Date: Saturday, Jan. 20, 2001 Time: 11:30 a.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan/Clark Kellogg)
Game Data: No. 17 Arizona (11-5, 4-1 Pac-10) makes its 10th appearance on national television this year as the squad hosts UCLA (10-4, 4-0 Pac-10) ... Arizona has held its last three opponents to an average of 57.7 points per game ... UA's current three-game win streak equals the squad's longest of the year ... The Cats have won seven of the last nine meetings against the Southern California schools, including three of four vs. the Bruins ... Loren Woods is 53 points shy of totaling 1,000 in his collegiate career ... Arizona is 8-2 this season when outrebounding the opposition.
The Rankings: UA rose to No. 17 in the current Associated Press poll and 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 101 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 228 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 622-222 (.737) and 430-130 (.768)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (239) 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 264-26 (.910) in McKale Center and have won 192 of its last 203 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 20-16 vs. UCLA.
Last Time Out: Arizona held its third straight opponent to less than 40 percent shooting and got solid play from all five of its starters in the 13-point win over USC. Richard Jefferson scored a team-high 18 points and Jason Gardner added 15 of his 17 in the second half to lead the UA offense. Gardner went 6-for-6 from the line in the last 1:22 to put the game out of reach. Loren Woods put the clamps on USC's Brian Scalabrine, holding him scoreless for the first time in his collegiate career.
Scouting UCLA: One of the Pac-10's hottest teams, UCLA enters play this morning with a 10-4 record (4-0 Pac-10), having won its last six games and eight of its last nine. Included in the string was a 91-83 win at Arizona State on Thursday. The Bruins average 82.1 points per game and shoot 45.7 percent from the floor as a team. Individually, Jason Kapono leads the team with an 18.7 ppg scoring average and shoots 44.9 percent from three-point range.
The Series: Today's game is the 58th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 35-23 series advantage. Arizona has won five of the last six meetings, and 20 of 35 dating back to the 1984 campaign. Last season, both teams won on its home court. Arizona is 14-8 in series games played in Tucson, 8-25 in Los Angeles and 1-2 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Using a six-man rotation, the Wildcats downed UCLA, 99-84 in McKale Center. Playing without their leading scorer and shot blocker, Loren Woods who was a pregame scratch because of a sore back all six available scholarship players stepped up and scored in double figures to help the UA shoot 51.7% from the floor and hit 33-of-39 free throws. Gilbert Arenas scored a team-high 23 points, while freshman backcourt mate Jason Gardner had the best game of his young career, scoring 16 points to go with a career-high 11 assists and seven steals. He was 4-of-8 from the three-point line and had only one turnover in 39 minutes of action. Michael Wright scored 22 points and Justin Wessel, who started for Woods, made up for the big man's absence by playing great defense on much bigger players and scoring 12 points (10-10 from the FT line) and grabbing four boards. The other two members of the six-man rotation were Luke Walton (11 points) and Rick Anderson, who came off the bench to score 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor.
Returning to the sidelines: Coach Lute Olson rejoined the program on Monday after taking a temporary leave of absence to support his late wife. Olson, who has been away from the program since Dec. 30, returned to practice after a 16-day absence. He missed five games in that period, during which the Wildcats went 3-2. Olson's wife, Bobbi, passed away on Jan. 1 after a two-and-a-half year battle with ovarian cancer. After discussions with his family, Olson decided the time was right to return to coaching. In terms of why now, said Olson, I talked it over with my family and told them that they needed to get back to their jobs and responsibilities, and they felt that I needed to do that as well.
Committing to Defense: Arizona's current three-game win streak has coincided with a nice three-game defensive effort. Arizona has held each of its last three opponents to less than 36 percent shooting. In that span, UA has limited opponents to 31.3 percent shooting (66-of-211). Arizona's effort on Thursday led to the first time this season that USC had been held to less than 40 percent from the season, and marked the third straight time that an opponent had posted a season-low FG percentage against the Wildcats.
SHUT OUT: Thanks to the Wildcats' interior defense, USC All-Pac-10 center Brian Scalabrine was held scoreless for the first time in his collegiate career on Thursday. Scalabrine was 0-8 from the field, 0-5 from behind the 3-point line in 36 minutes against the Wildcats.
MORE LIKE IT: Richard Jefferson scored 17 points, his most since he put in 20 against Mississippi State on Dec. 30, 2000, against USC. The 17 points broke a span of four-straight games that he scored under double-figures, and was also more than his last three games combined. Jefferson also tallied a game-high eight rebounds and seven assists, matching his season-high in each category.
STEPPING OUT: Jason Gardner has been on from behind the 3-point line of late. Against the Trojans, he hit 3-of-8, including two in the final 6:32 that propelled the Wildcat to the win. The sophomore is shooting a team-leading 42 percent (42-of-100) when he steps behind the arc this season.
Mr. Clutch: Jason Gardner has also been key when it comes to late-game free throws. Thursday vs. USC, he hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 1:22 to clinch the win. On the year, Gardner has been close to perfect from the line in those situations, connecting on 20-of-22 (.909) charity attempts in the game's final four minutes.
UP A NOTCH: After scoring a career-low two points against Butler on Dec. 28, 2000, Gilbert Arenas has scored in double-figures in six straight games. In the Wildcats' last three games (at Washington and Washington State, vs. USC), Arenas has averaged 19.3 points per game, scoring 22, 18 and 18, respectively. He is the team's second-leading scorer in Pac-10 play, averaging 16.8 points in five games. Arenas has also regained his outside touch in conference play, making 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from behind the arc.
Assisting the Cause: Richard Jefferson and Jason Gardner combined for 13 of the team's 18 assists in Thursday's win. The duo also combined for just two turnovers (in a combined 70 minutes) in the Cats' season-low 10 miscues. The +8 assist:turnover ratio was the team's best of the season. Incidentally, Arizona is 19-4 when Gardner collects at least five assists.
On a Run: In its win over USC, Arizona used several runs to hold off the Trojans. The largest spurt came in the first half when the Wildcats scored 11 straight points in a 4:03 span to go up 21-12 with 9:31 remaining. During the run, Michael Wright scored five of his 13 points. That was part of a 23-8 run over about 11 minutes of the first half. Before the run, USC had a 12-10 lead, its last of the game. In the sweep of the Washington schools last week, Arizona posted similar runs to take control of both games. In Thursday's win over WSU, Arizona posted a 23-4 run over the last 7:44 of the first half, while the Cats used a 27-9 run over 10:00 of the first half on Saturday at Washington.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of Wildcat success than the 80-point mark. This season, Arizona is 6-0 when scoring 80 points and 4-5 when it does not. Over the last three seasons, UA is 34-3 (.919) when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona has scored at least 80 points in its last two games.
Continuing his Climb: Michael Wright currently stands in 19th place on UA's career scoring list with 1,209 points. He scored 26 points at Washington to pass Coniel Norman (1973-74). Just ahead of Wright in 18th place is Ed Nymeyer (1956-58) with 1,225 points.
More On Mike: Wright currently leads the Wildcats with a 60.2 (97-of-161) field goal percentage. If he continues at this pace, he would become just the ninth player in UA history to post a single-season FG percentage of better than .600.
Four In Wins: Arizona is 7-2 this season when it places at least four players in double figures. Call it a testimony to scoring balance.
On the Glass: Over the last four games, Loren Woods is averaging 8.5 rebounds. He has grabbed no less than seven boards in any of those outings.
Toeing the Line: The Wildcats continues a season-long trend Thursday, as the squad connected on 12-of-13 (.923) free throw attempts vs. USC. In Pac-10 play, the Cats have made 75 percent (96-of-128) of its charity attempts. UA has converted 33 more free throws than the opposition in four league games.
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: The Cats have two games scheduled for next week, including a tilt with intra-state rival Arizona State on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will be seen on Fox Sports Net. Arizona then steps out of conference to face Texas next Saturday. That game will be televised nationally by ABC.