got it. He cleared out the floor with a wave of his hand and then
hit the shot that moved Arizona within one win of the Final Four.
Stoudamire sank an off-balance jumper from the left side with
2.8 seconds left, sending Arizona to a thrilling 79-78 victory over
Oklahoma State in the Chicago Regional semifinals Thursday night.
"I thrive on those situations. That's what I live for,"
Stoudamire said. "That's why I play basketball. Bigtime players
step up in bigtime situations, and I see myself as one of those
Oklahoma got a last chance at victory but John Lucas, who has
hit his share of big shots for the Cowboys, watched as his jumper
from the corner went off the rim at the buzzer.
"When I let it go, I thought it was going in. When it hit the
back of the rim, my heart just dropped. It's just a real sad moment
right now," Lucas said.
Arizona (30-6) will meet top-seeded Illinois on Saturday for a
trip to St. Louis. The Illini (35-1) defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee
"Any team that comes into this Chicago region knows that if
you're going to get to St. Louis, it's going to be by way of the
University of Illinois. We're happy to be in a situation where we
get a chance to play," Arizona coach Lute Olson said.
Olson is now 3-0 against Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, his
fellow 700-victory club member, but this was their first meeting
ever in the NCAA Tournament.
Sutton told Olson after the game he thinks the Wildcats can beat
Illinois. Later Sutton denied a report he was going to step down
after the loss and turn over the program to his son, Sean, with the
Cowboys losing so many key players.
"That's why I would not retire next year. ... I don't want to
leave Sean in that position. We take some hits next year, I want to
be the one who takes 'em," Sutton said.
Stoudamire scored 10 of his 19 points in the final 4:35 of the
game and the Wildcats shot 66 percent (31-of-47).
Scoreless in the second half until six minutes remained,
Stoudamire drove for a basket and then hit two NBA-range 3-pointers
to get Arizona within 76-75.
After a defensive stop, Arizona's Channing Frye hit a short
jumper, putting the Wildcats ahead 77-76 with a minute to go.
Joey Graham, who led Oklahoma State (26-7) with 26 points, then
drove to the middle, lowered his shoulder and dropped in a short
shot from the lane to give OSU its last lead at 78-77 with 18.8
After a timeout, Stoudamire waved his hand to clear out the
floor and then maneuvered past Daniel Bobik and popped in a jumper
from the left side, putting the Wildcats up 79-78 with 2.8 seconds
"I played some good defense on him and it could have gone
either way. He could have missed it and I could have been a hero,"
Stoudamire said, "I knew when it came down to crunch time I was
going to step up. I practice that shot everyday. Coach is always on
me about going hard, I guess it paid off."
Arizona had a foul to give, cutting the clock to 1.3 seconds,
but the Cowboys still managed to get off a decent shot.
Saddled with two early fouls, Stoudamire played just 10
first-half minutes, but when the game seemed to be slipping away,
he was there at the end.
Hassan Adams also finished with 19 points and had 10 rebounds
for Arizona, and Frye added 15 points and 10 boards.
Graham, who'd scored just 15 points total in his team's first
two tournament games, was a different player Thursday night, but it
still wasn't enough.
JamesOn Curry and Graham hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the
Cowboys overcame an early seven-point second-half deficit to lead
But the persistent Adams connected on his third 3-pointer and
then followed up his own miss on the second try to put the Wildcats
up 59-56, a lead that went to five when Frye hit a short jumper.
Graham hit a pair of 3-pointers and Stephen Graham made a
three-point to give the Cowboys a 69-65 lead.
Stoudamire drove for a basket and after a 3-pointer by Curry he
answered with one from NBA range, cutting the Cowboys lead to 72-70
with 3:57 left.
Adams scored 10 first-half points, took charge of the Wildcats'
offense with Stoudamire on the bench with two fouls and put Arizona
up at the break 41-38 by hitting a 3-pointer just before the
Arizona shot 70 percent in the first half, making 16 of 23 shots
and built an early 10-point lead.
"We take great pride in our defense," Sutton said. "Tonight,
they just shot lights out."
But with Stoudamire off the floor earlier, the Cowboys took off
on an 11-3 run, tying the game at 30-30 as Lucas and Ivan McFarlin
hit back-to-back three-point plays and then taking a lead on two
free throws by Graham.
Stoudamire, who had five 3-pointers and 28 points in
second-round victory over UAB, came out firing.
He hit a pair of long-range 3s, banked in another basket and
the Wildcats also got three field goals from Ivan Radenovic to jump
out 21-11 eight minutes into the game.
There were 10 lead changes in the fast-paced game. ...
Lucas made his first two shots, both 3-pointers early in the game,
and then missed five straight from long range. He finished 5-for-15
from the field. ... Arizona has made four trips to the Final Four
under Olson, the last time in 2001 when the Wildcats lost to Duke
in the finals. That year they beat Illinois 87-81 in the regional