Game 5: No. 5 Arizona (3-1) vs. Gonzaga (3-0)
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2000
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Lute Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: The Wildcats (3-1) return to Tucson after a 9,192-mile road trip to start the season ... Tonight's game vs. Gonzaga (3-0) is the first of two games this week against \West Coast Conference schools ... All-time, the Wildcats are 10-10 against West Coast Conference schools ... During the Lute Olson Era, Arizona is 15-2 in home openers and has won seven consecutive ... UA has won 179 of its last 190 games in McKale Center, a winning percentage of .942 ... The Wildcats opened the year with three impressive wins to claim the Maui Invitational championship before falling to Purdue, 72-69, on Saturday.
The Rankings: UA slipped to No. 5 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls. Arizona opened the season as the nation's top-ranked team in the media and coaches polls.
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 617-220 (.737) and 425-128 (.769)... 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 259-26 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 187 of their last 198 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 0-0 vs. Gonzaga.
Last Time Out: On the strength of 52 percent shooting from the field, the Purdue Boilermakers handed Arizona its first loss of the season Saturday, 72-69, at the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis. The Boilers jumped out to a 15-3 lead in the first 3:48 and erased a seven-point second half deficit to earn the win. Willie Deane scored Purdue's last four points in the game's final 1:13, including a layup with 2.9 seconds remaining to clinch it. It marked the first time this season that the Wildcats allowed an opponent to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. Michael Wright continued his solid play with 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Luke Walton added nine points and eight rebounds.
Scouting Gonzaga: The Bulldogs enter play with a 3-0 record after a 92-42 win over Idaho last Saturday. The Bulldogs are averaging 83.7 points per game and have won all three contests to date by an average of almost 28 points per game. Gonzaga has been excellent defensively as well , holding the opposition to 36.3 percent shooting and amassing a +12.4 rebound margin. Individually, the Bulldogs have three players averaging in double figures, led by Casey Calvary's 21.0 ppg average. He also leads the club with a 6.0 rebound average.
The Series: This is the first meeting of the two schools. Arizona is 10-10 all-time against schools that currently make up the West Coast Conference.
A Winning Combination: The Arizona-Gonzaga match-up features two teams that have enjoyed quite a bit of success lately. The teams have combined to win 103 games since the 1998-99 season (.774 winning percentage) and two regular season conference championships. The teams have also combined for 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
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 (see poll on next page). 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.
Player of the Week: Michael Wright was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds in UA's four games last week. He earned Maui Invitational MVP honors after posting averages of 16.3 points and 13.7 rebounds in the three-game tournament, including two double-doubles. In the season opener vs. Chaminade, Wright tallied 15 points and a Maui Invitational-record 19 boards. He followed that with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Dayton and totaled 16 points and nine rebounds vs. No. 8 Illinois. He closed the week with 18 points (on 7-of-11 FG shooting) and nine boards last Saturday against Purdue. It was the second time in his career that Wright has been so honored.
Good on the Glass: Arizona has done a great job on the boards this season, posting a +10.8 rebound margin through four games. The Cats have outrebounded three of four opponents this season, including a +28 margin vs. Chaminade and a +14 mark against Purdue. Dating back to last season, Arizona is 17-4 when outrebounding the opposition.
Charitable Causes: The Wildcats have also done a good job of getting to the line, as the squad has made almost as many charity attempts (65) as the opposition has attempted (73). The Cats have also connected on 73 percent of its FT attempts.
An Indicator of Success: Opponent FG percentage has been a good indicator of success this season, as Arizona has held the opposition to less than 40% FG shooting in the three wins. In the lone loss, Purdue shot 51.9% from the floor.
A Shot in the Arm: Just as expected, Gene Edgerson has been a welcome addition to the UA roster. He is averaging 8.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in his four games back after redshirting last season. He is shooting 68.8 percent from the floor (11-of-16) and ranks second on the squad in rebounding. Edgerson has five steals to his credit and has been to the line 17 times.
Deadeye: Sophomore Jason Gardner has worked hard on improving his jump shooting and all of that work seems to be paying off as he leads the team with 13 treys and a 44.8 3-point FG percentage. In his last two games, Gardner is 9-for-17 (.529) from behind the arc.
On The Bench: After seeing action in all three games in the Maui Invitational, freshman Travis Hanour did not see action in the Purdue game. The guard averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in eight minutes over the three games in Maui.
He's Due: Richard Jefferson's 0-for-6 FG performance was an aberration. It marked just the third time in his 53-game career that he went scoreless. The only two other times he was shut out happened in the first two games back from his broken foot. Looking ahead, he did bounce back with 19 points vs. Stanford on 8-of-16 shooting after failing to score last season. On the positive side, he did match a season high with four assists in the Purdue game.
BENCH PRODUCTION: Arizona's bench players averaged 23.6 points per game at the Maui Invitational, almost 30 percent of the Wildcats' scoring in the three games. Gilbert Arenas and Gene Edgerson came off the bench in the first game to score 15 and 13, respectively, and Edgerson scored nine and five in the other two games. The reserves also had 43 rebounds, an average of 14.3 per game. Edgerson averaged 5.7 rpg, second on the team, in the tournament.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Michael Wright notched double-doubles in the first two games of the season with 15 points, 19 rebounds against Chaminade and 18 points, 13 rebounds versus Dayton. According to research by Stats, Inc., Wright is tied for sixth nationally with 27 career double-doubles. The top-10 is: 1. Kennedy Okafor, UMBC, 35; 2. Troy Murphy, Notre Dame, 34; 3. Kaspars Kambala, UNLV, 29; 4t. Isaac Spencer, Murray State, 28; 4t. Ricardo Greer, Pittsburgh, 28; 6t. Michael Wright, Arizona, 27; 6t. Jeryl Sasser, SMU, 27; 8. Mike Kouser, Drexel, 24; 9t. Darren Fenn, Canisus, 22; 9t. George Evans, George Mason, 22. Including the two wins this season, Arizona is 20-7 when Wright has a double-double.
MR. CLUTCH: Jason Gardner continued his solid free throw shooting in critical times. After making 7-of-8 from the line in the final 1:50 of Arizona's 79-76 win over Illinois, he dropped in both attempts in the final 2:30 vs. Purdue. Last year, Gardner made 83% (44-53) of his free throws in the final five minutes of games.
In Relief: Luke Walton continues to do a great job of producing off the bench. In the three-point loss to Purdue, Walton tallied nine points and equaled a career-high with eight rebounds. The sophomore hit 4-of-8 shots from the floor and added three assists, a block and a steal.
AWARD STAND: Two Wildcat players brought home personal hardware from the Maui Invitational, as Michael Wright and Jason Gardner were named to the all-tournament team. Wright was the MVP after averaging 16.3 ppg and 13.7 rpg in the three games. He set a tournament single-game record with 19 rebounds in the opener against Chaminade, which was also a career high. Gardner scored 25 in the final against Illinois and averaged 15.0 ppg in the tournament. His five 3-pointers in the final set a career best. The duo was also nearly perfect at the free throw line, as Wright hit 94.4% (17-for-18) of his attempts, and Gardner made 87.5% (14-for-16) of his.
STARTING AGAIN: With Loren Woods out for the first six games of the season, senior Justin Wessel has again stepped into the starting lineup at center. "The Weaze," as he is known to teammates and fans, started eight games last season and seven the year before in spot duty. In the first four games of this season, Wessel averaged 3.5 ppg and 3.8 rpg. Over the past three seasons, Arizona is 16-3 when Wessel starts.
NBA Update: With the NBA season underway, here is a list of former Wildcats currently on active rosters in the National Basketball Association: Mike Bibby (Vancouver), Jud Buechler (Detroit), Michael Dickerson (Vancouver), Sean Elliott (San Antonio), Steve Kerr (San Antonio), Chris Mills (Golden State), Sean Rooks (Los Angeles Clippers), Damon Stoudamire (Portland) and Jason Terry (Atlanta).
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.).
Wildcats on TV in 2000-01: Arizona will once again receive extensive television coverage, as 31 games are scheduled to be televised live in 2000-01. The schedule features 14 national appearances with seven games offered nationally on Fox Sports Net, four games slated for CBS-TV, four on ESPN and one on ABC-TV. Fox Sports Net Arizona will also produce 16 games to be shown in the Arizona market, including three appearances on Tucson's KWBA-TV 58.
Up Next: Arizona continues its week against the West Coast Conference on Saturday against St. Mary's College. The Dec. 2 contest is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Net Arizona.