CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- They had carried Arizona to its first Final Four in six years. And going into yesterday's semifinal against Arkansas, everyone knew that Khalid Reeves and Damon Stoudamire would have to carry the Wildcats.
While the Arizona backcourt combined for 36 points in a 91-82 defeat to the Razorbacks, they also missed 32 of 43 shots and, except for Stoudamire's three-point shot to tie the game at halftime, were not much of a factor from long range.
Reeves, who had been averaging close to 30 points a game in this year's NCAA tournament, finished with 20 on 6-for-19 shooting. But his inability to score for long stretches, and his fourth personal with the Wildcats ahead midway through the second half, affected the outcome.
Stoudamire, who had been averaging over 18 points a game in the tournament and had scored 27 in the Wildcats' victory over Missouri in the West Regional Final, missed his first 10 shots en route to a 16-point, five-of-24 performance. Stoudamire, a junior, was two of 13 from three-point range; Reeves missed all nine of his attempts.
"We definitely had some open shots, shots that we needed to take," said Reeves, a second-team All-American who finished his career at Arizona 75 points shy of 2,000. "I was hoping that they'd start to fall, but they never did."
Stoudamire said: "It was very frustrating. I felt pretty good about my shooting going into the game. I don't know what happened, but they just didn't go down today."
Despite the shooting misery of their backcourt, the Wildcats were still leading, 65-61, with 8:42 remaining in the second half. That's when Reeves, trying to defend Arkansas guard Corey Beck in the low post, was called for his fourth personal.
"Khalid's fourth foul for us was obviously a real key one for us," said Arizona coach Lute Olson, whose Wildcats would lead by as many as five (67-62) before being blitzed by a game-breaking 12-0 run. "When both those guys have been on, we've been very good. When one has been on and the other's been off, we've still been good. But when both have been off, we've had our problems."
The Wildcats didn't have those problems yesterday. Until Reeves went to the bench. And then it was over.
His college career.