Arizona fends off New Mexico State comebackNov 19, 2006 - 11:39 PM TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Arizona started fast and finished strong. In between, it was another matter.
Ivan Radenovic scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the 16th-ranked Wildcats survived a furious comeback in a 102-87 victory over New Mexico State.
Jawann McClellan scored 22 points, including 15 in the first half, as Arizona (2-1) used a 25-0 run to bolt to a 32-8 lead.
New Mexico State, which blew a 17-point lead in a 71-69 loss to Loyola Marymount on Friday night, almost came all the way back, pulling within five points, 87-82, with 3:45 left on back-to-back 3-pointers by Elijah Ingram and Ted Knauber.
Arizona kept its composure, though, and scored 15 of the final 20 points to pull away.
"What concerned me about this game was that NMSU was really quick with their pressure and we had to pass the ball quickly and properly," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "(They) hit some tough tough shots. Those were not easy shots and not many were uncontested."
The Aggies (1-2) made 13 3-pointers in the game and connected on 9-of-16 from the arc in the second half to rally from a 67-46 deficit with just over 14 minutes to play.
Arizona was even better, though, shooting 67 percent in the second half and 57 percent for the game (36-of-63).
The front line of Radenovic, Marcus Williams (20 points) and freshman sensation Chase Budinger (19) combined for 64 points and 26 rebounds to help the Wildcats to a 41-26 rebounding edge.
"The one thing I told our players is that Arizona plays full-throttle the whole game," New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus said. "You have to keep competing because you are never out of the game. If you stay with it, you can come back. I thought we showed a lot of character today."
A 3-pointer by Ingram had New Mexico State within striking distance at 92-85, but Budinger soared to follow up an airball and Mustafa Shakur hit four consecutive free throws to trigger an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 15 with 37 seconds to go.
"In the second half we played down to their level," Budinger said. "We got a big lead and thought we'd cruise by. We need to put teams away when we have a chance."
Arizona forged its big first-half lead behind the shooting of McClellan, who hit five 3-pointers in the first half and was 7-of-7 from the arc for the game.
"We need to do a better job of putting teams away at the end," McClellan said. "New Mexico State is ... a great squad that's probably favored to win their conference. My goal was to get on the offensive and defensive glass today."
Fred Peete scored 18 points to lead six players in double figures for New Mexico State, which shot 49 percent (34-of-70).
"Rebounding and making our shots helped," Peete said. "In the first half we weren't making our shots but then we started penetrating and kicking it out for threes. It was the same thing they had done to us."
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