Game 14: No. 21 Arizona (8-5, 1-1) at Washington State (6-5, 0-2)
Date: Thursday, Jan. 11, 2001
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Spokane Arena (12,210), Spokane, Wash.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: KWBA-TV (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: After an emotional week, the Cats focus on two key league games in Washington state ... No. 21 Arizona (8-5, 1-1 Pac-10) hits the road for the first time in 26 days, and the only time in January, to take on Washington State (6-5, 0-2 Pac-10) at the Spokane Arena ... Yet another neutral-site game awaits the Wildcats in Spokane, its sixth of the season ... Interestingly, UA has played just one true road game this season (Connecticut) ... This is Arizona's second trip to the Spokane Arena, as UA defeated WSU, 94-81, on Jan. 8, 1998.
The Rankings: UA slipped to No. 21 in the current Associated Press poll and to No. 20 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 100 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 227 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 621-222 (.737) and 429-130 (.767)... 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 263-26 (.910) in McKale Center and have won 191 of its last 202 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 33-2 vs. Washington St.
Last Time Out: Second-ranked Stanford had an answer for every Arizona challenge, as the Cardinal picked up an 85-76 win last Saturday. Five key points just before the halftime buzzer stretched the Stanford lead to 10 points at the break, a lead that would not fall below seven in the second half. Stanford outrebounded Arizona, 42-32, and held a 26-16 advantage from the line. It was Stanford's first win at McKale Center since 1996. Loren Woods led four UA players in double figures with 16 points.
Scouting Washington State: The Cougars (6-5, 0-2) enter tonight's game with an 0-2 Pac-10 mark after dropping a 75-57 decision at UCLA last Saturday. Prior to league play, WSU had won four of its last five games. As a team, the Cougars are averaging 69.4 points per game and are shooting just 42.7 percent from the floor. Individually, the team is led by junior Mike Bush, who averages 18.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 36.7 minutes per game.
The Series: Tonight's game is the 48th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 37-10 series advantage. Arizona has won the last 30 meetings, dating back to the 1986 campaign. Last season, Arizona prevailed 80-75 in Tucson and 73-50 in Pullman. Arizona is 18-5 in series games played in Tucson, 16-5 in Pullman and 3-0 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Arizona shot a season-best 60.8% from the floor and beat Washington State, 73-50, in Pullman on Feb. 12, 2000. Gilbert Arenas was excellent, as he tied a then-career-high with 24 points and was 11-of-14 from the floor to help pace the Cats in their 30th consecutive victory over the Cougars. Michael Wright was solid as well, scoring 19 points (8-12 FGA) to go with eight rebounds, while Loren Woods had 10 points, five blocks and four rebounds before getting the chance to rest a sore back. Arizona established the tone from the outset, racing to a 39-19 lead at halftime and eventually building a 30-point lead in the second half. UA committed only six fouls, tying the school record for fewest fouls in a game that had been in existence since 1964.
Taking Over: It was announced prior to the Dec. 30 game with Mississippi State that coach Lute Olson would take an immediate leave of absence from the program in order to spend quality time with his wife, Bobbi. Associate head coach Jim Rosborough assumed temporary leadership of the program for an indefinite period of time. Rosborough has more than 21 seasons of experience as an assistant under Lute Olson and was a head coach for three seasons (1986-89) at Northern Illinois University, where he compiled a 28-56 (.333) record in that span. He is 1-2 since taking over for Coach Olson.
Leading the Way: In two games last week, Wright posted averages of 21.0 points and 4.5 rebounds. The junior equaled a career high with 28 points in Thursday's win over California. Against the Golden Bears, Wright hit 11-of-13 FG attempts, grabbed eight boards and added a season-high two steals. He came back with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the nine-point loss to No. 2 Stanford. On the year, he is averaging a team-leading 17.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a .611 FG percentage.
Off the Bench, Part I: Luke Walton continues to be a productive force for the Cats. The San Diego native collected nine points, six boards and four assists Saturday against Stanford. He leads the team with 21 steals, ranks second with 48 assists and ranks fourth with a 4.6 rebound average.
Off the Bench, Part II: Senior Eugene Edgerson may have only played nine minutes vs. Stanford, but it certainly was productive. Edgerson scored four points (2-of-3 FG) and grabbed six boards in those nine minutes. The rebound total was nearly two higher than his season average.
Searching for Positives: In Saturday's loss, Arizona committed a season-low 10 turnovers. It was the seventh time this year that the team posted a positive assist:turnover ratio and the Cats' +4 turnover margin was its third-best effort this year.
A Rarity: Saturday's loss was the first of the year for Arizona when outshooting the opposition. Despite holding Stanford to 43 percent shooting last Saturday and outshooting the Cardinal, .459-.433, UA lost for the first time in seven games when posting a better shooting percentage than the opposition.
Improvement: Led by Michael Wright's 70.8 field goal percentage, Arizona has a .495 team field goal percentage in Pacific-10 Conference play. That figure is 2.7 percent higher that its season FG percentage of .468. Five UA players are shooting better than 50 percent in league play (Wright, Woods, Edgerson, Walton, Gardner).
Good Starts are Key: While the Cats have managed to turn it up in the second half of late, getting off to a good start has proven to be essential. To date this season, Arizona is 7-1 when leading at halftime and 1-4 when tied or trailing.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of Wildcat success than the 80-point mark. This season, Arizona is 4-0 when scoring 80 points and 4-5 when it does not. Over the last three seasons, UA is 32-3 (.914) when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona has scored at least 80 points in seven of the last eight meetings against Washington State.
Second Half Shooting: In each of UA's Pac-10 games, the club has shot 50 percent form the floor in the second half. Cumulatively, Arizona is 27-of-54 from the floor in those games. Against Stanford, Loren Woods and Jason Gardner combined to score 22 of their 28 points in the second half. The duo connected on 9-of-10 second-half shots vs. the Cardinal.
It's Nice Up Here: Maybe a trip to eastern Washington is just what Gilbert Arenas needs to break out of his recent shooting slump. Last year at WSU, Arenas posted one of his best all-around games, as he hit 11-of-13 FG attempts, including two treys, to go with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. At the time, his 24 points equaled a career high.
Continuing his Climb: With 14 points on Saturday, Michael Wright moved into 23rd place on UA's career scoring list with 1,153 points. Just ahead of Wright at the moment in 22nd place is Hernam Harris (1974-77) who totaled 1,158 career points.
Getting to the Line: While he has struggled lately from the floor (.292 FG% in Pac-10 play), Glibert Arenas continues to find a way to contribute offensively. Against Stanford, Arenas hit a season-high six free throws in nine attempts. In Pac-10 play, he leads Arizona with 10 free throws in 15 attempts.
Pulling Up: Jason Gardner has at least one trey in 23 straight games dating back to last year. He leads the team with 36 treys and a 44.4 3-point FG percentage, a figure that ranks eighth in the Pac-10.
In Combination: The forward-center combination of Michael Wright and Loren Woods has been a productive one. In league play, Wright and Woods have combined to average 33.0 points and 10.0 rebounds. The duo has made 28-of-42 (.667) field goal attempts. They are also Midseason Top-30 selections for the John R. Wooden Award.
Neutral-site Accuracy: As Arizona prepares for its sixth neutral-site game of the year, look for field goal percentage to be the deciding factor. In earning a 3-2 record on neutral courts, Arizona has won all three games in which it has out-shot the opposition and lost the two that it hasn't.
League Leader: Despite posting its worst effort from the line in five games (16-of-24/.667 vs. Stanford), Arizona still leads the league in free throw percentage at .739 (244-of-330).
Held in Check: Michael Wright was limited to just one rebound in Saturday's loss to Stanford. It was just the second time in his career that he has tallied only one board. Coincidentally, both have happened against the Cardinal, as Stanford limited Wright to one rebound on Jan. 28, 1999, in his freshman year. In his 76-game career, Wright is averaging 8.7 rebounds per game.
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.
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.
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 two-game road swing through Washington state continues on Saturday, Jan. 13, when UA takes on Washington. Tip-of in Seattle is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Net Arizona.