Jeff Eisenberg

Arizona gives grieving Tucson something to smile about

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Arizona felt pressure to beat Stanford on Sunday for more than just keeping pace with first-place Washington in the Pac-10 race.

Playing the day after a horrific mass shooting in front a Tucson grocery story claimed six lives and wounded 14 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Wildcats viewed this game as a chance to give their grieving city an emotional lift. They did their part, emerging with a hard-fought 67-57 victory over the Cardinal.

"Hopefully in some small way today's game had a healing effect on our community where all of us can take our minds off of something for a brief moment and be together for a different purposes," Arizona coach Sean Miller told reporters after the game. "We came here to play hard today and in a sense play for Tucson. Thank you to the crowd for being here in full force and hopefully we reciprocated in some fashion by getting a hard-earned win today."

Arizona and Stanford were initially scheduled to play on Saturday afternoon, but credit both schools for understanding that the Tucson community needed a day to grieve before it could begin to heal.

University president Robert Shelton spoke prior to the game, thanking Stanford for its flexibility and praising first-responders who saved lives at the scene of the shooting and hospital staffers who treated the injured. A moment of silence at the McKale Center followed Shelton's brief address.

Arizona players emerged from the locker room wearing a black ribbon on their jerseys in honor of the victims. Senior Jamelle Horne had 16 points and 12 rebounds and star Derrick Williams added 14 and 9 as the Wildcats built a 15-point lead midway through the second half and hung on even after Stanford trimmed it to five with just under four minutes to play.

"The fans really needed something positive from what happened" Saturday, guard Kyle Fogg told the Arizona Daily Star. "For me, it was a little more inspiration to go out there and play as hard as I can to help get the fans the win.


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