Dec. 17, 2002
Date: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 Time: 7 p.m. CST Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center (14,164), Baton Rouge, La. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: ESPN2 (Dan Shulman/Dick Vitale)
Game Data: Top-ranked Arizona (5-0, 0-0 Pac-10) celebrates the completion of final exams with a trip to Baton Rouge, La., to take on Louisiana State (5-1, 0-0 SEC) ... The last time UA visited the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (Jan. 29, 2000), LSU handed the Wildcats an 86-60 defeat, the worst loss in the Lute Olson era ... UA is 31-12 (.721) over the last three seasons in road or neutral-site games ... Arizona is 11-19 (.367) all-time against current Southeastern Conference members, but is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.
The Rankings: For the fifth straight week, Arizona occupies the top spot in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. UA has been ranked in 257 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only. It is the 41st polling period (22 media/19 coaches) in which Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in either national poll.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 668-235 (.740) and 476-143 (.769) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (262) 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 20-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, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, which is the longest active and 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 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 284-29 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 212 of its last 226 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 3-2 against Louisiana State.
Last Time Out: Jason Gardner scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including six in the final two minutes to lead Arizona to a 73-70 win over No. 8 Texas. Gardner hit two key jumpers in the last two minutes to break a 65-65 tie. The senior also added a career-high eight rebounds and seven assists in the effort. Rebounding proved to be key, as UA outrebounded Texas, 46-41, including 24-17 in the second half. Isaiah Fox added 11 points and eight boards to help the cause.
Scouting Louisiana State: The Tigers enter Saturday's game riding a three-game win streak (pending Tuesday's game vs. Prairie View A&M) after a 95-60 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. LSU certainly defends its homecourt, as the squad is a spotless 5-0 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. As a team, the Tigers shoot 51.6 percent from the floor, post a +10 rebound margin and average 78.2 points per game, while holding the opposition to a .388 field goal percentage and 56.8 points per game. Individually, the 17-man LSU roster sports three players averaging in double figures, led by Ronald Dupree's 14.8 ppg average.
The Series: Saturday's game marks the sixth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 3-2 series advantage. The home team has won each meeting of the series, which dates back to Dec. 8, 1990, including Arizona's 88-75 win in Tucson on Dec. 20, 2000. All-time, Arizona is 3-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-2 in Baton Rouge and 0-0 in neutral site games. Plese see page 124 of the UA basketball media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 88, Louisiana State 75, Dec. 20, 2000: After a sluggish start, Arizona blistered the nets with 58.1 percent shooting in the second half (a season best) to outscore LSU, 44-28, earn the 13-point win and snap a two-game losing streak. Led by Gilbert Arenas, who scored 16 of his season-high 24 points in the second half, the Cats broke open the game with a 24-7 run midway through the second. Arenas was the key in the run scoring 11 points, including 10 consecutive at one stretch. He was 8-for-12 from the field for the game to go with a career-best five treys, and was one of five UA players to score in double figures.
Clutch: Jason Gardner led Arizona to a 73-70 win over No. 8 Texas Sunday with 13 points, a career-high eight rebounds and seven assists. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including six in the final two minutes. The seven assists were a season high and were measured against just one turnover in 37 minutes. Gardner hit two jumpers in the final two minutes that broke a 65-65 tie and give Arizona the lead for good. He was 4-of-8 from the floor after the break and grabbed six of his eight rebounds. Gardner earned Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors for his efforts.
Top-Notch Opposition: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Lute Olson has led Arizona into games against 35 opponents ranked in the nation's top 10 at the time of the contest. In that span, Olson has a 24-11 (.686) record, including a 7-1 (.875) mark at McKale Center, 4-2 (.667) on the road, and 13-8 (.619) in neutral-site games. That works out to nearly 20 percent of all UA games over the last seven years have been played against top-10 opponents. Perhaps more impressively, UA is 16-6 (.727) vs. top-five teams in that span.
Muscling Up: Arizona finally flexed a bit of rebounding muscle in the win over Texas, as the Wildcats posted a 46-41 rebound advantage. It marked the first time this season that Texas had been outrebounded. UA was especially good on the glass in the second half, as it outrebounded the Longhorns, 24-17 in the second half. Five players in the UA lineup grabbed at least five rebounds against Texas.
Good Enough: Despite shooting a season-low 39.4 percent from the field, Arizona did manage to outshoot Texas from the floor. The Cats held Texas to a season-low 36.4 percent (24-of-66) from the field, including a 33.3 percentage in the second half. Arizona's effort was bolstered by a 45.2 figure (14-of-31) in the second half of the hard-fought victory. Over the last three seasons, Arizona is 48-2 (.960) when outshooting the opposition.
Close One: After winning its first four games by an average of 28.8 points, Arizona pulled out a close one on Sunday in the 73-70 win over Texas. Playing close games in nothing new for this crew, as the squad was 7-4 last year in games decided by five points or less. Incidentally, Texas' 70-point offensive output was just 1.8 points better than Arizona's 68.2 points per game allowed entering the contest.
Limiting Second Chances: In posting a +5 rebound advantage in Sunday's win over Texas, Arizona used a season-best 29 defensive rebounds to control the defensive glass. Even with a +7 rebound margin on the year, Olson has emphasized boardwork recently and it paid off against a team that had been outrebounding its foes by almost 10 per contest.
Stepping In: The combination of Andre Iguodala and Hassan Adams did a nice job of filling in for an injured Luke Walton. The duo combined to tally 17 points and 10 rebounds in the three-point win. The freshmen hit 7-of-14 shots from the floor and added two assists and two steals in the effort.
Better Distribution: Guard Jason Gardner notched a season-high seven assists in Sunday's, which equaled a UA season high. In his last two games, the senior has 13 assists against three turnovers. He's averaging 4.8 assists per game and improved his assist:turnover ratio on the season to 2.4:1. Arizona is 44-8 during Gardner's career when he passes out at least five assists in a game.
True to Form: Sophomore Salim Stoudamire continues to work himself back into playing shape, but Sunday's performance looked more like the Stoudamire of old. The 6-foot-1 guard scored a team-high 14 points against Texas (4-of-8 from three-point range) to finish in double figures for the first time this season. He also collected a season-high three boards and two assists in the contest.
Taking Care of the Ball: The Wildcats continue to win the turnover battle this season, as the squad is forcing more than six more turnovers per game than it commits. On the year, Arizona is forcing 20.4 turnovers per game, while committing an average of 14.2 per game. Leading the way for Arizona is Jason Gardner, who has turned it over just 10 times in five games (one in 37 minutes vs. Texas). That averages out to one turnover in every 15.8 minutes played.
An Inside Presence: In a game in which neither team shot very well, Arizona's Isaiah Fox hit 4-of-6 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws en route to a season-high 11 points. The sophomore center also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds (five offensive). Fox has now scored in double figures in three consecutive games, a career first.
Off the Pine: Arizona's bench proved to be the difference in Sunday's win, as the UA bench outscored Texas, 32-26. All five players to come off the Wildcat bench scored at least one point and grabbed at least one board.
Three-Point FG Defense: Arizona has done a good job of contesting the opposition's three-point attempts. On the season, UA opponents are hitting just 28.4 percent (29-of-102) of its attempts from behind the arc. The Cats limited Texas to just 30 percent (6-of-20) and has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 33 percent from three-point range in any game this season. That's also a big improvement over last season when UA opponents shot 34.8 percent from three-point range.
Warming Up: Sophomore forward Dennis Latimore continues to improve with each appearance, and the Texas game was no different. The natlive of Halstead, Kan., scored seven points, added a rebound, and proved to be a solid defensive presence in his 15 minutes of action. His seven points scored were a season high.
Improving: Freshman guard Chris Rodgers improvement of late earned him a little playing time on Sunday. The 6-foot-3 guard played five minutes against the Longhorns and finished with two points a rebound and an assist. Rodgers, who Olson said is potentially UA's best defensive guard, is averaging 3.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in four appearances to go with six assists (just two TO) and four steals.
Steady: Despite not scorng in double figures, one can always look to Rick Anderson for rebounds. The 6-foot-9 senior shares the team lead with a 5.8 rebounds per game average and has grabbed 17 boards in the last two games.
Combinations: Prior to the start of the season, Coach Olson stated that it would take some time to find the best lineup combinations. The Wildcat mentor has used a different starting lineup in all five games this season. Only Rick Anderson and Jason Gardner have started all five games.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 65-7 (.903) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 16-4 last season when scoring at least 80 points.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Ndudi Ebi (F, 6-8, 192) from Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian High School, Mustafa Shakur (G, 6-3, 175) from Wynnewood, Pa., Friends Central High School and Kirk Walters (C, 6-10, 210) from Grand Rapids, Mich., South Christian High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight's game in Baton Rouge, UA gets a week off for Christmas before returning to action. The Cats host the Fiesta Bowl Classic honoring Bobbi Olson on Dec. 28 and 30 in Tucson. First round match-ups feature Florida State vs. Boston University (1:45 p.m. MST) and Arizona vs. Davidson (4 p.m. MST).