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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dominant Backcourt Leads Arizona to Final 4

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- The best backcourt in college basketball?


There's no doubt about it. It is Arizona's Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves.


Stoudamire agrees. "There are a lot of good guards," he said, "but there isn't a tandem that does as much for a team as Khalid and I do for this one."


Reeves demurs. "Best in the country? That's a thing for others to decide," he said. "I don't really care if we are the best. I just want to win."


Their answers reflect their personalities. Stoudamire, the brash point guard, is afraid of no one. For Reeves, the quiet team man, nothing matters but winning. Both will be on display during the Final Four in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend when Arizona attempts to knock off Arkansas for a place in the national championship game.


There are other fine tandems, but Stoudamire and Reeves are the best. Kentucky's Rick Pitino not only praises them, but says they will be National Basketball Association stars. Boston College's Jim O'Brien, who played Syracuse, Florida and Arizona this season, called the Arizona backcourt the finest.


"It's hard for me to remember a better combo of guards since I've been coaching," said Arizona coach Lute Olson. He concedes Stoudamire and Reeves are the best he has ever had -- even better than Steve Kerr and Craig McMillan, the pair who took the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1988.


Pressed for a comparison, Olson said he was "always impressed with Hazzard and Goodrich." That's Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich, who led UCLA to national title success in the 1960s.


Stoudamire and Reeves are a tandem off the court, too. For three years they have been roommates and confidantes.


Stoudamire averages 18.3 points and more than six assists each game, shooting 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. He can also penetrate any defense.


Reeves, the off-guard, averages 23.7 points and leads his team in steals. He, too, can shoot (49 percent overall, 41 percent on three-pointers) and penetrate any defense.


Guard them high, and they will drive to the hoop in either direction. Guard them low, and they will kill you with their jumpers. Guard one, and the other will break free.


"You can't look at either one of them and say there's a weakness," Olson said. "Both of them understand the game, and both are highly competitive."


For all his brashness, Stoudamire works hard. For instance, the extra shooting practice he took before the Missouri game.


"I shot around for 45 minutes," he said. "I shot everywhere -- in and out. I wanted to get my rhythm going."


His rhythm was still going Saturday against Missouri when he hit five of his first six shots. Was Stoudamire in a zone? "I think so," he said. "I mean, I felt like I could hit any shot whenever I crossed half-court. I was really loose."


The Arizona guards remember the bitter losses that ended the past two seasons. "I hope this does silence our doubters," Stoudamire said. "Who knows? In our society, there could still be some doubters out there. All I know is there are just four teams who will be playing next Saturday and we're one of them."


But playing Saturday isn't enough.


"We want," Stoudamire said, "to play on Monday night, too."