for this game

Budinger, Arizona hold off pesky Louisville

Dec 6, 2006 - 5:37 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Chase Budinger learned that college teams generally don't fade away without a fight.

Budinger scored seven of his 17 points in the second half as No. 15 Arizona struggled with a big lead before holding on for a 72-65 victory over Louisville in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic.

One of the top freshmen in the nation, Budinger stepped up with a pair of big shots down the stretch to continue the outstanding success for the Wildcats (6-1) at Madison Square Garden.

Although the "World's Most Famous Arena" is located a couple of thousand miles away from Tucson, Arizona has won 11 of its last 12 contests here and 12 of 17 all-time.

"Our guys love the environment and they love the enthusiasm," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "Our guys really were given great support by the crowd and some of it had to do with some of the way our guys play. Our guys like playing here. Every kid dreams of playing in Madison Square Garden."

Much of the credit for the latest victory can go to the 6-7 Budinger, who appeared determined in the clutch even though his team struggled to hold a number of leads.

"I was asked before the game by a number of media people, how Chase would respond to being in this place as a freshman," Olson said. "I said, 'I don't think I've ever seen Chase get excited by anything.' So I thought he played just like he played.

"He's a tremendous young man that wants to get better and will get better because of that."

Behind a 20-2 spurt, the Wildcats held a 41-26 advantage with 5:44 left in the first half. However, Arizona struggled shooting after the break, allowing Louisville to cut the lead to 60-56 on a layup by Terrence Williams with 6:19 remaining.

The team's leading scorer at 19.8 points per game entering, Budinger hit a layup 36 seconds later after an offensive rebound by Jawann McClellan.

"A game like today, we came out, we came out big," Budinger said. "They started coming back; in the second half we were in a little streak where we couldn't make a basket. We couldn't put the ball in the hoop. It was just one of those games where we had to grind it out."

Williams, who finished with 13 points, came back with an explosive dunk from the baseline, but the Wildcats pieced together a 7-0 run to pull ahead, 69-58, with 2:33 to play. Budinger sank a baseline jumper and split two free throws to cap the burst.

"I just think as a team, we just banded together and we said, 'We had to dig out defensively and I think we did that,'" Budinger said. "When we did that, we started getting to the line more. We started attacking the basket and when we did that we started getting easy buckets and free throws."

Louisville (2-2) closed within four points with just over a minute left, but Arizona's Mustafa Shakur and McClellan combined to go 3-of-4 from the stripe.

Ivan Radenovic had 22 points and 13 rebounds and McClellan scored 17 for the Wildcats, who won despite shooting 19 percent (5-of-27) in the second half.

Juan Palacios scored 15 points for the Cardinals, who held a 47-36 advantage on the boards.

"We are just starting to get healthy," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I see great potential in this basketball team and if we continue to grow, we are going to be an outstanding basketball team. I am not happy with the loss but I am happy with our potential."

Managing to cut its big first-half deficit to nine points at 44-35 at the half, Louisville eventually went on to take the lead as Arizona made just one of its 19 shots from the field.

Palacios hit a jumper to cut the deficit to 49-48 with 14:20 to go and Williams gave the Cardinals a one-point advantage with a layup just over a minute later.

Despite still struggling from the field, the Wildcats pulled back ahead, 51-50, on two free throws by Radenovic with 10:27 remaining. After a steal by Daniel Dillon, Arizona missed two more attempts from the field before the Cardinals came up empty on their next possession.

Shakur finally snapped the drought on a 3-pointer with 9:37 to play, marking the Wildcats' first basket in nearly 10 minutes.

Bret Brielmaier sank two free throws and, following a dunk by Louisville's David Padgett, Radenovic sank two free throws and hit a jumper to make it 60-54 with 7:09 remaining.

    --- --- -----
    LOUISVILLE 35 30 65
    ARIZONA (15) 44 28 72 FINAL

    Dec 5 11:59 PM


    Dec 5 10:44 PM