TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Wildcats were unranked and unstoppable against overmatched Sam Houston State on Monday night.
Out of the regular-season national rankings for the first time in 18 years, the Wildcats took a big lead early and led by as many as 42 points in an 87-51 rout of the Bearkats in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.
Chris Rodgers hit a career-high five 3-pointers - in eight attempts - and scored 19 points for the Wildcats (6-3), while freshman Marcus Williams added 18, the most in his young career, on 8-for-9 shooting. Point guard Mustafa Shakur had seven assists without a turnover.
Ryan Bright led the Bearkats (6-3) with eight points.
Arizona plays Western Kentucky in the title game on Wednesday night and Sam Houston State meets Central Florida for third place. Western Kentucky beat UCF 73-68 in Monday's first game.
Earlier Monday, the Wildcats dropped out of the regular-season rankings for the first time since the start of the 1987-88 season, a span of 312 consecutive polls. They found the failure perplexing because Arizona, then ranked No. 24, won at Utah 73-43 in its only game last week and has a four-game winning streak.
"Right now I think our guys know how good they can be," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "It's not the ranking at the beginning that counts, but certainly with the game at Utah and this one, I don't think you should be dropping spots."