March 20, 2003
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2003
Time: 3:40 p.m. MST
Location: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000), Salt Lake City, Utah Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: CBS (Dick Enberg/Matt Goukas)
GAME DATA: Second-ranked Arizona (26-3, 17-1 Pac-10) appears in its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the West Region ... The Wildcats face No. 9 seed Gonzaga (24-8, 12-2 West Coast) in the second round ... Arizona has a 35-20 (.636) in its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearances ... UA is 11-2 vs. the 2003 NCAA Tournament field ... The Wildcats have a 4-2 NCAA Tournament mark at the Huntsman Center with its last appearance coming in the 2000 West Region First/Second Rounds ... Arizona's six NCAA Tournament games played in Salt Lake City equals the Cats' six games in Los Angeles in terms of most games played at one NCAA Tournament location ... A win Saturday would give the Wildcats its third consecutive berth in the "Sweet 16" and its seventh in the last 10 seasons.
THE RANKINGS: After holding the nation's No. 1 ranking for the last five weeks, Arizona slipped from the top spot in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Cats have been the top-ranked team in 13 of 19 AP polling periods this season. UA has been ranked in 270 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
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 689-238 (.743) and 497-146 (.773) 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 second-most Pac-10 wins (279) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.784/279-77) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... 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 10 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 19 years, 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 seven times (1986, '88, '89, '93, '94, '98, 2003), 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 16 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 25 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 25 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 294-30 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 222 of its last 237 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 1-0 against Gonzaga.
LAST TIME OUT: Salim Stoudamire scored a team-high 18 points and was one of four Wildcats in double figures as Arizona defeated Vermont Thursday, 80-51, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region. The sophomore scored 16 of those points in the first half to lead UA to 39-22 lead at the break. The Wildcats used a 16-4 run over the last 5:31 of the first half to break open the game and followed with a 24-12 run over the first nine minutes of the second half to put the game out of reach. Center Channing Frye added 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Rick Anderson chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds. After shooting just 39.4 percent from the field in the first half, UA rebounded to blister the nets at a 54.4 clip in the second half.
SCOUTING GONZAGA: The Bulldogs (24-8, 12-2 West Coast) enter Saturday's game looking for its fourth trip to the "Sweet 16" in the last five seasons. All-time, Gonzaga is 8-5 in NCAA Tournament play. As a team, the Zags shoot 46.9 percent from the field, post a +6.0 rebound margin and average 77.0 points per game, +8.8 points more than the opposition. A fundamentally-sound squad, Gonzaga averages just 14.5 turnovers per game. Individually, Gonzaga is led by junior guard Blake Stepp, who averages 17.8 points per game. The inside combination of Ronny Turiaf and Corey Violette combines to average 27.1 points and 14.3 rebounds per contest.
THE SERIES: Saturday's game will be the second meeting between the two schools with Arizona holding a 1-0 series advantage. The Wildcats defeated the Bulldogs, 101-87, in Tucson on Nov. 29, 2000. All-time, Arizona is 21-13 (.618) against West Coast Conference foes, including a 94-71 win over Pepperdine in Tucson on Dec. 28, 2001.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 101, Gonzaga 87, Nov. 29, 2000: Arizona parlayed a 34-14 free throw advantage into a 13-point win as the team bounced back from its first loss of the season. Gonzaga shot 52.5 percent from the floor, including 11-of-23 from three-point range, and outrebounded Arizona, 35-33, but couldn't overcome 32 personal fouls and 21 turnovers. Michael Wright, who led all scorers with 25 points, was 11-of-13 from the stripe, while Eugene Edgerson went 8-for-8.
IN THE WEST REGION: Arizona has a 24-15 (.615) record when playing in the West Region. The Cats have been placed in the West Region by the selection committee in three of the last four seasons (2001 Midwest). UA has advanced to the Final Four twice (1988/1994) from the West Region.
AS A NO. 1 SEED: All-time, Arizona has a 11-4 (.733) record when playing as a No. 1 seed. The last time the Wildcats entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed came in 2000 out of the West Region. Incidentally, Arizona played its first- and second-round games at Utah's Huntsman Center.
AGAINST A NO. 9 SEED: Arizona is 2-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament action against a No. 9 seed, defeating Clemson, 94-68, in 1989 and Illinois State, 82-49, in 1998.
WINNING MARGINS: Arizona's opening-round 80-51 victory was its biggest winning margin (29 points) in an NCAA game since the Cats whipped Illinois State by a score of 82-49 (33) in second-round West Region play at Sacramento in 1998. The flogging that year came on the heels of a 99-60 rout over Nicholls State in the first round.
ON THE REBOUND: UA did a good job outrebounding the Catamounts Thursday afternoon. Vermont brought a +8.0 rebounding margin into the game but UA pulled down a 47-34 edge. UA's 36 defensive boards was its second-most of the season (USC, Feb. 15) and the 47 boards was the fifth-best this year for the Cats.
SORT OF LIKE SWITZERLAND: Neutrality appeals to a couple of Wildcats. Center Channing Frye (17.5), Rick Anderson (17.5) and Salim Stoudamire (17.0) each have exceeded their season scoring averages by about 25 percent on neutral courts. It comes at a good time - in the post-season. UA did not have a neutral-court regular-season game this year.
TREY BLITZ: Salim Stoudamire brought a nice 24-for-52 streak of three-point shooting (last 10 games) into the tournament, then posted a 4-for-8 effort to make it 46.7 percent (28-of-60) in the last 11 games. His 15.0 points per game average in that span ranks second on the club (Frye, 17.2 ppg).
MOVIN' UP: Jason Gardner enters the NCAA Tournament just six points away from becoming the school's No. 3 career scorer, which would make him the highest-scoring guard in school history. Gardner, who has 1,920 career points, trails Sean Elliott (2,555/1985-89), Bob Elliott (2,125/1973-77), and Khalid Reeves (1,925/1990-94) on Arizona's all-time scoring list. He is also one appearance away from the UA career games played record and two starts away from the games started record. Gardner is 80 points shy of 2,000 for his career.
FINDING SOME CONSISTENCY: Arizona is 16-1 this year with the starting lineup it used in the first round. Earlier permutations were largely the result of ankle injuries to Luke Walton and Salim Stoudamire. None of the other 11 variations of the starting five was used more than twice.
IN THE SECOND ROUND: Since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams in 1985, Arizona is 9-2 in second round games. Both of those losses came in the West Region, a 77-55 loss to (7) Alabama in 1990 and a 66-59 loss to (8) Wisconsin in 2000.
KEEP SHOOTING: The Cats' Jason Gardner hit 8-of-15 shots to help him post 27 points in UA's regular-season finale against Oregon a few weeks ago. Since then, he's seen a host of the shots go awry. He's hit 13.8 percent (4-of-29) from the field in the last two games against UCLA (2-for-20) and Vermont (2-for-9). The most experienced Wildcat has found other ways to contribute, as he has tallied 15 rebounds and nine assists in that span.
CLAMPING DOWN: Arizona limited Vermont to just 31.3 percent from the field Thursday, including 28.1 percent (9-of-32) in the first half. It marked the 12th time this season that Arizona has held the opposition to less than 40 percent shooting. On the season, UA opponents are shooting just .404 (758-of-1875) from the field.
STOLEN MOMENTS: With a four players collecting two steals apiece on Thursday, Arizona collected 10 steals for the fourth consecutive game, a season best. All told, Arizona averages 8.5 steals per game and has reached double-figures 12 times in 2002-03.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Channing Frye posted his team-leading seventh double-double of the season with a 12-point, 12-rebound effort Thursday vs. Vermont. It was his fifth double-double in his last 12 games.
IN MARCH: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 34-11 (.756) in the month of March.
SCORING 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 81-8 (.910) 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.