Game 4: No. 1 Arizona (3-0) at Purdue (0-1)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 25, 2000 Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
Location: Conseco Fieldhouse (17,339), Indianapolis, Ind.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Game Data: Arizona (3-0) plays its first game on the mainland after winning the Maui Invitational on Wednesday ... The squad continues its marathon roadtrip to start the season against Purdue (0-1) Saturday as part of the inaugural Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis ... It marks the Cats' first trip to Indy since winning the 1997 National Championship at the RCA Dome ... UA is 23-22 all-time against the Big 10 Conference.
The Rankings: UA carries the nation's No. 1 ranking into the contest, as the Cats are on top of the current Associated Press poll. The Cats slipped to the No. 2 spot in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Arizona was the top-ranked team in eight preseason basketball polls (AP, ESPN/USA Today Coaches, Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, CBS/Sportsline, Athlon Sports). The opening game of this doubleheader also features two ranked squads, No. 14 Notre Dame (2-0) vs. No. 16 Cincinnati (2-0).
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 617-219 (.738) and 425-127 (.770)... 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 259-26 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 187 of their last 198 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner. Olson is 9-12 vs. Purdue.
Last Time Out: Arizona withstood a furious Illinois comeback in the game's final 1:39, as the Illini used a 14-2 run to cut a 12-point UA lead to just one with 12 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Jason Gardner, who finished with a career-high 25 points, and a blocked shot by Luke Walton in the final seconds sealed the win for the Wildcats. Arizona had built as much as a 15-point lead prior to Illinois' final push. Michael Wright earned tournament MVP honors after his 16-point, nine-rebound effort.
Scouting Purdue: The Boilermakers enter play this afternoon with an 0-1 record after Tuesday's 67-66 loss to Central Michigan in West Lafayette. Purdue shot just 35.4 percent from the floor in the game and was outrebounded, 41-37, in the loss. Rodney Smith (17) and Carson Cunningham (13) each finished in double figures for the Boilers. The squad returned just two starters and six letterwinners from last year's 24-10 team.
The Series: This is the ninth meeting of the two schools with the series tied at four wins apiece. It is the first meeting since Dec. 30, 1989, when Arizona defeated Purdue, 85-66 in the championship game of the Valley Bank Fiesta Classic in Tucson. The two schools first met in 1934.
Quite a Trip: When this season-opening roadtrip finally comes to an end, the Wildcats will have traveled a total of 9,192 miles from Tucson to Lahaina, Hawaii, to Indianapolis and back to Tucson.
Call them favorites: In the Pac-10 Conference's annual poll of media members, the Arizona Wildcats were a unanimous choice to finish first in the 2000-01 men's basketball race (see poll at left). Arizona received all 29 first place votes and 290 points overall to finish ahead of runner-up Stanford. In the last 11 years, the preseason winner of the poll has won or shared the actual league title nine times. UA has been the preseason favorite six other times.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: The adage proved true at the Maui Invitational, as the Wildcats held Chaminade, Dayton and Illinois to 35.1% (67-for-191) from the field en route to the tournament title. The three teams shot only 30% (21-for-70) from behind the 3-point line. Arizona also had 22 steals and 11 blocks in the tournament.
KINDERGARTEN COP: Gene Edgerson returned to regular-season action for the first time since the 1998-99 season after taking last year off to complete degree requirements as a student teacher in a kindergarten class. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior was back to his old, physical self in the first three games of the season. He muscled his way for 17 rebounds (5.7 rpg), and averaged 9.0 points per game at the Maui Invitational. He shot 66.7% (10-for-15) from the field and eight of his rebounds came on the offensive glass.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Three freshmen saw their first collegiate playing time against Chaminade at the Maui Invitational. True freshmen Travis Hanour and Jason Ranne and redshirt freshman Mike Schwertley all got into the game against the Silverswords. Hanour then played in the other two games, averaging 8.0 minutes per game. He was a solid contributor off the bench, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds.
BENCH PRODUCTION: Arizona's bench players averaged 23.6 points per game at the Maui Invitational, almost 30 percent of the Wildcats' scoring in the three games. Gilbert Arenas and Gene Edgerson came off the bench in the first game to score 15 and 13, respectively, and Edgerson scored nine and five in the other two games. The reserves also had 43 rebounds, an average of 14.3 per game. Edgerson averaged 5.7 rpg, second on the team, in the tournament.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Michael Wright notched double-doubles in the first two games of the season with 15 points, 19 rebounds against Chaminade and 18 points, 13 rebounds versus Dayton. According to research by Stats, Inc., Wright is tied for sixth nationally with 27 career double-doubles. The top-10 is: 1. Kennedy Okafor, UMBC, 35; 2. Troy Murphy, Notre Dame, 34; 3. Kaspars Kambala, UNLV, 29; 4t. Isaac Spencer, Murray State, 28; 4t. Ricardo Greer, Pittsburgh, 28; 6t. Michael Wright, Arizona, 27; 6t. Jeryl Sasser, SMU, 27; 8. Mike Kouser, Drexel, 24; 9t. Darren Fenn, Canisus, 22; 9t. George Evans, George Mason, 22. Including the two wins this season, Arizona is 20-7 when Wright has a double-double.
LIFTING OFF: Richard Jefferson's dunks have made the jobs of highlight-film editors easier since his arrival in Tucson, and this year appears to be no different. If anything, the rest of his game has become more well-rounded, as his shooting percentage is up to 52.8% (19-for-36), and he made 4-of-8 from 3-point range in the first three games. Jefferson also leads the team in assists and blocked shots with 10 and five, respectively, through the first three games of the season.
RIDING THE BOARDS: Arizona outrebounded its opponents by an average of 9.3 rpg in the first three games of the season. Led by Michael Wright's 13.7 rpg, the Wildcats averaged 46.3 rpg, up almost 8.0 rpg from last season. The Wildcats grabbed 57 rebounds against Chaminade, the most Arizona has had since it had 59 against Robert Morris Dec. 28, 1996.
MR. CLUTCH: Jason Gardner continued his solid free throw shooting in critical times against Illinois, making 7-of-8 from the line in the final 1:50 of Arizona's 79-76 win. Last year, Gardner made 83% (44-53) of his free throws in the final five minutes of games.
CHARITY STRIPE ADVANTAGE: Arizona made 51-of-70 free throws in its first three games, led by the two players who were at the line the most. Michael Wright sunk 17-of-18 (94.4%) and Jason Gardner cashed in on 14-of-16 (87.5%).
AWARD STAND: Two Wildcat players brought home personal hardware from the Maui Invitational, as Michael Wright and Jason Gardner were named to the all-tournament team. Wright was the MVP after averaging 16.3 ppg and 13.7 rpg in the three games. He set a tournament single-game record with 19 rebounds in the opener against Chaminade, which was also a career high. Gardner scored 25 in the final against Illinois and averaged 15.0 ppg in the tournament. His five 3-pointers in the final set a career best. The duo was also nearly perfect at the free throw line, as Wright hit 94.4% (17-for-18) of his attempts, and Gardner made 87.5% (14-for-16) of his.
What's Returning in 2000-01: The Arizona roster is once again loaded this season... The only player lost from 1999-00 is Josh Pastner (and he's on the bench as an undergraduate assistant)... In all, Arizona returns 99.3% of its scoring from this past season players who accounted for 2,582 of the team's 2,599 points and 99.7% of the rebounding from this past year 891 of the 894 boards... The 2000-01 roster includes players who have combined to play in 582 games and start 265 times.
Streak Broken: By totaling nine points in Wednesday's win over Illinois, Gilbert Arenas saw his streak of consecutive games in double figures end at 21. The streak, which dated back to Jan. 13 of last season, was the longest active streak on the team. Incidentally, it was just the fourth time in his 37-game career that he failed to reach double figures.
STARTING AGAIN: With Loren Woods out for the first six games of the season, senior Justin Wessel has again stepped into the starting lineup at center. "The Weaze," as he is known to teammates and fans, started eight games last season and seven the year before in spot duty. In the first three games of this season, Wessel averaged 4.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg. Over the past three seasons, Arizona is 16-2 when Wessel starts.
NBA Update: With the NBA season underway, here is a list of former Wildcats currently on active rosters in the National Basketball Association: Mike Bibby (Vancouver), Jud Buechler (Detroit), Michael Dickerson (Vancouver), Sean Elliott (San Antonio), Steve Kerr (San Antonio), Chris Mills (Golden State), Sean Rooks (Los Angeles Clippers), Damon Stoudamire (Portland) and Jason Terry (Atlanta).
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.).
Wildcats on TV in 2000-01: Arizona will once again receive extensive television coverage, as 31 games are scheduled to be televised live in 2000-01. The schedule features 14 national appearances with seven games offered nationally on Fox Sports Net, four games slated for CBS-TV, four on ESPN and one on ABC-TV. Fox Sports Net Arizona will also produce 16 games to be shown in the Arizona market, including three appearances on Tucson's KWBA-TV 58.
Up Next: The Wildcats open the home portion of the schedule on Wed., Nov. 29, against Gonzaga. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m. MST and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.