March 17, 2002
Date: Thursday, March 21, 2002 Time: 4:55 p.m. PST Location: Compaq Center at San Jose (18,500), San Jose, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: CBS (TBA)
Game Data: Seventh-ranked Arizona (24-9, 12-6 Pac-10) carries its No. 3 seed to the NCAA West Regional in San Jose, Calif. ... The Wildcats face No. 2 seed Oklahoma (29-4, 13-3 Big 12) in the regional semifinal ... Now in its 21st appearance, Arizona has a 34-19 (.642) record in NCAA Tournament play ... Arizona is 15-8 this season against the 2002 NCAA Tournament field ... This is the Cats' 10th Sweet 16 appearance and its fifth in the last seven years .... UA is 10-5 (.667) all-time in regional semifinal or final games.
The Rankings: Arizona won two games to advance to the NCAA West Regional Semifinals and remains ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 254 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 663-234 (.739) and 471-142 (.768) 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 (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 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, 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 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 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only seven head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 280-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 208 of its last 222 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ... Olson is 1-3 vs. Oklahoma.
Last Time Out: Luke Walton scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, including two key field goals in the final five minutes, to lead Arizona to a 68-60 win over Wyoming on March 16 in the NCAA West Region Second Round. Channing Frye also came up big, registering 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, as the Cats outrebounded the Cowboys, 38-37. UA, who outscored Wyoming 20-4 from the free throw line, held the lead for the game's final 28:27.
Scouting Oklahoma: The Big 12 Tournament-champion Sooners (29-4, 13-3 Big 12) enter Thursday's semifinal game on a 10-game win streak after Sunday's 78-65 win over Xavier in the second round. A very athletic team, OU averages 78.0 points per game, collects 9.2 steals per game, holds the opposition to .402 shooting and 64.0 points and posts a +6.1 rebound margin. Individually, Hollis Price leads three Sooner players averaging in double figures with a 16.5 ppg scoring average.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the fifth meeting of the two schools with Oklahoma holding a 3-1 series advantage. Two of the four series games have come in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners won the last meeting in the series, which dates back to the 1988 Final Four, 61-60 in Milwaukee, Wis., on March 12 in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Norman, and 0-2 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Oklahoma 61, Arizona 60, March 12, 1999. A Ryan Humphrey tip-in with 10 seconds to go lifted Oklahoma to the one-point win in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. Arizona shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the field (19-of-57) and managed to build a 43-37 lead with 12:33 to go, but saw the game tied at 44 moments later. A Richard Jefferson layup with 1:43 remaining put the Cats ahead, 60-56, but it was the last points Arizona would register. An Eduardo Najera trey cut the lead to one before Humphrey's heroics.
In the West Region: Arizona has a 23-14 record when playing in the West Regional (including last weekend's games) with the last prior appearance in the region in 2000. The Wildcats have advanced to the Final Four twice (1988/1994) from the West Region.
As a No. 3 Seed: All time, Arizona has a 4-2 record as a No. 3 seed. The last time UA entered the Tournament as a No. 3 seed came in 1996 out of the West Region, where that squad lost to second-seeded Kansas, 83-80, in the regional semifinal in Denver.
All-America: Jason Gardner picked up a pair of All-American accolades last week, as the junior guard was named second team All-America by cnnsi.com and third team by the Associated Press. It is the third such honor for Gardner this season, as he was also named third team All-America by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. On the year, Gardner is averaging 20.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
Coach of the Year: UA head coach Lute Olson was also recognized last week by cnnsi.com, as it selected the Wildcat mentor as its national coach of the year. It is the second consecutive season in which Olson has been nationally recognized. Last year, Olson was named the Clair Bee Coach of the Year and was also honored with the John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" award.
Streaking: Arizona makes its second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance riding a six-game win streak, which is a season best. It is the Cats' longest win streak since last season's club won 11 straight games leading up to the National Championship final against Duke.
20 Wins: The six game-win streak that included a sweep of the Pac-10 Tournament gives Arizona a 24-9 record and also hands Lute Olson his 24th 20-win season in 29 years as a collegiate head coach. Arizona has won now 20 or more games in 15 straight seasons and 24 times in school history.
Sweet 16: 2002 marks Arizona's sixth regional semifinal berth in the last 11 years. The Cats are one of eight schools to have made as many as six Sweet 16 appearances in that span (1992-2002). Each team's best finish is listed below:
1. Kentucky 9 National Champions 1996, 1998 2. Duke 7 National Champions 1992, 2001 Kansas 7 Final Four 1993 UCLA 7 National Champions 1995 5. Arizona 6 National Champions 1997 Connecticut 6 National Champions 1999 Maryland 6 Final Four 2001 North Carolina 6 National Champions 1993
A Crowd Favorite: Arizona set a school record for average attendance this season, averaging 14,544 fans per game, which broke last season's record of 14,533. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance each season since 1984-85.
On the Run: The Wildcats have made a habit of big second-half runs. UA used a 21-8 run to open the second half (covering 6:26) to take control of the first-round win over UC-Santa Barbara. It marked the seventh time in which an Arizona run helped the team out of a second-half deficit:
26 points - 30-4 run over 10:23 vs. California, March 2 25 points - 27-2 run over 6:16 vs. UCLA, Jan. 19 20 points - 35-15 run over 12:22 vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6 19 points - 25-6 run over 8:28 at Texas, Nov. 17 15 points - 19-4 run over 7:00 vs. USC, March 9 13 points - 21-8 run over 6:26 vs. UC-Santa Barbara, March 14 12 points - 24-12 run over 7:16 vs. Kansas, Dec. 1
This Week's Strength of Schedule Note: After pointing out last week that Arizona has played nine games this season against teams that at least shared a league title (Big 12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big East, West Coast, Pac-10, Mid Continent), this week's test of Arizona schedule strength focuses on the Sweet 16. The Wildcats have faced eight (counting Oklahoma) of the other 15 teams (10 games total) in the regional semifinals during the course of the 2001-02 campaign. Additionally, Arizona is 10-6 against ranked opponents this season.
Leading the Way: Luke Walton's game-high 21 points in last Saturday's win over Wyoming marked the seventh time he has led (or tied for the lead) the team in scoring. That's proven to be a good thing, as the club is 6-1 when following Walton's lead.
Four Crowns: It took 12 years to do it, but the Pac-10 Tournament championship Arizona won March 9 was actually its fourth consecutive. The Wildcats won three straight (1988-90) in the league's first incarnation of the event in addition to the 2002 edition. All time, Arizona has a 12-1 record (.923) in conference tournament play and has won 12 straight tournament games.
All-Conference Accolades: Four Arizona players were recognized by the Pacific-10 Conference with postseason honors. Juniors Luke Walton and Jason Gardner were named all-conference, while Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye were named to the all-freshman team. Stoudamire was also named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
A Battle For Conference Supremacy: Maybe Thursday's NCAA West Regional Semifinals should be called the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge, as Arizona and UCLA meet Oklahoma and Missouri. Interestingly, those are two of three Big12/Pac-10 semifinal matchups, as the Midwest Regional also pits Oregon against Texas. In case you wondered, Arizona has a cumulative 58-63 (.479) mark against schools that make up the Big 12, including a 1-1 record this year.
The Accuracy is Back: Freshman Channing Frye regained his shooting touch in Albuquerque, connecting on 11-of-17 (.647) of his field goal attempts in a pair of games. Heading into last weekend, Frye was shooting 44.2 percent in his last 10 games. All told, it was a good weekend across the board from Frye, as the Phoenix native scored 34 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Included in the effort was an 18-point, 11-rebound, five-block effort vs. Wyoming.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play in the tournament with 1,498 career points, which places him 10th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Anthony Cook, who tallied 1,590 points from 1986-89. Incidentally, Gardner has 75 double-figure scoring games in his 103-game career.
Accepting Charity: Fifty-two of Arizona's 154 points scored (33.7 percent) in its two NCAA Tournament wins have come from the free throw line. In fact, UA outscored the opposition 52-15 from the stripe in those two games. That's been a trend all year, as Arizona has made more free throws (649) than the opponents have attempted (618).
On the Glass: Rebounding is one of the big reasons that Arizona was able to advance to the Sweet 16. The Wildcats outrebounded both opponents and posted a +7.5 rebound margin for the weekend. UA's starting frontline averaged 24.5 rebounds pert game last weekend.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 61-7 (.897) 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, and are 16-4 this year.
400 Club: The 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats has accomplished a rare statistical feat: have four players score at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (678 points), Luke Walton (478), Salim Stoudamire (426) and Rick Anderson (413) enabled the 2001-02 club to join the 1999-2000 team as the only two UA squads to accomplish the feat since 1987-88.
Not for the Faint-hearted: Arizona has been involved in more than a few close games this season, as the squad is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less. When factoring in a 9-2 mark in games decided by 6-10 points, 22 of Arizona's 33 games have been decided by 10 points or less.
On target: Freshman Salim Stoudamire has certainly made an impact with his outside shooting. On the season, the Portland, Ore., native is shooting 44.9 percent from the filed, including 45.8 percent from three point range. In the last 10 games, those figures rise to 50.6 (39-of-77) and 50.0 (22-of-44), respectively. Stoudamire has been so accurate, he currently ranks second on the school's career three-point FG percentage chart behind Steve Kerr (.573).
Ball Security: In addition to scoring 42 points last weekend, Jason Gardner did what any good point guard should do...take care of the ball. In the two games last weekend, Gardner passed out 13 assists against only four turnovers in 80 minutes played. That 3.3:1 assist:turnover ratio is more than double his season ration of 1.6:1.
Freshman Contributions: Those UA freshmen have certainly made an impact, as the group has combined to score 41.9 percent of the team's offense, grab 44.1 percent of the rebounds and log 49.2 percent of the minutes played.
Stepping Up: One of the key factors to Luke Walton's emergence as a marquee player this season has been his willingness to take big shots, as witnessed by his second half against Wyoming. He is averaging 12 field goal attempts per game this season, or 6.9 more shots than his career average entering the year. It only seems like each one has been meaningful this season.
Record Breaker: File this one under dubious distinction. Junior Rick Anderson broke a 52-year old school record last week against Wyoming. The foul, which stopped a potential Cowboy fast break with just over a minute to play, was Anderson's 114th personal foul of the season. That broke the former school record of 113 set by Leo Johnson in 1949-50. Anderson can take solace in the fact that his average of 3.45 fouls per game is 0.85 less than the school record for average fouls per game.
Within Reach: Both Jason Gardner and Luke Walton head to the West Regional Semifinals very close to single-season milestones. Both players are 22 points shy of reaching 700 and 500 points scored, respectively, this season. Gardner would become just the third player in school history (accomplished four times) to score 700 points in a single season, while Walton would become the 27th player (41 times) to top the 500-point plateau.
Offensive Balance: It's no secret that the Cats are at its collective best when all five cylinders are firing. This year, Arizona is 7-0 when five or more players finish in double figures. Additionally, Arizona is 39-3 (.929) when scoring at least 90 points since 1997-98, though two of those losses (Kansas/Connecticut) have come this season.
Clamping Down: The Wildcats held Wyoming to just 60 points last Saturday, marking just the fourth time that Arizona has held an opponent to 60 points or less. In its five postseason wins, UA is limiting opponents to 69.2 points, 8.2 points less than the season average, and a .424 field goal percentage.
Good Starts: This season, Arizona is 18-2 when leading or tied after the first 10 minutes of play. In its 24 wins, Arizona outscores the opposition by an average of 4.96 points in the first half, a figure that is 3.23 points higher than its 33-game average.
Stoudamire Comparison: Here is a statistical comparison of the Stoudamire cousins, Damon (1991-92) and Salim, in their freshman years at Arizona.
GP-S Min. FG-A Pct. 3FG-A Pct. FT-A Pct. R/G A TO Blk Stl Pts.-Avg. Damon 30-0 540 76-167 .455 28-69 .406 37-48 .771 2.2 76 44 3 22 217-7.2 Salim 33-27 990 127-283 .449 71-155 .458 101-112 .902 2.1 38 53 0 26 426-12.9
In March: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 30-9 (.769) in the month of March.
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.