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Arizona Advances To NIT Championship With Win Over Notre Dame

NEW YORK (AP) - No. 8 Arizona got 22 points and 11 rebounds from Michael Wright and wore down Notre Dame 76-60 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (3-0) play the winner of Wednesday night's second game between No. 11 Kentucky and No. 24 Maryland in the tournament's championship game Friday night.

Freshmen guards Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner directed the Arizona attack flawlessly and 7-foot-1 Loren Woods swatted away seven shots and grabbed 10 rebounds, sending Notre Dame (3-1) to its first loss under new coach Matt Doherty. Troy Murphy led Notre Dame with 22 points and David Graves had 17.

The Irish had stunned Ohio State, an NCAA Final Four team last March, in the NIT opener but the Irish never really got started against Arizona.

The Wildcats led from start to finish, and were up by as many as 20 points in the second half. Wright and Richard Jefferson combined for Arizona's first 14 points and a quick lead that the Wildcats never relinquished. Jefferson finished with 13 points and seven assists.

Arenas and Gardner, called the best freshman guard tandem Arizona has ever had by coach Lute Olson, ran the court and set up basket after basket for the Wildcats.

Arenas scored 15 points and Gardner finished with eight and five assists.

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