Game 16: No. 17 Arizona (10-5, 3-1) vs. No. 24 USC (12-3, 2-1)
Date: Thursday, Jan. 18, 2001 Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: 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: No. 17 Arizona (10-5, 3-1 Pac-10) returns home in hopes of extending its Pac-10 win streak to three games as the squad hosts No. 24 USC (12-3, 2-1 Pac-10) ... The Cats are averaging 86.5 points in its last two games, its best back-to-back offensive output in nine games ... UA has won six of the last eight meetings against the Southern California schools ... Arizona has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in three of its last four halves of basketball ... Beginning tonight, six of Arizona's next eight games are at McKale Center.
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 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 28-9 vs. USC.
Last Time Out: Loren Woods registered the fifth triple-double in school history and Michael Wright added a double-double to lead the Cats to the 25-point win. UA used a 27-9 run over 10:00 of the first half to take control of the contest. Woods (13 pts./10 reb./10 blk.) and Wright (26 pts./10 reb.) combined to hit 13-of-22 shots in the effort. The Cats held Washington to just a 28.6 field goal percentage.
Scouting USC: The Trojans enter tonight's game with a 12-3 record (2-1 Pac-10) after last Thursday's 80-75 loss at UCLA. After opening the season with eight straight wins, USC is 4-3 in its last seven outings. As a team, USC averages 82.0 points per game and is outrebounding the opposition by a +2.4 margin. Individually, Sam Clancy is one of four Trojans averaging in double figures at 18.1 ppg. David Bluthenthal leads the team with an 8.1 rebounds per game average.
The Series: Tonight's game is the 74th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 42-31 series advantage. Arizona has won five of the last seven meetings, and 25 of 30 dating back to the 1986 campaign. Last season, both team won on its home court. Arizona is 26-14 in series games played in Tucson, 15-17 in Los Angeles and 1-0 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: All five Arizona starters scored in double figures and they accounted for all but two of the Wildcats points in a hard fought 92-85 win over USC. Except for a 2-0 lead, the fourth-ranked Wildcats trailed throughout the first half as USC shot 64.3% from the field (18-28) and staked a 43-39 halftime lead. Three consecutive three-pointers to begin the second half helped Arizona go up 48-43 and it would be a lead the Cats would never relinquish although the Trojans cut the deficit to two points on nine separate occasions over the course of the next eight minutes. The UA eventually built an 83-73 lead with 4:45 left to go, but USC would reduce the deficit to 88-85 with 34 seconds left and had a chance to tie the game, but Jeff Trepagnier missed a three pointer and the UA's Michael Wright grabbed the rebound to help the Cats go on to the win. Gilbert Arenas scored a team-high 21 points, while Wright had his ninth double-double of the season with 20 points (8-11 FGA) and a season-high 14 rebounds.
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.
Leading the Pac: Loren Woods led Arizona to a pair of wins last week by registering a double-double on Thursday and following that with a triple-double on Saturday. For the week, Woods averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from the field and 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the line. He opened the week by posting his first double-double of the season at Washington State with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go with five blocks. He was 5-of-8 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the line and added two assists in the win. He followed that performance with his second career triple-double in the win at Washington by totaling 13 points, 10 boards and 10 blocks. He hit 4-of-6 shots from the floor and 5-of-6 from the line.
Statistical Rarity: As mentioned above, Loren Woods' triple-double was the second of his career. It was also the fifth in Arizona history and the 13th in Pac-10 history. Woods is the first Arizona player to notch two triple-doubles and just the second Pac-10 player (Jason Kidd, four career) to accomplish the feat. The triple-double is a rare feet, indeed. Statistically speaking, a triple-double occurs in the Pac-10 roughly every 323 games played by league members since 1985 (0.3%).
Doubling up: In addition to Loren Woods' triple-double at Washington, Michael Wright added his fourth double-double of the year with 26 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday. The double-double was also the 29th of his career. Incidentally, six of his 10 boards vs. Washington were on the offensive glass.
Searching for Positives: Although his streak of 24 games with at least one trey came to an end on Saturday, Jason Gardner was able to contribute in other ways. He tallied season highs of seven assists and five steals to go with four rebounds and the third blocked shot of his career. Incidentally, Arizona is 17-4 when Gardner tallies at least five assists in a game.
A Rarity: In Thursday's win over Washington State, Gilbert Arenas set a school record for 3-point FG percentage by connecting on a perfect 6-of-6 three-point attempts. The six treys were a career high for Arenas.
Making a Run: 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.
Getting Defensive: The Wildcats held both Washington schools to less than 30 percent shooting. The effort marked the second and third times this season that UA has held an opponent to less than 30 percent FG shooting.
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 moved into 19th place on UA's career scoring list last weekend with 1,196 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.
Dubious Distinction: Arizona has lost two of its last three games at McKale Center with both of the loses coming in a seven-day-span (Dec. 30-Jan. 6). It is the first time since the 1983-84 season (Lute Olson's first at Arizona) that the Wildcats have lost two home games in a seven-day period, when the squad actually lost three (Jan. 7, 61-58 to UCLA; Jan. 12, 55-53 to Washington; Jan. 14, 51-49 to Washington State).
Reversal of fortune: Arizona's nine-point loss to Stanford on Jan. 6 equaled the third-worst home loss for the Cats since 1983-84. Here is the list: 12 - Tennessee 61, Arizona 49, Dec. 23, 1983
10 - UCLA 71, Arizona 61, Jan. 19, 1995
9 - Syracuse 79, Arizona 70, Dec. 23, 1995
9 - Stanford 85, UA 76, Jan. 6, 2001
Getting to the Line: Arizona attempted a season-high 47 free throws in the win over Washington (made 30), the second-highest total in the Pac-10 this year, and five shy of a school record. The last time the Cats attempted that may free throws in a game occurred March 4, 1999, in an 88-73 win over USC in McKale Center, when UA made 35-of-48 charity attempts.
Rapid Rise: Led by Loren Woods' 15 blocked shots last week, Arizona tallied a total of 20 swats in two games last week. The preponderance of blocks moved the team from fifth to second in the Pac-10 statistical rankings at 4.40 blocks per game.
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 34.8 points and 14.3 rebounds. The duo is shooting .627 from the floor and .875 from the line. They are Midseason Top-30 selections for the Wooden Award.
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: Following tonight's contest, the Wildcats will host UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 20. The game will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. MST and be seen nationally on CBS-TV. It is the second of four consecutive home dates for Arizona.