--> -->
Arizona Tops Jackson State, 71-47

Jackson State's Deon Burns (30) and Arizona's Luke Walton (4) reach for a loose ball. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

  • Box Score
  • Post Game Notes and Quotes
  • Lute Olson Post-Game Comments (Audio File)
  • Loren Woods Audio File

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Arizona was ripe to become the NCAA tournament's first top-seeded team to lose in the first round. Jackson State wasn't quite the team to do the job.

Michael Wright had 19 points and 13 rebounds, Gilbert Arenas scored 16 points, and Richard Jefferson added 14 as the Wildcats beat Jackson State 71-47 on Thursday night in the West Regional.

With injured 7-foot-1 center Loren Woods dressed in a red T-shirt and a shell necklace as he cheered from the bench, the Wildcats (27-6) were down to seven scholarship players for their tournament run.

It seemed remotely possible the Tigers (17-16) could win after Arizona led 28-20 at halftime despite shooting 30 percent (8-of-26). It might have been closer if not for Jackson State's 11 turnovers and 29 percent (8-of-27) shooting.

No doubt Arizona coach Lute Olson was happy to move on to the second round. The Wildcats played sloppy, perhaps stemming from a belief that it wouldn't be too difficult to dispatch the 16th-seeded Tigers.

Eventually, of course, it wasn't.

Arenas made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Jefferson added another as the Wildcats buried gritty but unpolished Jackson State with an 11-2 run midway through the second half.

Arizona finished it by outscoring the Tigers 26-10 and holding Jackson State to three field goals in the last 10:48.

Vincent Jones, a lanky 6-10 center, was a defensive presence, altering shots and disrupting Arizona fast breaks. He also was Jackson State's only consistent offensive threat, scoring 12 points. Marino Walker added 10 points.

The Tigers made a serious run in the second half, cutting into a 45-29 deficit by scoring eight straight points. When Walker's jumper went through the net with 11:38 to play, it was 45-37 and the Tigers were pumping their fists.

They were too excited, it turned out.

Jackson State left the Wildcats open on the perimeter, and Arenas punished them by making 3-pointers on consecutive possessions that pushed the lead back to 51-37 with 10:13 on the clock.

Jackson State's upset dreams faded when the Tigers went the next six minutes without a field goal.

Still, the fans in Salt Lake had fun embracing the Tigers, who finished fourth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference during the regular season but reached the NCAAs by winning the league's tournament.

Jackson State's band and cheerleaders even drew big cheers when they showed up with 7:42 remaining before halftime. It turned out the bus driver had become lost on the way to the arena.

Arizona shot 41 percent (26-63), a number that must improve if the Willdcats are to go deep into the tournament.

But the bottom line was advancing to the second round, something Arizona didn't do last season. The Wildcats will have to continue without Woods, but that's a situation that won't be anything new.

For most of the Pac-10 season, Jefferson was out with a broken foot. The Wildcats also had a slew of defections, injuries and other setbacks that left them with their seven scholarship players.

Baseball | Basketball-M | Basketball-W | Cross Country-M | Cross Country-W
Football | Golf-M | Golf-W | Gymnastics | Soccer | Softball
Swimming/Diving-M | Swimming/Diving-W | Tennis-M | Tennis-W
Track & Field-M | Track & Field-W | Volleyball | Staff Directory/General Info
Community Service | Donor Relations & Philanthropy | Heritage & Traditions
Publications | Special Events | Student-Athlete Services | Trademarks & Licensing
Alumni Letterwinners | Other LInks | Arizona.edu | Pac-10