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Men's Basketball NCAA Midwest Regional Notes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 19, 2001
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    No. 2 Seed Arizona (25-7) at 2001 NCAA Midwest Regional

    Date: Friday, March 23, 2001

    Time: 6:55 p.m. CST

    Location: Alamodome (40,509), San Antonio, Texas

    Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

    TV: CBS (Dick Enberg/Bill Walton)

    Game Data: Fifth-ranked Arizona (25-7, 15-3 Pac-10) carries its No. 2 seed to the 2001 NCAA Midwest Regional in San Antonio ... The Wildcats face No. 3 seed Mississippi (27-7, 11-5 SEC) in the regional semifinal ... Arizona has a 29-18 (.617) record its 20 tournament appearances ... Arizona is 12-3 this season against the 2001 NCAA Tournament field ... This marks Arizona’s ninth Sweet 16 appearance and its first since 1998 . . . In UA’s 47 previous NCAA Tournament games, none have been played in the state of Texas.

    The Rankings: UA rose to No. 5 in the March 12 Associated Press poll and to No. 4 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 109 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak in the nation. The Cats have been ranked in 236 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 636-224 (.740) and 444-132 (.771)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (250) 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 in the 1990s... He has led Arizona to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 23 overall in his career, making him one of only six head coaches in NCAA history to record 23 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 271-26 (.912) in McKale Center and have won 199 of its last 210 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 34-21 in 22 career NCAA appearances, including a 27-15 mark at Arizona. He is 0-0 vs. Mississippi.

    Last Time Out: A Jason Gardner trey with 3:10 to go in the first half ignited an 11-2 UA run to close the half and propel UA to the 73-52 win over Butler on March 18. The run erased a five-point deficit and put the Wildcats in the lead for good. The UA defense held Butler scoreless for 6:48 of the second half and limited the Bulldogs to .389 FG shooting. Gilbert Arenas led Arizona with 15 points and was one of four Wildcat players to finish in double figures.

    Scouting Mississippi: The Rebels (27-7) enter the Midwest Regional having won five of its last six games, including NCAA Tournament victories over Iona (72-70) and Notre Dame (59-56). As a team, Ole Miss averages 71.2 points per game and limits opponents to 64.4 points and .419 field goal shooting. Individually, the team is led by senior forward Rahim Lockhart, who averages 13.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

    The Series: Friday’s game is the second meeting of the two schools with Mississippi holding a 1-0 series advantage. The Rebels captured the only previous meeting, a 75-70 decision in the first round of the Memphis Tournament during the 1952-53 season. All-time, Arizona is 10-19 against Southeastern Conference schools.

    Sweet 16: 2001 marks Arizona’s fifth regional semifinal appearance in the last 10 years. The Cats are one of eight schools to have as many as five Sweet 16 berths in the last 10 years (1992-2001). Each team’s best finish is also listed below:

    1. Kentucky, 8 - National Champions 1996, 1998

    2. North Carolina, 6 - National Champions 1993

    Kansas, 6 - Final Four 1993

    Duke, 6 - National Champions 1992

    UCLA, 6 - National Champions 1995

    6. Arizona, 5 - National Champions 1997

    Maryland, 5 - Regional Semifinal 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001

    Connecticut, 5 - National Champions 1999

    All-America: Arizona forward Michael Wright was named a third team All-American in voting released March 13 by the Associated Press. Wright, a 6-foot-7, 238-pound junior from Chicago, Ill., earned the honor after averaging 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting .591 from the field in the regular season. He is the Pac-10 active leader with 33 double-doubles, and Wright is a finalist for both the Wooden and Naismith Player-of-the-Year Awards. He was a first team all-Pacific-10 Conference pick this year. Wright was also an Honorable Mention AP All-America selection last season.

    Streaking: Arizona’s current eight-game win streak is the team’s longest of the season. The program’s 17-year tournament streak is the second-longest active streak behind North Carolina’s 27.

    Getting Defensive: As it was during the regular season, defense was key in Arizona’s two NCAA Tournament victories. The Cats limited Eastern Illinois and Butler to a combined average of 64.0 points, 1.8 points less than the regular season average, and held each to less than 39 percent shooting. In 32 games this season, Arizona has held 17 opponents to less than 40 percent shooting.

    Being Active: The Cats have also picked it up in the postseason defensive statistical categories, totaling 17 steals and 15 blocks. UA’s averages of 8.5 steals and 7.5 blocks are higher than its season averages of 7.78 steals and 4.13 blocks. Jason Gardner leads the team with five postseason pilfers, while Loren Woods leads with seven blocked shots.

    On the Side: Just how important is Lute Olson’s presence on the sidelines to this team? Since Olson returned to the squad on Jan. 15, UA has been one of the nation’s hottest teams winning 15 of 17 games. Incidentally, Arizona won the last two games under Rosborough’s direction, making it 17 wins in the last 19 starts.

    All-Conference: Arizona’s Michael Wright and Gilbert Arenas were named all-Pacific-10 Conference Monday in voting done by the league’s coaches. For Wright, it was the second consecutive year in which he’s earned all-Pac-10 accolades and the first for Arenas. Arenas was an all-freshman pick last season.

    Board Meeting: Led by Luke Walton, who posted his second double-figure rebounding game of the year wit 10 vs. Butler, Arizona outrebounded the Bulldogs, 39-20. In the postseason, Arizona boasts a +15.5 rebound margin. On the year, UA has outrebounded 13 opponents by 10 or more.

    On Target: The Wildcats have also found the range in the postseason, shooting a combined .558 percent (67-of-120) from the floor in the two wins. That is 7.8 percent higher than its season field goal percentage. Thirty-five of the team’s 67 postseason field goals have been either layups or dunks. On the season, Arizona is 13-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

    After the Break: The UA defense has been especially good in the second half, limiting Eastern Illinois and Butler to a combined 24-of-68 (.353) shooting after the halftime break. At one point of the second half against Butler, Arizona held the Bulldogs scoreless for 6:48, forcing eight missed shots and five turnovers in that span.

    At the Point: Jason Gardner finished the regular season with a team-leading 132 assists and a 2.49 assist:turnover ratio. While his scoring numbers are down slightly this season (10.6 in 2001 vs. 12.6 in 2000), Gardner’s decision making has improved greatly. He has 40 fewer turnovers and his assist:turnover ratio is 0.75 higher this season. He’s posted five games in 2000-01 with 20+ minutes and zero turnovers. In his career, UA is 23-5 when Gardner collects at least five assists.

    Spreading the Wealth: It’s been a balanced offensive attack that has keyed UA’s tournament success. In each of Arizona’s wins, at least four players have finished in double figures. After scoring 21 in the NCAA opener, sophomore Gilbert Arenas added a team-high 15 vs. Butler. The balance hasn’t hurt the Wildcats’ productivity, as the team is averaging 87.0 point per game in the postseason and is the only club to have scored 100 points in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

    Reaching 1,000: Gilbert Arenas enters play today with 1,054 career points in less than two seasons. He became just the sixth player in school history to score 1,000 career points by the end of his sophomore season. Here are the others: 1. Coniel “Popcorn” Norman (1972-74) 1,194; 2. Bob Elliott (1973-75) 1,106; 3. Sean Elliott (1985-87) 1,077; 4. Mike Bibby (1996-98) 1,061; 5. Chris Mills* (1988-91) 1,004. *Mills scored 459 points as a freshman at the University of Kentucky in 1988-89 before transferring to Arizona.

    In the Paint: Arizona has used its inside strength to great advantage in its last two wins. One hundred of the team’s 174 points (.574) have been scored in the paint. In two tournament contests, UA has a 100-50 advantage when it comes to points in the paint.

    Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of Wildcat success than the 80-point mark. This season, Arizona is 15-0 when scoring 80 points and 10-7 when it does not. Over the last three seasons, UA is 43-3 (.935) when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 18-4 (.818) in the NCAA Tournament when scoring 80 points since 1985.

    Continuing his Climb: Michael Wright currently stands in 13th place on UA's career scoring list with 1,454 points. Just ahead of Wright in 12th place is Jason Terry (1996-99) with 1,461 points.

    Accepting Charity: UA has also done a good job of getting to the free throw line, posting a 34-15 free throw advantage in the last two games. The Wildcats have made 14 more free throws than the opponents have attempted in the postseason. This year, Arizona has made 25 more charity tosses (617) than opponents have attempted (592). The team makes an average of 6.8 more free throws per game than the opposition.

    Select Company: The trio of Michael Wright (1,454 points), Loren Woods (1,121) and Gilbert Arenas (1,054) have each totaled 1,000 career points. It is the third time in school history that Arizona has had three active 1,000-point scorers on the same roster. Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr and Craig McMillan first accomplished the feat in 1988, while Miles Simon, Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson matched it in 1998.

    Changing “Mo”: Trailing 24-19 with 3:48 remaining in the first half against Butler, UA used an 11-2 run to close the first half with a 30-26 lead. Jason Gardner scored five points in the run, including a key trey that got it started. He finished with 12 points in the contest, his second double-figure effort in the last eight games.

    On Display: Center Loren Woods has displayed his versatility early in this tournament. Not only is he averaging 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks, but he actually leads the team with seven postseason assists. Against Butler, Woods passed out a game-high four assists. Woods passed out at least four assists in a game eight times this season.

    All-Around Game: UA’s resident boxscore filler Luke Walton put forth another quality effort on March 18 vs. Butler, totaling eight points, a game-high 10 boards, a season-high two blocks and two assists. On the season he ranks second on the team in assists (108) and third in steals (37) and blocks (11).

    Making It Count: Senior guard Lamont Frazier made only one appearance in Kansas City, but he made it count. The Los Angeles native hit all four field goal attempts to finish with a career-high nine points against Eastern Illinois. He also added two boards and an assist vs. the Panthers.

    Catalyst: Senior Eugene Edgerson definitely infused some energy during last week’s NCAA appearances. His physical presence was the difference vs. Eastern Illinois as he equaled a season high with 13 points (5-of-7 FG) to go with seven rebounds and a steal. His steal and dunk at the 12:57 mark of the first half gave UA a lead it would not relinquish and completely swung the momentum in the Cats favor. He added four points and six boards in just 10 minutes vs. Butler.

    Quite a Quintet: UA starters (Wright, Jefferson, Woods, Arenas, Gardner) are shooting a combined 52-of-92 (.565) from the floor in the postseason. Four of the five starters are shooting better than 54 percent from the floor in the NCAA Tournament. In his four-game NCAA Tournament career, Gilbert Arenas is averaging 18.3 points and shooting .500 from the floor. Incidentally, two of Arizona’s top five shooting games of the season have come in the postseason.

    Against the Best: Mississippi will be the 10th ranked opponent to face Arizona this season. The Wildcats are 5-4 in those games and have won four of the last five.

    Picking It Up: Loren Woods, the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots, has picked up his all-around game of late. Over his last five games, Woods is averaging 15.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He’s also hit 31-of-53 (.585) FG attempts. He’s now shooting better than 50 percent from the floor (.502) for the season.

    Mr. Consistency: Junior forward Michael Wright has been Arizona’s most consistent player all season. The Chicago native leads the team in rebounding (8.1), field goal percentage (.596) and ranks second in scoring (16.4). He has eight double-doubles this season and leads all active Pac-10 players with 33 in his three-year career.

    Role Player: Senior forward Justin Wessel is one of the nation’s finest role players. Featuring the ability to play inside or out, Wessel is equally effective as a starter or coming off the bench. Arizona is 17-3 in Wessel’s career when he starts.

    Tournament Success: The senior trio of John Ash, Eugene Edgerson and Justin Wessel has quite a bit of NCAA tourney success under its collective belt. The last link to UA’s 1997 National Championship team, the group is 12-3 in NCAA Tournament play.

    Fast Starts: Getting off to a good start is key for the Wildcats, as the team is 22-1 when leading at the half. Arizona averages 38.3 points per game in the first half and holds the opposition to an average of 30.2 points. After getting a first-half lead, Arizona actually increases the point production in the second half. UA averages 43.4 points after the break and outscores the opposition by 8.1 points.

    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.

    Tickets Anyone?: One Arizona player already has his ticket punched for the Final Four. Freshman walk-on Jason Ranne, who doesn’t normally travel with the team, was lucky enough to win tickets to the Final Four in the University’s open student lottery. There is one catch, though. To actually collect the ducats in Minneapolis, Ranne and the Wildcats will have to earn the berth on the court.

    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.

    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.

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