Our Greatest Games series is a look back at some of the most memorable single game performances by some of the best players in Arizona basketball history. Make sure to check PGU for the next installment.
Along with 5-time NBA champion Steve Kerr, Salim Stoudamire earned the title of most deadly three point shooter in Arizona basketball history. An admitted perfectionist, Stoudamire struggled with negative body language at times and often found himself in Lute Olson’s doghouse. But Stoudamire blossomed not only into one of the best shooters to ever come out of the program, he was also one of the most clutch Wildcats to lead Arizona through crunch time.
January 25, 2003, Arizona 91, Kansas 74
32 points, 12-18 FG’s, 6-9 3pt
Ranked #1 in the country, Arizona was traveling to play #6 Kansas on their homecourt, the legendary Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Though the hype around the game was huge, the Wildcats limped into the first half allowing the Jayhawks to shoot 65% from the field. KU led 44-24 with 5 minutes to go in the first period, and took a 52-39 lead into halftime.
Then Stoudamire got to work. Just a game after he had been benched for poor play, the hot shooting Stoudamire exploded for 32 points including multiple dagger three’s. What was most impressive about the win was when Kansas appeared on their way to another blowout, Stoudamire and the Cats ended up punishing the Jayhawks with the most lopsided home defeat since 1989 at KU’s hallowed stadium. The 13 point lead was the most a Roy William’s team had ever given up and it snapped a 25 game home winning streak.
January 15, 2005, Arizona 76, UCLA 73
32 points, 11-16 FG’s, 4-7 3pt, 24 2nd half points
In what was a tightly contested game the whole way through, Stoudamire turned in one of the best 2nd half performances in the history of the program and also hit one of the best game winning shots ever at McKale Center.
Stoudamire went off for 24 points on 9-11 field goal shooting in the final 20 minutes, exposing UCLA’s defense for multiple open mid range shots. He scored 24 of the team’s last 29 points, a perfect example of a player putting the team on his back. He also accounted for 17 of Arizona’s 18 points over a ten minute span.
But Stoudamire saved his best for last. After Aaron Afflalo hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 16 seconds left, Stoudamire coolly swished a 26 foot attempt 3-pointer of his own with 2.5 seconds left to play. Arizona averted near disaster after being called for a technical foul for players leaving the bench when Hassan Adams stole the ensuing inbound play and drew a foul. However, UCLA missed their free throw attempts, Adams missed his, and the game was over.
March 24, 2005, Arizona 79, Oklahoma St 78
19 points, 7 ast, 2 stl, 7-11 FG’s, 4-7 3pt
Stoudamire’s best clutch moment came on the biggest of stages, a Sweet 16 matchup with #2 seed Oklahoma St. Despite being held scoreless in the second half until the 6 minute mark, Stoudamire scored 10 points in the final 4:35 of the game, including an off balance two pointer to give Arizona the lead with 2.8 seconds to go.
After picking up two early fouls and playing just 10 first half minutes, Stoudamire turned it on when the game was on the line.
Stoudamire hit two NBA range 3-pointers in the closing minutes and there was no question who would take the shot on the Wildcats’ final play. Rejecting a screen set by Channing Frye, Stoudamire sunk a dagger over two Oklahoma St defenders, propelling Arizona to the Elite 8.
“I thrive on those situations. That’s what I live for,” Stoudamire said after the game. “That’s why I play basketball. Big time players step up in big time situations, and I see myself as one of those players.”