TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)—The 3-point line has been extended beyond 20 feet as an experiment in the Preseason NIT. That hardly mattered to Salim Stoudamire.
The left-handed senior sank 6-of-9 3-pointers and scored 24 points in 10th-ranked Arizona’s 83-66 second-round victory over Wright State on Thursday night.
“I felt good,” he said. “It was one of those games where it looked like a big, huge basket, and it was going in for me.”
The Wildcats (2-0) play Michigan in the semifinals next Wednesday in New York. Before that, Arizona plays at Virginia on Sunday.
Stoudamire, whose 3-point total was one shy of his career best, made six in a row after missing his first one. He was 5-of-6 from 3-point range and 6-of-7 overall for 17 points in the first half. That sixth basket would have been a ‘3’ under the usual college rule, but Stoudamire’s foot was on the new line.
The experimental 3-point distance is the one used in international basketball, 20 feet, 6 inches, compared to the college distance of 19-9.
Channing Frye had 13 points and Hassan Adams 10 for Arizona. Isaiah Fox, suspended from Tuesday’s opener for violating team rules, had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“It was obvious we were a little too big inside and a little too quick defensively for them to handle,” coach Lute Olson said. “It also helps when Salim shoots the ball like he shot it.”
The Wildcats led by as many as 22 in the first half and 35 in the second before the Raiders’ late run cut it to 15.
“They’re a great team,” Wood said, “but when we were down we never gave up.”
Zakee Boyd, suspended for Wright State’s 71-66 overtime victory over Tulsa on Tuesday night for playing in a summer league game, sank four straight 3s in the Raiders’ late surge. Boyd finished with a career-high 24 points. DaShaun Wood added 18 points, 16 in the second half for the Raiders (1-1).
Arizona won its 14th consecutive Preseason NIT game and is 14-1 in the event overall. The Wildcats won the tournament in their last three appearances— 1990, 1995 and 1999.
Arizona made 12 consecutive shots, five of them 3-pointers by Stoudamire, to turn the game into an early blowout. His final `3’ of the barrage put Arizona up 39-17 with 3:45 left in the half.
The lead reached 42-19 on Frye’s inside basket with 1:03 to play in the half. Arizona led 42-21 at the break.
Stoudamire held Wood—who scored 22 against Tulsa—to two points in the first half. Stoudamire also ran the Wildcats at point guard during most of a 22-6 outburst that put Arizona up 36-14 on Adams’ steal and layup with 4:15 to go.
“Defensively, he (Stoudamire) was the best player on the floor tonight,” Olson said. “He just did an unbelievable job on Wood in the first half. With Salim on him, he had a hard time getting anything. When we put him back in and Boyd had been knocking down those 3s, all of a sudden Boyd didn’t get a look again.”
The Wildcats outscored the Raiders 17-4 to start the second half to go up 59-25 on Mustafa Shakur’s dunk with 14:15 to play. But Boyd sank four consecutive 3s at the end of a 25-6 run that cut the lead to 65-50 with 6:56 to play.
Consecutive baskets and an assist by freshman Jawann McClellan made it 71-50, and Olson finished the game with reserves, giving good playing time to his four freshmen.
“We showed a great offensive effort in the second half,” Wright State coach Paul Bianfcardi said. “But at the same time we played against a great offensive team in Arizona. I wish we had played the first half more like the second. We have to mature and realize we need to play consistently.”
The tournament features two other experimental changes—an expanded foul lane and a half-circle beneath each basket, similar to the NBA, where players can’t draw offensive fouls.