Game 25: No. 19 Arizona (17-7, 8-5) vs. No. 22 USC (18-7, 8-4)
Date: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007
Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 19 Arizona (17-7, 8-5 Pac-10) opens the final homestand of the season Thursday against No. 22 USC (18-7, 8-4 Pac-10) in McKale Center ... It should be an interesting match-up featuring the Pac-10’s third-best shot-blocking team (USC) against a club (Arizona) that has 48 field goals in the paint over its last three games played ... In 14 home games to date, Arizona is averaging 83.7 points per game, a figure that is 11.8 points per game higher than the opposition ... Arizona is 11-1 at home this season when posting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
The Rankings: After a sweep of two road games last week, Arizona jumped to No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and to No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Wildcats have been ranked in each AP poll to date this season.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 778-276 (.738) and 586-184 (.761) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 775th collegiate victory on Jan. 24, 2007, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (324) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.766/324-99) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 24-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 consecutive seasons, 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 second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 344-38 (.901) in McKale Center and have won 272 of its last 294 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 39-13 against USC.
Last Time Out: In a second half full of runs by both teams, Arizona made the necessary plays late to pull out a 77-74 win Saturday over Oregon in Eugene. Ivan Radenovic’s field goal with six seconds to go put the Cats up by one and Chase Budinger added two free throws four seconds later to clinch it. UA trailed by as many as nine in the second half, the last time coming at the 8:25 mark, but outscored Oregon 22-10 the rest of the way. Budinger finished with game-high totals of 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Scouting USC: The Trojans (18-7, 8-4 Pac-10) saw a three-game win streak end last Wednesday in a 70-65 loss at UCLA. As a team, USC averages 70.8 points per game, shoots 48.4 percent (634-of-1,310) from the field and posts a +0.6 per game rebound margin. Defensively, the Trojans allow 61.7 points per game and a .369 field goal percentage. Four USC players average in double figures, led by Nick Young’s 17.1 points per game figure. Taj Gibson leads the club with an 8.5 rebounds per game mark.
The Series: Tonight’s game is the 89th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 53-35 series advantage. UA has won 14 of the last 19 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, but USC captured the last contest, 80-73, in Los Angeles on Jan. 18. All-time, Arizona is 27-8 in series games played in Tucson, 23-27 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 101 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: USC 80, Arizona 73, Jan. 18, 2007: Nick Young scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the second half to lead the Trojans over the Wildcats. Young’s jumper gave USC a lead it would not relinquish with 15:42 to go, though Arizona did get to within two points at the 4:44 mark. The Trojans shot 69.2 percent from the floor in the second half to maintain the advantage. Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt combined for 64 of USC’s 80 points. Marcus Williams and Mustafa Shakur led Arizona with 19 points apiece.
Leading the Way: Marcus Williams led Arizona to its first Pac-10 road sweep of the season by averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field. The sophomore forward also connected on 4-of-8 (.500) three-point attempts and added two steals. He opened the week with a team-high 23 points (8-of-12 FGs) to go with four rebounds and two steals in the win over Oregon State. Williams came back to score 13 of his 16 points in the second half as the Wildcats rallied Saturday at Oregon en route to 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the three-point win in Eugene. He led the defensive effort against Oregon’s Aaron Brooks, the league’s leading scorer who entered the game averaging 18.1 ppg, and limited him to just four points on 2-of-14 shooting. On the year, Williams is averaging 17.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while shooting 51.5 percent from the field.
Road Sweeps: As mentioned above, last week’s effort was Arizona’s first road sweep of the year. It was also the program’s first road sweep since Dec. 29 and 31, 2005, when the Cats swept the Washington schools. In the Lute Olson era, Arizona has a conference-best 139-74 (.653) record in Pac-10 road games.
Toughness of Schedule: Arizona’s win over No. 13 Oregon Saturday was its third over a nationally ranked team this season. It was also the first over such an opponent in its last five tries. This year, Arizona is 3-4 against nationally ranked opponents and will play two more this week in No. 22 USC and No. 5 UCLA. It marks the seventh straight week in which UA will face at least one ranked foe.
Playing From Behind: Arizona erased a 10-point halftime deficit, and trailed by as many as nine with 8:25 to go Saturday in Eugene. Over that span, the Wildcats outscored the Ducks, 22-10. It evened the team’s record at 4-4 this year when trailing at the half and marked the largest halftime deficit overcome in a victory this season.
Finally, A Close Call that Ended Well: Ivan Radenovic’s field goal with six seconds remaining gave Arizona the lead for good in Saturday’s win, which gave the Wildcats a victory in a game decided by five points or less. Prior to Saturday, Arizona was 0-4 in close games. The three-point win also was UA’s first this season when trailing with five minutes remaining in the second half.
Strong to the Finish: One of the keys in Arizona’s decisive 22-10 run to close the Oregon victory was its ability to shut down the Ducks in the final 8:25. In that span, UA limited Oregon to just two field goals in 10 attempts. At one point during the run, Oregon missed seven consecutive shots. Conversely, Arizona connected on 9-of-12 field goal attempts, an effort that was capped by Ivan Radenovic’s game-winner. UA shot 52.8 percent (19-of-36) from the field in the second half Saturday.
Gathering Momentum: The Wildcats seem to have righted the ship over the last week. After surviving a stretch that saw the Cats drop six of eight contests, the team has rebounded to win its last three games. The wins improved the club’s record to 17-7 overall and 8-5 in Pac-10 play. In those three wins, Arizona is averaging 77.2 points per game, 5.2 points better than in the previous eight games.
True to Form: The Wildcats limited Oregon to just 41.2 percent (28-of-68) shooting Saturday, including 39.4 percent (13-of-33) in the second half, enabling Arizona to outshoot Oregon, .449-.412. That’s noteworthy because the Wildcats are 15-2 this year when posting a higher field goal percentage than the opposition. On the year, opponents are shooting 44.0 percent from the field, UA is at .487.
Commonality: Balanced is a common theme for the Wildcats. In racing to an 81.1 points per game scoring average, Arizona now has four players (Marcus Williams, Chase Budinger, Ivan Radenovic and Mustafa Shakur) that have scored more than 300 points this season ?- a feat matched by no other Pac-10 school. With five players averaging in double figures (Jawann McClellan), that number should rise to five before the end of the regular season.
Something Special: Freshman Chase Budinger reached the 30-point plateau for the second time this season in the win at Oregon. He is the only freshman in the Lute Olson era to score 30 or more points in a game, and his 30 points Saturday was just two points off his career best of 32 vs. Northern Arizona on Nov. 15. It was his 20th double-figure scoring game of the season. For good measure, Budinger collected 10 boards in the contest for his fourth double-double of the year, which is tied with Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams for the team lead. On the season, Budinger is averaging 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting .509 (140-of-275) from the field. Budinger joins Coniel Norman (5) and Eric Money (3) as the only UA freshmen to top the 30-point plateau multiple times in their initial collegiate season. Both Norman and Money accomplished the feat in 1972-73, the first season of freshman eligibility.
Follow his Lead: Senior Ivan Radenovic bounced back from a lackluster first half (4 pts./4 reb.) at Oregon to be a key factor in the second ?- long before his game-winning heroics. The 6-foot-10 forward from Belgrade, Serbia, tallied 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting to go with five rebounds after the break. Eight of those 12 points came in the final 8:25. He is averaging 15.7 points, a team-leading 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while leading the Cats with a 52.2 (120-of-230) field goal percentage.
Transparent: Led by Chase Budinger’s 10 boards, the Wildcats had four players tally seven or more rebounds en route to a 45-33 positive margin over the Ducks last Saturday. That continued a string that has seen Arizona outrebound its last 10 Pac-10 opponents ?- four of the last five by 10 or more.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 161-19 (.894) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 11-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points.
Always On the Run: Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity. Here are the ones of note to date:
25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)
34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)
31-9 run over 7:54 vs. California, Dec. 28 (UA went 11-of-13 during the run; Cal 4-of-14)
28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)
20-2 run over 5:59 vs. Louisville, Dec. 5 (UL went 1-of-10; UA 7-of-8 during the run)
21-4 run over 8:08 vs. Illinois, Dec. 2, 2006 (UA 8-of-12 FGs during run)
25-8 run over 9:01 vs. Washington, Feb. 3, 2007 (UW 4-of-12 FG with five turnovers during run)
24-8 run over 9:17 at San Diego State, Dec. 9, 2006 (SDSU 4-of-18 FG with five TO during run)
18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)
23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)
15-0 run over 2:28 at Washington, Jan. 4 (McClellan 3-of-3 from three-point range, UA 6-of-6 FTs)
22-10 run over 8:25 at Oregon, Feb. 10 (UA 9-of-12 FGs during run, Oregon 2-of-10)
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight’s game, UA hosts No. 5 UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 17. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST and can be seen on CBS-TV.