PHOENIX (AP) -As the Arizona Wildcats weathered the chaotic aftermath of Lute Olson's retirement, they began to wonder when something good would happen.
Well, it happened.
A 69-64 victory over No. 4 Gonzaga on Sunday in U.S. Airways Center provided a glimpse of what the Wildcats can be as they forge ahead in their first season without Olson, who suddenly and unexpectedly retired in October, leaving the team in the hands of an interim coach for the second straight season.
``It's a huge win for us,'' forward Chase Budinger said. ``Who could say they've had three different coaches in the last three years? It's kind of unheard of. This type of win gives us a lot of motivation, gives us a lot of satisfaction.''
It also has given them a bit of positive attention for a change. The Wildcats (7-2) received 10 votes in Monday's AP Top 25.
It was a big victory, but it didn't surprise interim coach Russ Pennell.
to be able to play with folks like this,'' Pennell said. ``I think this team is good enough to do that.''
Arizona hopes the victory will provide momentum for its next two tests - at UNLV on Saturday and against Kansas on Dec. 23 in McKale Center.
``We've just got to keep on rolling,'' Budinger said. ``We just can't let this be our big win of the season.''
M. Those heartbreakers may have paid off Sunday in a game played with the fury of an NCAA tournament matchup.
M, and his absence was noticeable at the end of the game.
On Sunday, Wise went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc and had four assists (against two turnovers), two blocked shots and a steal. He iced the game at the free-throw line, going 3-of-4 down the stretch.
``I know he hasn't done that all year, but when he's doing that, I don't see any reason why they don't compete for the top spot in the Pac-10 the way it is this year,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Few also praised Budinger and forward Jordan Hill, saying they're going to be ``top-15 picks'' in the NBA draft.
``I told our guys this is the two most talented guys we've played against this year,'' Few said. ``And then when Nic Wise plays like that, that's quite a threesome.''
d with Few's assessment, and seemed pleased with his team's development so far this season.
``Are we a typical Arizona team, bringing NBA guys off the bench? Absolutely not,'' Pennell said. ``That's not us. But we do have three pretty good players and some guys that are starting to figure out their roles.''
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