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Wildcats advance at Preseason NIT behind Shakur

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Wildcats won their 13th
consecutive Preseason NIT game Tuesday night -- but this was no
spectacular debut for a team that has its sights on the Final Four.

Mustafa Shakur scored 23 points and Ivan Radenovic 20 -- both
career highs -- in the Wildcats (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) often-sloppy 80-69
victory over San Diego.

Salim Stoudamire also scored 20 for the Wildcats, who are 13-1
overall in the Preseason NIT. Arizona won the tournament in its
last three appearances -- 1990, 1995, 1999.

The Wildcats knew that they didn't play up to their potential.

"The first half was excellent. The second half was
disgusting," Stoudamire said. "I wanted to win, and I wanted to
win by a lot. I thought we should have won by 40."

The Wildcats host Wright State in the second round Thursday
night. The winner goes to the semifinals in New York next week.

Brice Vounang, San Diego's 6-foot-8, 250-pound center with a
soft shooting touch, matched his career best with 28 points and had
11 rebounds for the Toreros. Brandon Gay added 17 points.

"He had a great game," Toreros coach Brad Holland said of
Vounang. "He was all-conference last season, and he's taking the
pressure well. He did a great job on Channing Frye. We didn't have
to double him. He did a good job one-on-one with him."

Shakur, the team's sophomore playmaker who averaged just six
shots a game last season, was 7-for-12 in Arizona's season opener.

Radenovic, in his second season with the Wildcats from Serbia
and Montenegro, was 8-for-17 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats led 41-23 at halftime.

San Diego, coming off a 4-26 season and 1-13 in the West Coast
Conference, trailed only 14-10 after Vounang's 10-footer with 11:42
to play in the half. But Shakur banked in a 3-pointer to start at
16-0 Arizona run that made it 30-12 on Radenovic's fastbreak layup
with 5:15 left in the half.

Shakur scored eight, Stoudamire five and Radenovic three during
the surge.

From that point on, the outmanned Toreros outscored Arizona
57-50.

"One of the things I was a little disappointed in was we did
not do a good job of really closing them out," said coach Lute
Olson, beginning his 22nd season at Arizona. "We just didn't show
that killer instinct that we need to have."

But Shakur and Radenovic, with late help from Stoudamire,
overcame Arizona's poor shooting to lead the Wildcats to victory.

"We did a good job at times, but we let up in the end. We have
to work on that," Shakur said.

Olson praised Vounang.

"I'm not sure we're going to play anybody tougher than he is,"
Olson said, "because if you forced him to step out and get the
ball, which was our first intent, the guy has got the softest touch
off the glass that I've seen in a long time. He was a load."

The Wildcats had 10 turnovers in the first half and San Diego
12. Shakur scored 12, and Stoudamire and Radenovic 10 apiece in the
first 10 minutes.

Hassan Adams, who led Arizona in scoring last season at 17.3
points per game, was 0-for-3 shooting and committed three turnovers
in a scoreless first half. He wound up 3-for-12 for six points.

Brett Melton's 3-pointer started a 9-0 run that cut Arizona's
lead to 59-47 on Avi Fogel's driving layup with 9:25 left.

The teams traded baskets, then Radenovic scored inside on a pass
from Frye. Stoudamire sank an 18-footer and a 14-foot floater from
the baseline and Arizona was up 67-49 with five minutes to go.

Arizona's Isaiah Fox sat out the game for disciplinary reasons.
He will play Thursday, Olson said.