No. 12 Arizona 88, USC 76
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The milestones keep on coming for Lute Olson.
Salim Stoudamire scored 16 of his 26 points in the first half, and No. 12 Arizona beat Southern California 88-76 on Thursday night to give the 70-year-old Wildcats coach two more significant achievements.
Olson became the second Pac-10 coach to win 300 conference games. The record-holder is John Wooden, who guided UCLA to a 304-74 league record before retiring in 1975. Olson’s teams are 300-86 against league opponents.
Olson can get his 301st conference win Saturday against the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion, where the 94-year-old Wooden is usually in attendance. Olson and Wooden are both members of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
By winning for the 17th time in 19 games, the Wildcats (20-4, 10-2 Pac-10) reached the 20-win plateau for the 18th straight season.
Olson’s teams have won 20 or more games in 27 of his 32 years as a college head coach, tying him with Texas Tech’s Bob Knight and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim for second in NCAA history.
“It means I’ve been able to keep my job a long time,” Olson said regarding reaching the 300-win plateau in conference action. “We’ve had a good team and great guys in the program.”
As far as his 18-season streak of 20 or more wins, Olson said: “When I first got there 22 years ago, I said I wanted to build a program, not a team.”
And he’s done just that. The game was Olson’s 700th at Arizona, where his teams have a 539-161 record in 22 years. He has an overall record of 731-253.
“I appreciate having Lute as my coach,” Stoudamire said. “He’s taught me so many things over the years. Only one other coach has gotten 300 (conference) wins, and that’s Coach Wooden. So that’s a great accomplishment.”
Stoudamire, a 6-foot-1 senior from Portland, Ore., shot 9-of-14 including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. He left the game for good with 5:48 remaining and the Wildcats leading 79-55.
“We came out strong at the beginning of the second half and put them away,” he said.
Channing Frye added 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots for Arizona. Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur scored 10 points each and Ivan Radenovic had nine points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats.
“It’s a great feat,” Frye said of Olson’s getting to 300 wins in the Pac-10. “But it’s not over yet. I think Coach O would like us to get that one on Saturday.”
As far as having Wooden watching him play in person, Frye said: “He’s probably the best basketball coach of all time. Any time you get to play in front of him, it’s an honor.”
Freshman Gabe Pruitt led USC (9-14, 2-10) with 21 points and five assists. Freshman Nick Young added 18 points, and Jeff McMillan and Lodrick Stewart scored 11 each for the Trojans, who lost their fifth straight.
“We got beat by a better team,” interim USC coach Jim Saia said. “Congratulations to Lute. He’s one of the giants of our game. He’s a mentor and someone you look up to.”
Saia said he believes Stoudamire is the best college shooter of all time, pointing to his exceptional shooting percentages. Stoudamire is shooting over 55 percent from 3-point range (73-of-132) and nearly 53 percent overall (132-of-249). He’s also shooting over 90 percent from the foul line (71-of-77).
“I don’t want to jinx the kid, but he’s absolutely phenomenal,” Saia said.
Stoudamire had to smile when informed of Saia’s remarks.
“I don’t think I’m the best shooter of all time,” he said. “I’ll take it, though.”
The Wildcats led at halftime 39-30, and blew the game open by outscoring the Trojans 24-9 for a 69-45 lead with 11:04 remaining. Stoudamire and Frye scored eight points each during the run.
A three-point play by Radenovic triggered a 10-0 run that gave the Wildcats a 12-4 lead, and they were on top the rest of the way.
Stoudamire outscored USC 11-0 by himself in a span of 80 seconds to make it 27-12. When freshman Jawann McClellan added a fast-break dunk, it prompted Arizona fans at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to chant: “U of A! U of A!” while USC followers sat silent.
The Trojans outscored Arizona 18-10 to finish the first half to draw within nine points. But USC would get no closer after halftime.
The Wildcats have won 23 of the last 28 games between the teams including a 77-68 triumph in Tucson last month. But they entered with a 4-5 record in their last nine games against USC at the Sports Arena.
“The only reason why it’s tough to play here is because there’s nobody here,” Stoudamire said. “It felt like a high school game, to tell you the truth.”
The announced attendance was 4,415.