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Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament Notes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 12, 2001
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    No. 2 Seed Arizona (23-7) at NCAA Midwest Region First/Second Rounds

    Date: Friday, March 16, 2001

    Time: approx. 2:15 p.m. CST

    Location: Kemper Arena (17,484), Kansas City, Mo.

    Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

    TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery)

    Game Data: Fourth-ranked Arizona (23-7, 15-3 Pac-10) appears in its 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region ... The Wildcats face No. 15 seed Eastern Illinois (21-9, 11-5 OVC) in the first round ... Arizona has a 27-18 (.600) record in 19 previous appearances ... Arizona is 10-3 this season against the 2001 NCAA Tournament field ... The Wildcats have an 0-2 NCAA Tournament record in Kansas City, including an 0-1 mark in Kemper Arena at the 1988 Final Four.

    The Rankings: UA rose to No. 4 in the current ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll and is No. 8 in the Associated Press poll as of March 5. Arizona opened the year as the nation’s top-ranked team in the media and coaches polls. Incidentally, UA has been ranked in the AP top 25 for 109 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 236 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season.

    Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 18th season at Arizona and his 28th overall as a head coach with a career record of 632-224 (.739) and 440-132 (.770)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (250) in history, trailing UCLA’s John Wooden (304, 1949-75), Oregon State’s Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) and Washington’s Hec Edmundson (266, 1921-47)... He has the second-best conference winning percentage in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74) ... During his 18-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), gone to three Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997), won nine Pac-10 Conference titles and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 16 years in a row, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 26)... He also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four... Olson has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year six times (1986, ‘88, ‘89, ‘93, ‘94, ‘98), the Big 10 Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ‘81) and directed the UA program to the nation’s best winning percentage over the past 13 years... In his collegiate career, he has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona – 15 alone in the 1990s... He has led Arizona to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 23 overall in his career, making him one of only six head coaches in NCAA history to record 23 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 271-26 (.912) in McKale Center and have won 199 of its last 210 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 32-21 in 21 career NCAA appearances, including a 25-15 mark at Arizona. He is 0-0 vs. Eastern Illinois.

    Last Time Out: Jason Gardner’s three-pointer with 59 seconds to go broke a 74-74 tie and propelled Arizona to 78-76 win at California last Saturday. Loren Woods’ 22 points and Michael Wright’s 20 led a balanced attack as the Wildcats won for the sixth straight time. A Richard Jefferson free throw with 11 seconds remaining provided the final margin. UA shot 50 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Golden Bears, 34-29, and tallied 21 assists.

    Scouting Eastern Illinois: Eastern Illinois, the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Champions, enter the NCAA Tournament with a 21-9 record and a five-game win streak. As a team, the Panthers average 82.9 points per game and shoot .478 (888-of-1,858) from the floor. EIU also features the third- and fifth-ranked scorers in the nation in Kyle Hill (23.5 ppg) and Henry Domercant (22.9 ppg) respectively.

    The Series: This afternoon’s game is the first meeting of the two schools. All-time, Arizona is 3-1 against Ohio Valley Conference schools.

    P.O.W.: Woods led Arizona to a sweep of the Bay Area by averaging 16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the team’s two wins. He shot .526 (10-of-19) from the floor and .750 from the line to go with three blocks and two steals. Woods opened the week with a team high eight rebounds to go with 10 points and four assists in the win Thursday at Stanford. His efforts helped the Cats post a 36-27 rebound advantage. He followed that effort with a 22-point, nine-rebound performance in UA’s two-point win at Cal. He connected on 7-of-13 shots from the floor, was 8-of-11 from the line and added three assists. Woods posted 15 points and six rebounds in the second half and was key in the game’s final moments, as he scored the game-tying basket with 1:34 remaining and assisted on a Jason Gardner trey with 0:59 to go that put UA ahead for good. He earned Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors for his efforts.

    Streaking: Arizona will make its 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance riding a six-game win streak. It equals the longest win streak of the year for the Wildcats. UA also won six consecutive games from Jan. 11-Jan. 27. The 17-year tournament streak is the second-longest active behind North Carolina’s 27.

    20 Wins: Saturday’s regular-season-ending win at California gave the Wildcats a 23-7 record and also gave head coach Lute Olson his 23rd 20-win season in his 28-year coaching career. Three of the team’s wins were credited to associate head coach Jim Rosborough while he directed the program during Coach Olson’s leave of absence. Arizona has now won at least 20 games for the 14th consecutive season and 23rd time in school history.

    Nice to have you Back: Just how important is Lute Olson’s presence on the sidelines to this team? Since Olson returned to the squad on Jan. 15, UA has been one of the nation’s hottest teams winning 13 of 15 games. Incidentally, Arizona won the last two games under Rosborough’s direction, making it 15 wins in the last 17 starts.

    Family Affair: The 2001 NCAA Tournament has a Walton family influence. Arizona sophomore forward Luke Walton is joined in the tournament by his older brother, Nate, a senior who plays for Princeton, the Ivy League champion.

    All-Conference: Arizona’s Michael Wright and Gilbert Arenas were named all-Pacific-10 Conference Monday in voting done by the league’s coaches. For Wright, it was the second consecutive year in which he’s earned all-Pac-10 accolades and the first for Arenas. Arenas was an all-freshman pick last season.

    Drawing a Crowd: The University of Arizona is used to playing to full houses at McKale Center, but this season the draw has been almost as good on the road. In addition to the 15 sellouts at home, the Wildcats have also played in front of full houses in 11 of 15 road or neutral-site games as well. In 2000-01, Arizona has played in front of 143,615 spectators at 15 road or neutral sites, which is 95.2 percent of capacity.

    Gut Check: Arizona won a pair of games last weekend in the Bay Area over Stanford and California by a total of three points. On the season, the Wildcats are 4-4 in games decided by five points or less. While the .500 record isn’t exactly stellar, the squad has won three of four contests decided by five points or less in Pac-10 play. Prior to last weekend, Arizona had won its previous two road games (at USC, at Arizona State) by a combined 74 points.

    At the Point: Jason Gardner finished the regular season with a team-leading 132 assists and a 2.49 assist:turnover ratio. While his scoring numbers are down slightly this season (10.6 in 2001 vs. 12.6 in 2000), Gardner’s decision making has improved greatly. He has 44 fewer turnovers and his assist:turnover ratio is 0.82 higher this season. He’s posted five games in 2000-01 with 20+ minutes and zero turnovers. In his career, UA is 23-5 when Gardner collects at least five assists.

    Survivor: Arizona managed to survive a wild week of play in the college basketball world, as it was one of just five teams ranked in the March 5 Associated Press Top 25 not to lose a game. Arizona went 2-0 last week with wins at Stanford and California and was joined in the elite company by Duke, Boston College, Kentucky and Oklahoma, each of whom captured its conference tournament title.

    Reaching 1,000: Gilbert Arenas enters play today with 1,018 career points in less than two seasons. He became just the sixth player in school history to score 1,000 career points by the end of his sophomore season. Here are the others: 1. Coniel “Popcorn” Norman (1972-74) 1,194; 2. Bob Elliott (1973-75) 1,106; 3. Sean Elliott (1985-87) 1,077; 4. Mike Bibby (1996-98) 1,061; 5. Chris Mills* (1988-91) 1,004. *Mills scored 459 points as a freshman at the University of Kentucky in 1988-89 before transferring to Arizona.

    Against the Best: Last Thursday’s win over top-ranked Stanford upped Arizona’s record on the season vs. ranked opponents to 5-4. In fact, the Wildcats have won four of the last five against ranked teams.

    On the Glass: Arizona finished the season with a +6.6 rebound margin. The Cats are 19-3 this season when outrebounding the opposition and has outrebounded seven consecutive opponents and eight of the last nine. UA has posted a rebound margin of +10 or better in 11 games this season.

    Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of Wildcat success than the 80-point mark. This season, Arizona is 14-0 when scoring 80 points and 7-7 when it does not. Over the last three seasons, UA is 42-3 (.933) when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 17-4 (.810) in the NCAA Tournament when scoring 80 points since 1985.

    Continuing his Climb: Michael Wright currently stands in 14th place on UA's career scoring list with 1,423 points. Just ahead of Wright in 13th place is Steve Kerr (1984-88) with 1,445 points.

    On Target: UA closed the regular season with a .500 shooting effort at California. Arizona is 11-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor. Combined with a solid field goal percentage defense figure (.396), the Wildcats have outshot the opposition in nine of the last 11 games. This season Arizona is 19-1 when outshooting the opposition. Over the last 10 games, the Wildcats connected on .501 (291-of-581) of its field goal attempts. UA registered a .475 FG percentage on the year and improved to .482 in conference play.

    Select Company: The trio of Michael Wright (1,423 points), Loren Woods (1,092) and Gilbert Arenas (1,018) have each totaled 1,000 career points. It is the third time in school history that Arizona has had three active 1,000-point scorers on the same roster. Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr and Craig McMillan first accomplished the feat in 1988, while Miles Simon, Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson matched it in 1998.

    Clamping Down: The Arizona defense has limited opponents to just .391 field goal shooting over the last 10 games. Through 30 games that figure rises slightly to .396 (714-of-1,801). The Wildcats have held 15 opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season. UA uses that pressure to hold opponents to an average of just 65.9 points per game. Ten times this season Arizona has held opponents to 60 points or less.

    At the Line: In each of Arizona’s last two wins, the team has made more free throws than the opponent has attempted to continue a season-long trend in which the Cats have made more free throws (583) than opponents have attempted (572). In connecting on 74.2 percent of the charity tosses, Arizona has posted a +10 or better free throw advantage 12 times this season.

    Playing Unselfishly: Arizona posted a positive assist:turnover ratio in seven of its last nine games. For the year UA passed out 510 assists and committed 457 turnovers, good for a +1.12 ratio. Led by Jason Gardner (2.49) and Luke Walton (2.08), four Arizona players (Frazier/Woods) have positive assist:turnover ratios.

    More than Just “D”: Richard Jefferson, one of the team’s best defenders, has displayed versatility on both ends of the floor. Over his last five games, Jefferson is averaging 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 blocked shots. He was UA’s leading rebounder at California with nine after scoring 14 points in the win at Stanford.

    Leading the Way: Gilbert Arenas has been the driving force for the Wildcats over the last half of the season. In Pac-10 play, Arenas led the team with an 18.0 ppg average and shot .519 (108-of-208) from the floor and .477 (42-of-88) from three-point range. Over his last 10 games, Arenas is averaging 18.1 points and shooting an impressive .568 (63-of-111) from the floor and ,524 (22-of-42) from behind the arc.

    Picking It Up: Loren Woods, the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots, has picked up his all-around game of late. Over his last three games, Woods is averaging 16.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He’s also hit 18-of-29 (.621) FG attempts.

    Mr. Consistency: Junior forward Michael Wright has been Arizona’s most consistent player all season. The Chicago native leads the team in rebounding (8.2), field goal percentage (.591) and ranks second in scoring (16.4). He has eight double-doubles this season and leads all active Pac-10 players with 33 in his three-year career.

    Making the Most of It: After redshirting last season to earn his degree in four years, Eugene Edgerson has come back strong, averaging 4.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. His is one of two Wildcats (Wright) to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor (.549). Gene shot .571 (22-of-42) from the floor in Pac-10 play.

    Boxscore Filler: Luke Walton continues to be one of the most productive and unselfish players around. Getting 21.0 minutes per game, Walton is averaging 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He ranks second on the team with 100 assists and third with 36 steals. His 2.08 assist:turnover ratio ranks fourth in the Pac-10 and he is the only player in the top 10 that is not a regular starter.

    Role Player: Senior forward Justin Wessel is one of the nation’s finest role players. Featuring the ability to play inside or out, Wessel is equally effective as a starter or coming off the bench. Arizona is 17-3 in Wessel’s career when he starts.

    Tournament Success: The senior trio of John Ash, Eugene Edgerson and Justin Wessel has quite a bit of NCAA tourney success under its collective belt. The last link to UA’s 1997 National Championship team, the group is 10-3 in NCAA Tournament play.

    Fast Starts: Getting off to a good start is key for the Wildcats, as the team is 20-1 when leading at the half. Arizona averages 38.0 points per game in the first half and holds the opposition to an average of 30.2 points. After getting a first-half lead, Arizona actually increases the point production in the second half. UA averages 43.3 points after the break and outscores the opposition by 8.0 points.

    Olson Honors: UA head coach Lute Olson will be given the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” award. The award was adopted by the Wooden Award Committee in 1999, and recognizes the lifetime achievement of coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal achievement. Olson will be honored at the 25th annual John R. Wooden Awards program.

    Tickets Anyone?: One Arizona player already has his ticket punched for the Final Four. Freshman walk-on Jason Ranne, who doesn’t normally travel with the team, was lucky enough to win tickets to the Final Four in the University’s open student lottery. There is one catch, though. To actually collect the ducats in Minneapolis, Ranne and the Wildcats will have to earn the berth on the court.

    To the House: UA video coordinator Tim House deserves a little credit for a couple of recent UA victories. The versatile fifth-year senior also practices with the team on occasion. House joined in the preparations for the team’s last two Saturday road games (at USC, at California) and helped the Cats to a pair of wins. His shot fake and baseline drive for a bucket at the L.A. Sports Arena on Feb. 16 was one of the team’s most memorable moves of the year.

    Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five players to National Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period: Wil Bynum (5-10, 170, G, Chicago, Ill./Crane Tech Prep), Channing Frye (6-10, 230, C, Phoenix, Ariz./St. Mary’s H.S.), Isaiah Fox (6-9, 255, C, Santa Monica, Calif./Crossroads H.S.), Dennis Latimore (6-8, 230, F, Halsted, Kan./Halsted H.S.) and Salim Stoudamire (6-2, 175, G, Lake Oswego, Ore./Lake Oswego H.S.). It was ranked as the ninth-best recruiting class in the nation by Clark Francis’ Hoop Scoop magazine.

    Farewell, Bobbi: A special memorial fund has been established in Bobbi Olson's name at the Arizona Cancer Center, where she had undergone treatment since her illness was diagnosed in June 1998. Contributions can be made payable to the Arizona Cancer Center/UAF and mailed to Arizona Cancer Center Development, P.O. Box 245013, Tucson, AZ 85724-5013.

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