Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No. 19 Ranking Appears a Little Low for Arizona

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No. 19 Ranking Appears a Little Low for Arizona

Article excerpt

It had been a long time in the Lute Olson era since Arizona's basketball team entered a season ranked so low and given so little respect - something off which the Wildcats actually fed.

But they can't hide anymore, not after taking apart much-heralded 7-foot center Bryant "Big Country" Reeves and eighth-ranked Oklahoma State 97-84 Sunday in the Dial Invitational at America West Arena before a partisan crowd of 9,817.

Nobody doubted Arizona's explosive backcourt of Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves. The question was the inside game.

Sixth-man Joseph Blair, a 6-foot-9 sophomore center, made a statement Sunday, helping to shut down Bryant Reeves and having no problem scoring over him.

"I was aware he was there, but I didn't take it as a big threat," Blair said. "I didn't feel I had to change my game at all. I just had to pick it up a bit. I'm not going to loft my shots or anything because of him."

No, Blair simply slammed the ball through in Reeves' face three times. In 20 minutes, Blair finished with 14 points on five-of-eight shooting and had eight rebounds.

OSU's Reeves, who entered the game averaging 28 points, 12 rebounds and shooting 70 percent, was held to a season-low 12 points, six rebounds and made five of 11 shots.

"Big Country" must have felt as if he had walked into a beehive every time he got into position in the low post. The 19th-ranked Wildcats (3-0) swarmed him, hitting him from every angle. Their superior quickness didn't allow Reeves to handle the ball much in the first half, and forced the Cowboys (4-1) into 13 turnovers.

"We worked the last three days on shutting (Reeves) down," Blair said. "I know everyone on this team can tell you all the plays we had for him.

"It frustrated him. I know a lot of times Brooks Thompson would yell at him, trying to get him fired up."

Arizona's quickness and depth took a toll on the Cowboys, whose bench was outscored 26-12 by the Wildcats'.

Oklahoma State made 10 turnovers to Arizona's two in the first 13 minutes, when the Wildcats built a 17-point lead.

"When you play a good team, you want to minimize your mistakes," Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. …

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