Jan. 8, 2002
Date: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002 Time: 7 p.m. PST Location: Friel Court (12,058), Pullman, Wash. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: KWBA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 20 Arizona (9-4, 2-2 Pac-10) hits the road once again as the squad travels to Pullman to take on Washington State (4-8, 0-4 Pac-10) ... Interestingly, Arizona has a better record away from home this season (6-2) than at McKale Center (3-2) ... Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Arizona is 4-2 on the Washington/Washington State road swing ... Over the last two seasons, Arizona is 21-8 (.724) in road or neutral-site games ... On their home courts, opponents are shooting .438 (109-of-249) against the Wildcats this season.
The Rankings: After splitting a pair of Pac-10 games last week, Arizona slipped to No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 244 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 648-229 (.739) and 456-137 (.769) at Arizona ... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (252) 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 19-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), played in the national championship game (2001), participated in four Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001), won nine Pac-10 Conference titles and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 17 years in a row, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 27)... 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 Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & '81) and directed the UA program to the nation's best winning percentage over the past 14 years (377-87/.813) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona - 15 alone since 1990 ... A Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last two years, Olson has led UA to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 23 overall in his career, making him one of only seven head coaches in NCAA history to record 23 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 274-28 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 202 of its last 215 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 34-2 vs. Washington State, including a 15-1 mark at Friel Court.
Last Time Out: Jason Gardner scored 23 of his career-high 34 points in the second half as Arizona erased a 21-point deficit in defeating Oregon State, 93-87, last Sunday. Trailing 57-38 with 19:33 to go, Arizona went on a 24-6 run to get back in the game, then took the lead for good at the 4:16 mark on a Gardner trey. He scored 14 of the Wildcats' final 18 points. Freshman Channing Frye added 18 points and 11 rebounds, while walk-on Anas Fellah played 10 solid minutes in a relief role. It was the largest Arizona comeback in the Lute Olson era.
Scouting Washington State: The Cougars enter play tonight with a 4-8 record (0-4 Pac-10) and riding a six-game losing streak after Sunday's 81-69 loss at UCLA. WSU averages 71.4 points per game, shoots .429 from the floor and is nearly equal with the opposition on the glass. Four Cougars average in double figures, led by Marcus Moore's 13.9 ppg average. 2001 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year J Locklier leads the team in rebounding at 6.3 rpg.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 50th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 39-10 series advantage. The Wildcats have won the last 32 games in the series, including last year's 81-56 victory on Feb. 10 in Tucson in the last meeting. All-time, Arizona is 19-5 in series games played in Tucson, 16-5 in Pullman, and 4-0 in neutral-site games. See page 87 in the UA men's basketball media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 81, Washington State 56, Feb. 10, 2001. The Wildcats shot a season-best 60.3 percent from the floor and handed out a season-high 30 assists in defeating the Cougars for the 32nd straight time. Loren Woods posted 18 points, six boards, five assists and four blocks to lead a strong team effort, as 10 of 12 players to see action scored points. Once again, the UA defense was solid, limiting WSU to just 34.0 percent shooting and outrebounding them, 43-20.
Stepping Up: Junior guard Jason Gardner averaged 28.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists as Arizona split a pair of conference games last week. He opened the week with a team-high 22 points, five rebounds and three steals in a 10-point loss to Oregon. He equaled a career high with 34 points in win over Oregon State and added six assists and three steals in 40 minutes of action. He hit 9-of-17 shots from the field, 5-of-10 from three-point range and 11-of-12 from the line. He scored 23 of his 34 points in the second half as the Wildcats erased a 21-point deficit to get the win. His trey at the 4:16 mark gave the Cats the lead for good. He has now scored in double figures in all 13 games to date and leads the team with a 22.1 ppg average.
How Much is He Worth?: Junior Luke Walton has missed the last three games due to a strained right Achilles' tendon. The injury, which occurred late in the first half of the Pepperdine game (Dec. 28), has forced him to miss games for the first time in his UA career. Certainly it's no secret that the team has struggled without him. Just how valuable is he? Without Walton in the lineup in two games this week, 47 of Arizona's 129 field goal attempts (36 percent) came from three-point range with only 37 attempts inside the lane (29 percent). His absence has forced the Cats to be a much more perimeter-oriented team, and his 12.0 points and team-leading 7.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game averages don't hurt either.
Finishing Strong: The Wildcats trailed by 21 points (55-34) with 1:21 remaining in the first half and by 19 (57-38) with 19:33 to go before coming from behind to defeat Oregon State Sunday night. Arizona outscored OSU, 55-32, in the second half, including a 24-6 run over 5:54 to get back in it. A Jason Gardner trey with 4:16 remaining gave the Wildcats a lead for good. It was Arizona's second double-figure, second-half comeback of the year (12 at Texas) and was the largest UA comeback in the Lute Olson era. In fact, it is the largest come-from-behind victory for the Cats in more than 20 years, as the only comeback that even comes close is a 17-point, come-from-behind win at USC on Jan. 19, 1980, in an 86-83 win.
Good Starts Key: Getting off to a good start has been a key for the Wildcats this season, as the team is 5-0 when leading at the break and just 4-4 when tied or trailing. On the year, Arizona has been outscored by an average of 39.2-38.6 in the first half this season. To take that a step farther, UA is 6-0 this season when tied or leading just 10 minutes into games, and 3-4 when behind.
On Target: In making the comeback against Oregon State, Arizona shot .567 (17-of-30) in the second half (a UA season best for any half this year) and .508 for the game. It was just the third time all season that the team has shot 50 percent or better in a game all season. Incidentally, Arizona has shot 50 percent or better in a single half just seven times this year.
On the Rise: Freshman guard Salim Stoudamire continues to see his field goal percentage improve. Over the last four games, Stoudamire has connected on 23-of-41 (.561) FG attempts, including 13-of-26 from three-point range. He is one of four UA players averaging in double figures (11.3 ppg).
Good Guard Play: The Wildcats committed a season-low seven turnovers in Sunday's win, including just one in the second half. That led to a season-best 14:7 assist:turnover ratio in the game, one of only five games this season where the Cats posted a positive assist:turnover ratio.
Likes the Opposition: Freshman center Channing Frye must like facing Oregon State. In two career games vs. the Beavers, Frye is averaging 18.0 points and 13.5 rebounds. Since moving into the starting lineup on Dec. 20 vs. Oregon State, Frye is averaging 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds to go with a .547 FG percentage (29-of-53) in his last six games. He also has four double-figure rebounding games and three double-doubles to his credit.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,107 career points, which ranks 26th on the UA career scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Phil Taylor, who scored 1,127 points from 1975-78.
Comebacks: As mentioned earlier, Sunday's win over Oregon State was the largest comeback for an Arizona squad in the Lute Olson era. The Cats trailed by 21 late in the first half, 17 at the break and 19 with 19:33 remaining in the second half. Here is a look at Arizona's largest comebacks since 1983-84:
21 - Trailed 55-34 (1:21/1st), won 93-87 vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6, 2001 14 - Trailed 57-43 (17:42/2nd), won 91-87 at UCLA, March 7, 1998 14 - Trailed 33-19 (6:42/1st), won 88-86 vs. Washington, Jan. 9, 1999 12 - Trailed 18-6 (10:19/1st), won 66-56 vs. Mississippi, March 23, 2001 12 - Trailed 51-39 (18:28/2nd), won 88-74 at Texas, Nov. 17, 2001
Board Work: Arizona did manage to post a +10 rebound advantage (the second-largest margin of the year) in Sunday's win (31-21) to improve to 8-0 this year when outrebounding the opposition.
Who is this Guy?: Talk about unsung heroes...Freshman walk-on Anas Fellah was one of the key performers in Sunday's come-from-behind victory. The guard from Tucson played 10 minutes, much of it during the key 24-6 run that got the team back in it, and collected a steal, an assist and his first collegiate field goal. Expect him to see more playing time as a backup to UA's normal three-guard rotation.
Top-10 List: Jason Gardner continues to move himself up various career top-10 lists. In addition to being the career leader in minutes per game (35.0), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (193), second in three-point FG attempts (517), and eighth in steals (143).
Getting Better: Freshman Will Bynum posted his best week of the season, averaging 12.5 points in the two games vs. the Oregon schools. The guard from Chicago scored in double figures in both games, extending his season-best streak to three, and was key in the win over Oregon State. He hit 5-of-8 shots from the field in the second half and scored all 10 of his points after the halftime break.
Winning The Close Ones: Arizona is 5-0 in games decided by five points or less. Last year's NCAA runner-up went just 4-4 in the close games.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 49-5 (.907) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. Last year, the Cats were a spotless 17-0 when scoring at least 80 points, but just 4-2 this year.
Juggling the Lineup: Luke Walton's absence has caused Arizona to juggle the starting lineup yet again. The quintet of Rick Anderson, Channing Fyre, Jason Gardner, Salim Stoudamire and Will Bynum are 2-1 as a starting five and mark the fifth different lineup this used this season. It is also the first time UA started a three-guard lineup.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: This trip to the Pacific Northwest concludes Saturday, Jan. 12, at Washington. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST and will be televised on KWBA-TV58 in Tucson. Following that contest, the Cats return home to face USC on Thursday, Jan. 17. That game tips-off at 8:30 p.m. MST and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.