Jan. 24, 2002
Date: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002 Time: 11 a.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: CBS (Dick Enberg/Billy Packer)
Game Data: No. 10 Arizona (13-5, 6-3 Pac-10) steps out of conference Saturday to host No. 25 Connecticut (13-3, 6-0 Big East) in battle of cats and dogs on national television ... The Cats are 6-2 this year against ranked opponents and 2-1 in McKale Center ... Wednesday's 72-point output in the loss to Arizona State was the team's third-lowest point total of the season ... Arizona has been outrebounded in its last five games ... Since the start of the 1983-84 season, the Wildcats are 204-65 (.758) against non-conference opponents ... UA is 1-2 on CBS-TV this season.
The Rankings: After picking up a sweep of the Los Angeles schools last week, Arizona rose to No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 246 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 652-230 (.739) and 460-138 (.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 (256) 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 276-28 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 204 of its last 217 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 0-2 vs. Connecticut with this being the first meeting in McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Arizona State shot 53.8 percent from the floor, posted a 39-29 rebound advantage and forced 18 UA turnovers to earn the 88-72 win on Wednesday. The defeat snapped UA's 12-game win streak in the series and was ASU's largest margin of victory over the Cats since 1982. Luke Walton was the lone bright spot for Arizona in an otherwise lackluster performance, as he collected his fifth double-double of the year with game-high totals of 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Scouting Connecticut: The Huskies enter play today riding a five-game win streak after Wednesday's 75-70 win over St. John's. UConn (13-3 overall) leads the Big East Conference's East division with a spotless 6-0 record. While averaging 80.1 points per game, Connecticut limits the opposition to 67.6 points, 35.3 rebounds and a 37.0 field goal percentage. Through 16 games, no Husky opponent has shot better than 45 percent from the field. Individually, Caron Butler leads the team with a 19.3 ppg average, while Emeka Okafor pulls down 9.1 rebounds per game.
The Series: Today's game marks the third meeting of the two schools with Connecticut holding a 2-0 series advantage. The Huskies captured both games in the series, which dates back to Dec. 7, 1999, including a 71-69 decision last season in Storrs, Conn. on Dec. 9. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Storrs, and 0-1 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Connecticut 71, Arizona 69, Dec. 9, 2000. Fifteenth-ranked UConn outscored Arizona, 12-2, in the final 3:10 to turn an eight-point deficit into a two-point win in Arizona's first true road game of the season. Tony Robertson's runner with 1.8 seconds to go broke a 69-69 tie and gave the Huskies its only lead of the second half. The UConn bench was the deciding factor in the contest, outscoring UA, 32-10, to offset Michael Wright's 18-point, 10-rebound effort.
Soldering On: After averaging 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals last to earn Pac-10 Conference, Sports Illustrated and Dick Vitale Player-of-the-Week honors, Luke Walton continued his season-long run of solid performances in Wednesday's loss at Arizona State. The San Diego native posted game-high totals of 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was his fifth double-double of the year.
Record-Setting Performance: Freshman Salim Stoudamire has established a new UA record for consecutive free throws made at 39, surpassing the old mark of 29 set by Dylan Rigdon during the 1993-94 season. On the year, Stoudamire is 49-of-50 (.980) from the free throw line and leads the nation in that category. In case you were wondering, the Pac-10 record is 49 by Ryan Mendez of Stanford and the NCAA record is 73 by Gary Buchanan of Villanova. Both records were set last season.
Quality Opponents: With a pair of wins over ranked teams last week, Arizona improved its record to 6-2 against nationally-ranked opponents. The Cats are 4-1 against teams ranked in the top-10. To this point, 44 percent of Arizona's games have featured nationally-ranked opponents.
Nice Shooting: Freshman Channing Frye, the UA team leader in field goal percentage, saw his streak of consecutive field goals made end at 17 (covering four games). Over his last five games, Frye has made 22-of-26 (.846) attempts from the floor. He is shooting .621 (64-of-103) from the field for the year, and improves to .677 (42-of-62) in Pac-10 play.
Carrying the Load: It's kind of scary to think of Wednesday's outcome without Luke Walton's contributions. Walton set a new career high with 10 field goals (in 13 attempts) and chipped in 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. He scored 42 percent of the team's field goals, grabbed 34 percent of the rebounds, passed out 46 percent of the assists and tallied 50 percent of the steals. He also logged 40 minutes for the second time this season.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play today with 1,194 career points, which ties him for 20th place with Coniel Norman (1972-74), on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Ed Nymeyer, who tallied 1,225 points from 1956-58. Incidentally, Gardner has 61 double-figure scoring games in his 88-game career.
Off Target: For a team that entered the week leading the Pacific-10 Conference by averaging 7.65 three-point field goals per game, Wednesday's 2-of-16 (.125) shooting effort from behind the arc was certainly uncharacteristic. The two treys tallied in Tempe were a season low.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 53-5 (.914) 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 8-2 this year.
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 (35.1), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (206), second in three-point FG attempts (559), and eighth in steals (149). Gardner and Damon Stoudamire are the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point field goals.
No Cupcakes: Under Lute Olson, the Wildcats have traditionally used its open weekend in the Pac-10 schedule to play its last remaining non-conference game. But this isn't an easy "W" by any stretch of the imagination. Since the 1986-87 campaign, Arizona has played a nice cross section of the college basketball landscape. Here is a quick look:
Jan. 24, 1987: L, 63-82, at Illinois Jan. 30, 1988: W, 78-70, vs. Illinois Jan. 21, 1989: W, 75-67, vs. Villanova Jan. 20, 1990: W, 78-74, vs. Oklahoma Feb. 17, 1991: L, 56-62 vs. Georgia Tech (at the Meadowlands) Feb. 23, 1992: W, 66-60 vs. Temple (at St. Petersburg, Fla.) Feb. 21, 1993: W, 70-60, vs. Cincinnati (at Phoenix, Ariz.) Jan. 8, 1994: W, 94-80, vs. Marquette Jan. 7, 1995: W, 82-67, at Rhode Island Feb. 11, 1996: W, 79-76, vs. Cincinnati (at Phoenix, Ariz.) Feb. 9, 1997: W, 81-62, vs. Tulane (at Phoenix, Ariz.) Jan. 18, 1998: W, 89-70, vs. New Mexico Jan. 16, 1999: L, 78-79, at New Mexico Jan. 29, 2000: L, 60-86, at Louisiana State Jan. 27, 2001: W, 80-52, vs. Texas
Peaks and Valleys: With freshmen logging 51.8 percent of the available minutes to date, the consistency that normally comes with experience has, at times, been lacking. That is easily seen when looking at the point differential in the team's wins and losses. Seven of the Cats' 13 wins have been by seven points or less, while all five of the losses have been by eight points or more. If UA keeps it close the result is usually good, as the team is 6-0 in games decided by five points or less.
20-Point Games: Luke Walton's 26-point night Wednesday in Tempe was his third 20-point game of the year (fourth career) and Arizona's 13th of the season. Jason Gardner leads the team with nine, a figure that is tied for second in the Pac-10, while Salim Stoudamire also has one to his credit.
Dime Dropper: Since returning from his strained right Achilles' tendon five games ago, Luke Walton has improved on his team-leading assist numbers. In the last five games, Walton has passed out 38 assists, good for a 7.6 assists per game average. That figure is 2.4 assists better than his average in the first 10 games of the year (5.2).
Board Work: Arizona has always prided itself on being a good rebounding team and enjoys a minuscule +0.3 rebound advantage on the year. However, Arizona has been outrebounded in each of its last five games (40.0-34.8). UA has been outrebounded 10 times in 18 games this season. As a reference point, the Cats were tied or outrebounded just 10 times in 36 games a year ago.
In Wins and Losses: The statistics tell a vastly different tale when looking at UA wins vs. losses. While the numbers below certainly speak for themselves, here is another figure to crunch: first half scoring differential. In the 13 Arizona wins, the team averages 41.4 points per game while allowing 36.7 points, a +4.7 difference. In the five losses, Arizona allows 47.0 points and scores 33.6, a difference of -13.4 points.
In 13 Wins In 5 Losses UA Scoring Avg. 84.3 76.8 Opp. Scoring Avg. 75.5 92.4 Scoring margin +8.8 -15.6 FG Pct. .477 .389 Opp. FG Pct. .418 .503 Rebound Margin +2.8 -6.2
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: Arizona returns to Pac-10 play next week with a trip to the Bay Area on tap. The Cats travel to Berkeley, Calif., for a 7 p.m. PST game with California on Thursday, Jan. 31, prior to a 5 p.m. PST game at Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 2.