Arizona Basketball: Channing Frye’s Top 5 Games At Arizona

Apr 1, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (9) drives to the basket against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 110-108 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (9) drives to the basket against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 110-108 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

A skinny kid from Phoenix has made a big impact this NBA postseason.

When former Arizona Basketball standout Channing Frye was traded earlier this season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, you could hear a collective yawn from basketball pundits from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

It wasn’t Frye’s fault that the most interesting trade at the deadline involved a veteran role player and not a sexy superstar.

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The trade has worked out pretty good for the Cavs.

Frye is shooting .571 percent from three-point land during the playoffs and dropped 27 points on the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After he helped his team win Friday night’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals game six, the Cavs will be going to the NBA Finals. Frye will be playing in Finals for the first time in ten years in the league.

When Frye got to the pros, he had to refine his game from the perimeter and his ability to shoot the three-ball in the NBA surprised Arizona fans.

During his four-year career in Tucson, he was only 6-of-23 from downtown.

After game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, he’s 26-of-45 from behind the arc during the playoffs.

When Frye was being recruited by Lute Olson, he was a skinny kid who looked like a basketball project, not a future NBA Lottery pick. When Frye stepped on campus, it didn’t take long for him to make a huge impact in the starting lineup.

He might be one of the most underrated players to play at Arizona.

One thing you will notice about Frye’s Top Five games at Arizona countdown is that all the games on the list were against ranked opponents or were in the NCAA Tournament.

Another thing to note about Frye is he had the knack of standing out in tough games the Cats lost.

One such example of this was when he had his career high of 30 on the road at No. 14 Washington in 2005. The Cats split the Pac-10 Title that year against the Huskies.

Onto the Top Five

5. Dec. 5, 2004
(No. 21) Arizona                    68
(No. 15) Mississippi State  64

Both teams shot the ball poorly in this early season Pac-10/SEC battle royale.

Frye took full advantage of this by collecting a career-high 16 rebounds.

Combined with 18 points, Frye collected his second double-double of the young season.

4. Feb 2, 2002
(No. 19) Arizona   88
(No. 18) Stanford 82 OT

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Stanford had a run in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that made them one of the premier programs in the country. It also was a time when the Arizona/UCLA rivalry took a back seat to the clashes between the Cardinal and the Cats.

During Frye’s freshman year the Cats went into Palo Alto and came out with a gritty win in overtime, after eliminating a 15-point deficit in the second half.

Frye was not fazed by the rowdies at Cameron West, dropping 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field.

He played 44 minutes of the 45-minute contest and grabbed ten boards along the way.

3. March 16, 2002
(No. 3 Seed) Arizona        68
(No. 11 Seed) Wyoming  60

During Jason Terry’s senior year, Lute Olson vowed to never come back to the famous Pit in Albuquerque.

Olson was rightfully upset because of a clock issue that gave New Mexico some precious extra few seconds at the end of the game.

That allowed the Lobos to race down the court and score the winning bucket against the Cats.

Three seasons later the Cats were forced to head back to The Pit when they were selected to play there during the NCAA Tournament.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Lobo fans could not wait to let the Cats hear their boos when they arrived at The Pit, but it didn’t affect the Cats ability to advance in the Big Dance.

After defeating a scrappy UC-Santa Barbara team in the first round, the Cats took on Wyoming. Against the Cowboys Frye had arguably his best game of his freshman season on both ends of the court.

He finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

2. March 22, 2003
(No. 1 Seed) Arizona    96
(No. 9 Seed) Gonzaga  95 (2OT)

This was one of the scariest victories Arizona fans ever had to watch.

The Cats were the pre-season No. 1 team in the country and held that spot for much of the season. A loss to the Zags would have been disastrous.

All five starters scored in double figures in this teeter-totter affair.

There were multiple lead changes, ties and clutch shots in this one and Frye made the most of the spotlight.

He and Jason Gardner led the team with 22 points a piece.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Frye also added 12 boards to his stat sheet for another double-double.

The big man had eight double-doubles in 12 career NCAA Tournament games.

1. March 26, 2005
(No. 1 Seed) Illinois    90
(No. 3 Seed) Arizona  89 (OT)

Hopefully, you are still reading this and have not tossed your computer, phone or tablet into a brick wall.

The mere mention of this game still haunts Arizona fans 11 years later.

The silver lining that came from this nightmare is Frye’s performance against the Illini probably helped him become a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

His 24 points and 12 rebounds against one of the best Illini teams ever, made NBA scouts notice the lanky big man on the big stage.

Next: Arizona Basketball's Mount Rushmore

Frye would be drafted a few months later by the New York Knicks with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. Bear Down!