West goes to seed: Louisville, Ariz. advance Wildcats show Va. that they also can win ugly, 71-58 NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 21, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The critics carping that Arizona was just another wimp from the West were silenced by the Wildcats' 71-58 pounding of Virginia yesterday.

Of the nine teams from western conferences in the NCAA tournament, Arizona was the only one to get past the first round, and the Wildcats are still alive thanks to the blue-collar number they did on the Cavaliers in the second round at the Arco Arena. Arizona, second-seeded in the West Regional, will meet Louisville in the third round Thursday in Los Angeles.

Ninth-ranked Arizona (27-5) had its worst shooting game in six weeks, but showed that Virginia didn't corner the market on winning ugly. The Wildcats did it with a 47-36 rebounding edge and defense, holding the Cavaliers scoreless for more than five minutes in the first half and seven in the second. Two days after Loyola made 27.9 percent of its shots against Arizona, Virginia (18-13) could muster only 31.1.

"We've been a strong defensive team all year long, and our players haven't been given the credit they deserve for that," said coach Lute Olson, standing on a new soapbox after the Wildcats had effectively ended the interrogation regarding their first-round failures of the past two years.

Some pages of the Wildcats' script remained the same, as the backcourt of Khalid Reeves and Damon Stoudamire had 30 and 20 points, respectively, against what was supposed to be a stiff challenge from Cornel Parker and Harold Deane.

A 41.0 percent shooter from three-point range, Reeves missed all five of his long-distance attempts. The resourceful native of New York could still pull up for short jumpers or take it all the way in. He had 13 free throws, more than twice as many as Virginia, which had season lows of six attempts and three made.

Parker, regarded by some as the best defender in the nation, stopped Grant Hill, Bob Sura and Donald Williams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He followed Reeves everywhere in the first half, but the space around Reeves grew when Parker got his second foul in the 16th minute and his third in the 21st.

A second-team All-American, Reeves scored 15 of the Wildcats' 19 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

"He came out in the second half more aggressive, and I was timid after I got my third foul," Parker said.

One pre-game report had Parker saying that Reeves was no Grant Hill.

"I don't know how he [Parker] can say that," Reeves had responded. "He hasn't played against me. I'm one of the top players in the country."

Arizona, the Pac-10 champion, got Virginia's respect when the Cavaliers had the ball, limiting the shot selection of a team that doesn't shoot well to begin with. Virginia's droughts allowed the Wildcats a 16-0 run in the first half and a 10-0 run in the second, when the Cavaliers missed 12 straight shots after they had come within 52-46 with 9:57 left.

Center Junior Burrough had 20 points, but he needed 22 shots to get them.

After Olson improved his NCAA tournament record against the ACC to 3-0, his counterpart was asked how much farther Arizona could go.

"They're capable of getting to Charlotte [for the Final Four], but they probably have to shoot better than they did today [43.6]," Virginia coach Jeff Jones said. "Everyone said coming in they had the best backcourt in the country, and you wouldn't get a whole lot of disagreement from us."

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