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The Wildcats had a last shot at the win, but Salim Stoudamire’s leaner missed and Andre Iguodala’s tip attempt came up just a bit short.
Arizona missed two front ends of one-for-ones which allowed the Gators to stay in the game. Both Hassan Adams and Salim Stoudamire failed to convert at the charity stripe.
Colas’ lone bucket proved to be the difference. Hot shooting Matt Walsh drew the Wildcat defense away from the hoop which allowed Colas to sneak in and get the off balance bank shot.
Walsh was the story. The hot-shooting sophomore scored 27-points to lead all scorers. He was 5-8 from behind the arc, which was key in opening up the middle on the Gators’ game winning bucket.
Arizona’s already thin front line was depleted even more. Isaiah Fox was lost early on in the game to knee tendonitis, leaving just Channing Frye and Kirk Walters to man the middle. Frye gave the team a scare when he hit the floor hard following a hard foul. Frye was not out long, returning to the game follwing a television timeout.
Frye battled back after the fall. The junior had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Neither team looked sharp. The play was sloppy, with neither club being able to build upon their success. Both teams had defensive lapses, often letting players slip behind the defense for easy buckets. The teams combined for 31 turnovers and 35 personal fouls. Neither unit shot well with the Gators shooting 41% and Arizona struggling to make 38% of their shots.
Arizona shot especially poorly from three-point range, due in large part to Stoudamire’s struggles. The junior guard was just 5-19 from the field and a miserable 1-8 from behind the arc. As a team they were just 5-21 from three-point range, with Chris Rodgers making 3-of-5.
Both teams played poorly in the first half and as a result neither team amassed more than a six-point lead.
Channing Frye helped the Wildcats to an early lead. The Arizona center was 4-4 in the game’s first 5:00, beating the Florida big men down the court. His fourth bucket gave the Cats a 14-9 lead.
The two-teams battled back and forth. Florida tied the game with five straight only to have Arizona rattle off four in a row. Florida took the lead at the 6:30 mark with a Adrian Moss bucket.
Arizona responded to losing the lead by scoring nine of the next eleven points, but then surrendered five in a row, hanging on to a 32-31 lead at the intermission.
It was all Florida to start the second half. Mustafa Shakur opened the half with a reverse lay-in, but the Gators then scored 13 of the next 15 points. The Gators hit four straight three-pointers and in the process Mustafa Shakur picked up his fourth foul with just 2:20 gone by in the half. A Roberson three-pointer gave the Gators their largest lead of the evening, 46-38.
Foul trouble would be an issue down the stretch. Shakur eventually fouled out and both Adams and Iguodala found themselves saddled with four apiece.
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The Wildcats responded. Arizona proceeded to outscore the Gators 15-2. Getting a pair of athletic buckets by Adams and back-to-back threes by Chris Rodgers and Stoudamire.
After that Walsh went off. Following a thumb to the eye, the sophomore forward drained three straight three-pointers. His third put the Gators up 58-55.
As if on cue the Wildcats responded. Iguodala had struggled to this point, but then things started to click. He contributed a transition dunk and a pair of three-pointers to an 11-0 run that once again put Arizona up 64-58.
Florida clawed back, tying the game at 73 by outscoring the Wildcats 9-2, taking advantage of three Wildcats in foul trouble.