Game 20: No. 7 Arizona (14-5, 6-1) at Oregon (11-6, 2-5)
Date: Thursday, Feb. 1, 2001
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (TBA)
Game Data: No. 7 Arizona (14-5, 6-1 Pac-10) hits the road after four straight home games to face Oregon (11-6, 2-5 Pac-10) ... UA's current six-game win streak is the squad's longest of the year ... Dating back to 1989-90, Arizona is 18-4 vs. Oregon, but each of the defeats have come in Eugene ... The Wildcats are 1-1 in true road games this season, 4-2 in neutral-site games ... Loren Woods is 21 points shy of totaling 1,000 in his collegiate career ... Over the last six games, Arizona has outscored the opposition by an average of 22.5 points per game.
The Rankings: UA jumped to No. 7 in the current Associated Press poll and to No. 9 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 103 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 230 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 625-222 (.738) and 433-130 (.769)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (241) 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 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 267-26 (.911) in McKale Center and have won 195 of its last 206 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 27-7 vs. Oregon.
Last Time Out: Another solid defensive effort keyed Arizona's sixth straight win, as the Cats downed No. 20 Texas, 80-52. Arizona held Texas scoreless for more than seven minutes in the first half and used a 23-5 run over 7:22 of the second to build as much as a 29-point second half lead. UA's defense limited Texas to 31.4 percent shooting in the game, including just 30 percent after the break. Gilbert Arenas and Michael Wright led a balanced offensive attack, as both poured in 16 points.
Scouting Oregon: Oregon enters play this week with an 11-6 record (2-5 Pac-10) after Saturday's 98-88 loss at UCLA. The Ducks have lost five of its last six outings, but have a 7-1 record at McArthur Court. UO averages 82.9 points per game, second-best in the Pac-10, shoots .473 from the floor and posts a +2.5 rebound margin. Individually, the squad is led by Bryan Bracey, who averages 19.4 points and 6.9 rebounds.
The Series: Tonight's game is the 46th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 30-15 series advantage. Arizona has won the 17 of the last 20 meetings, but split a pair last year. UA won 77-71 in Tucson on Feb. 3, while Oregon captured the return trip in Eugene, 86-81 on March 4. Arizona is 20-3 in series games played in Tucson, 10-11 in Eugene and 0-1 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Arizona played superb basketball, but it was the final 12 minutes that did the Cats in and helped get them swept on the Oregon road trip for the first time in 10 seasons, when it was beaten by Oregon in Eugene, 86-81, on March 4, 2000. The Wildcats blew a 17-point second half lead when they were outscored by the Ducks 35-13 in the final 12:05 of the game and only made two field goals in the final 11:14 of the contest. Oregon shot well from the three-point line (8-17/.471), set an Arizona opponent free throw shooting record by making 24-of-25 attempts (.960) and became the first team to beat the UA when it had a lower field goal percentage than the Cats (.443/.509). Michael Wright scored a career-high 28 points and was 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Jason Gardner scored 22 points and Gilbert Arenas had 15.
On a Roll: For the second week in a row, Arenas led Arizona to a pair of wins by averaging 19.5 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 46.2 percent from the field. He opened the week with a game-high 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting Wednesday vs. Arizona State. He was 4-of-8 from behind the arc and added four boards and three assists. The sophomore then poured in a team-high 16 points in Saturday's win over No. 20 Texas. Arenas, who went 6-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-3 from three-point range, scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half as UA built as much as a 29-point lead in the 80-52 win. He raised his season average to 15.8 points, and has hit 45.1 percent of his field goal attempts.
Point Differential: In its current six-game win streak, Arizona has scored more than 80 points five times. In that span, the squad is averaging 83.0 points per game and limiting the opposition to an average of just 60.5 points, 7.2 points lower than the season average.
On the Glass: Arizona outrebounded its third straight opponent on Saturday, posting a 42-41 advantage over Texas. The Wildcats are 11-2 this season when outrebounding the opposition and carry a +5.4 rebound advantage, a figure that ranks third among Pac-10 teams.
FG Percentage Defense: The Arizona defense has held five of the last six opponents to less than 37 percent field goal shooting. Dating back to Jan. 11, the UA defense has limited the opposition to a combined 34.4 shooting percentage (143-of-416). Interestingly, four of those six opponents have posted its season-low field goal percentage vs. Arizona.
Increased Productivity: Point guard Jason Gardner posted four assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes of action vs. Texas. It was the second time this season that Gardner has played at least 30 minutes and committed zero turnovers. Against USC on Jan. 18, Gardner tallied six assists and no turnovers in 37 minutes. He currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with a 2.25 assist:turnover ratio.
Improved Play: Richard Jefferson put forth a solid effort vs. Texas, hitting 5-of-8 shots and grabbing a season-high nine boards, and finished with 13 points. In his last four games, Jefferson is averaging 6.3 rebounds per game.
Snapping Out of It: Michael Wright broke out of a mild slump on Saturday, as he hit 6-of-8 shots to tie for team-high honors with 16 points. He also grabbed nine boards in the effort. It was his best points/rebounds effort since garnering a double-double (26 points/10 boards) Jan. 13 at Washington. In the three games since, Wright averaged 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and shot .545 from the floor. Granted that's not much a slump, but it was 5.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.6 percent below his season averages.
Sub 60: The 52 points allowed to Texas on Saturday was the third-best defensive effort of the year. It was also the seventh time in 2000-01 that Arizona has held an opponent to 60 points or less.
Hitting the Big Shots: Jason Gardner must have a knack for hitting really important shots. In Saturday's win over Texas, Gardner answered a Texas trey with three seconds to go in the first half with one of his own from 47 feet at the buzzer. The long-range bucket gave the Cats a 10-point halftime lead, one that it would not relinquish. It was Gardner's second halftime buzzer-beater of the year, joining the one he hit vs. Dayton in Maui that also swung the game's momentum in an eventual UA victory.
Claiming the lead: On the heels of solid play since Pac-10 play began, Gilbert Arenas is now the team's leading scorer in league play at 18.4 ppg. In seven Pac-10 games, Arenas is shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range (20-of-44). He has been the team's leading scorer in four of seven conference games.
Making the Most of it: One player that has benefited from the recent six-game win streak is senior point guard John Ash. The player responsible for running the scout team in practice has seen action in five of the last six games and has made the most of it. In that span, he's scored six of his seven points on the year, and grabbed five of his seven rebounds.
On the Positive: Arizona has posted positive assist:turnover ratios in four of the last five games. Leading the way individually are sophomores Jason Gardner and Luke Walton. Gardner, who ranks second in the Pac-10, leads the team with a 2.25 ratio (81 assists/36 turnovers), while Walton checks in at 1.88 (62/33). Gardner and Walton are two of four Wildcat players with positive assist:turnover ratios. As a team, Arizona ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with a +1.05 assist:turnover ratio.
Stretch Run: When the calendar turns to February, the games seemingly become more important, as teams battle for conference championships. Historically, Arizona has been very good in the month of February, as the Cats have a 31-8 (.795) record over the past five seasons. Last year, UA was 7-0 in February.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of Wildcat success than the 80-point mark. This season, Arizona is 9-0 when scoring 80 points and 5-5 when it does not. Over the last three seasons, UA is 37-3 (.925) when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona has scored at least 80 points in five of its last six games.
Continuing his Climb: Michael Wright currently stands in 18th place on UA's career scoring list with 1,244 points. Just ahead of Wright in 17th place is Linc Richmond (1943-49) with 1,246 points.
In Double Figures: In Saturday's win, Richard Jefferson scored in double figures for the 40th time in his career. That ranks third among active UA players. He also has 10 double-figure efforts this season.
Vs. Ranked Opponents: The win over Texas evened UA's season record against ranked opponents to 3-3. UA has won its last two against nationally-ranked opponents.
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.
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.
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.
Up Next: UA concludes the roadtrip along the Oregon Trail with a Saturday evening tilt at Oregon State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST. Following that game, the Cats return home Feb. 8 to take on Washington.