Date: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2001 Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Lute Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: KWBA-TV (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 16 Arizona (7-4, 0-0 Pac-10) hosts California (8-3, 0-0 Pac-10) in the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both schools ... It is the first time the Cats have opened the Pac-10 slate at McKale Center since the 1997-98 campaign ... Arizona looks for a change in momentum after dropping three of its last five games ... Since 1985-86, Arizona has won or shared nine Pac-10 championships ... In that 15-year span, the Cats have averaged 14.5 conference wins per season ... Standing-Room-Only crowds have witnessed UA's last two home games.
The Rankings: UA slipped to No. 16 in the current Associated Press poll and to No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. 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 99 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 226 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 621-223 (.736) and 429-131 (.766)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins 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 17-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 on the 1990s... He has led Arizona to 13 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 22 overall in his career, making him one of only six head coaches in NCAA history to record 22 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 263-27 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 191 of its last 203 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 28-9 vs. California.
Last Time Out: Antonio Jackson's driving jumper with 10 seconds remaining gave Mississippi State a 75-74 win and snapped Arizona's 31-game Fiesta Bowl Classic win streak last Saturday. The Bulldogs' 40-30 rebound advantage proved to be the difference in a game that saw seven ties and nine lead changes in the second half. Jackson, who scored a game-high 22 points, earned tournament MVP honors for his efforts. Loren Woods led Arizona with 21 points, his second straight 20-point game.
Scouting California: The Golden Bears (8-3) enter league play riding a seven-game win streak after Saturday's 81-59 win over LaSalle in the championship game of the Golden Bear Classic. Six of those seven wins have come at home. As a team, Cal shoots .455 (280-of-616) from the floor and .658 (181-of-275) from the line and outscores the opposition by 9.6 points per game. Individually, Sean Lampley leads the team with a 17.9 ppg average and chips in with 6.5 rebounds per game.
The Series: Tonight's game is the 59th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 35-23 series advantage. Arizona has won seven of the last nine series meetings, including both tilts last season. Arizona is 19-9 in series games played in Tucson, 15-13 in Berkeley and 1-1 in neutral-site games.
Farewell, Bobbi: The Wildcat family suffered a great loss earlier this week, as Bobbi Olson died peacefully Monday morning, surrounded by her family, from complications related to ovarian cancer. She was 65. Mrs. Olson, the former Roberta Rae Russell, was the wife of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson. The couple had been married 47 years and have five children and 14 grandchildren. "Bobbi faced her illness with great courage," said Lute Olson. "Her love of family remained her priority and even in her last moments she continued taking care of and comforting all of us as only a wife and mother can do. A special memorial fund is being 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. A public memorial service is planned for Sunday, Jan. 7, in McKale Center at 3 p.m.
Taking Over: It was announced prior to last Saturday's game that coach Lute Olson would take an immediate leave of absence from the program in order to spend quality time with Bobbi. UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough has assumed temporary leadership of the program for an indefinite amount of time.
Leading the Way: Loren Woods posted averages of 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last week as the Wildcats split a pair of games. Woods shot 60 percent from the floor (15-of-25) and 80 percent from the line for the week (16-of-20) in logging 66 total minutes. He scored a season-high 25 points in Thursday's win over Butler (9-of-11 FGs) to go with nine boards and three blocks. He added 21 points in Saturday's one-point loss to Mississippi State to go with six boards and two blocks to earn Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic all-tournament honors.
Loss of Control: On the year, Arizona carries a +8.1 rebound margin. But in the team's four losses, the story has been different. Including Saturday's loss in which the Cats were outrebounded, 40-30, Arizona has been outrebounded in two of those games and is even in terms of rebound margin. The total number of rebounds in UA's loses is 140-140.
Bouncing Back: Junior Richard Jefferson rebounded from a seven-point effort vs. Butler to equal a season high with 20 points vs. Mississippi State. Jefferson hit 9-of-13 shots from the floor and added six boards and five assists in the effort. It was his second 20-point effort of the year and helped him earn a spot of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic all-tournament team.
Two Twenties: When Loren Woods topped 20 points in both Fiesta Bowl Classic games, it marked the first time this season that a Wildcat player had topped 20 points in consecutive games and the third time in Woods' Arizona career that he has accomplished the feat. Richard Jefferson also added 20 vs. the Bulldogs to mark the second time this season that the Cats have had at least two players with 20 points in the same game (3 vs. Gonzaga).
That's Not Wright: Michael Wright tallied a season-low six points in the loss to Mississippi State, snapping his streak of 10 double-figure games this year. He had been the only UA player to score in double figures in each game this season. He currently averages 16.5 points per game and posts a .588 field goal percentage.
More Honors: In a team vote following practice on Tuesday, seniors Eugene Edgerson, Justin Wessel and Loren Woods were named tri-captains. All three are fifth-year seniors with a combined 283 games of collegiate experience.
Team Leader: Jason Gardner continued his string of making at least two treys in every game this year, when he went 2-for-7 from behind the arc vs. Mississippi State. He has at least one trey in 21 straight games dating back to last year. He leads the team with 33 treys and a 44.0 3-point FG percentage.
Looking to Improve: Arizona's 7-4 (.636) record heading into Pac-10 play next week is the team's worst non-conference record percentage-wise since the 1986-87 season, when the Cats had a 5-3 (.625) non-league mark entering conference play.
Roller Coaster: Gilbert Arenas continues to have an up-and-down season. After scoring a career-low two points in Thursday's win over Butler, Arenas did rebound with 14 points. Interestingly, though, 12 of those 14 points came in the second half. Arenas hit 4-of-6 shots, including 2-of-3 treys, and added two free throws en route to those 12 second-half points.
From the Line: The Wildcats continue to do a good job of capitalizing on its free throw attempts. Arizona is tied for the conference lead with a 73.9 free throw percentage and its 207 made FTs (18.8 made per game) also leads the league. Incidentally, UA has made more free throws than the opposition in eight of 11 games this season.
Continuing his Climb: With his six points on Saturday, Michael Wright inched up UA's career scoring list with 1,111 points. Just ahead of Wright at the moment in 24th place is Phil Taylor (1975-78) who totaled 1,127 career points.
League Leader: The only Arizona player to lead a Pac-10 statistical category, Michael Wright leads the league when it comes to rebounding. The junior leads the Pac-10 with a 9.4 rebounds per game average. His 41 offensive rebounds also tops the conference rankings.
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.
Call them favorites: In the Pac-10 Conference's annual poll of media members, the Arizona Wildcats were a unanimous choice to finish first in the 2000-01 men's basketball race. Arizona received all 29 first place votes and 290 points overall to finish ahead of runner-up Stanford. In the last 11 years, the preseason winner of the poll has won or shared the actual league title nine times. UA has been the preseason favorite six other times.
In Pacific-10 Conference Play: Arizona enters its 23rd season of Pac-10 competition with a composite record of 265-131 (.669). In those 22 seasons, that record is second in the league behind only UCLA. The Wildcats have won or shared nine league titles in that span, the most of any Pac-10 member. Arizona's .669 winning percentage ranks second among all Pac-10 members since 1916.
A Top-10 Player: Even though he ranks sixth on the team in minutes played (22.6), Luke Walton ranks second on the team in assists (39) and steals (16). Those numbers also place him among the Pac-10 leaders, as he ranks ninth in assists (3.55/g) and eighth in steals (1.45/g).
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
Stanford Game Time Set: The start time for the Jan. 6 game with Stanford has been set by CBS-TV. The Pac-10 matchup will tip at 11 a.m. MST in McKale Center and be part of the network's split national package prior to the National Football League's AFC Divisional Playoff.
Up Next: Arizona hosts No. 2 Stanford in a nationally-televised game in McKale Center on Saturday, Jan. 6. Tip-off on CBS is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST. Following that contest, the Wildcats hit the road for the only time in the month of January with games at Washington State (Jan. 11) and Washington (Jan. 13).