Jan. 2, 2002
Date: Friday, Jan. 4, 2002 Time: 6:30 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 15 Arizona (8-3, 1-1 Pac-10) hosts Oregon (9-3, 2-0 Pac-10) in the Cats' Pacific-10 Conference home opener... In another scheduling quirk, UA and UO wrap up the home-and-home series in the first week of January ... Last year, Arizona was 8-1 in the return game against Pac-10 foes ... With Lute Olson on the sideline, UA is 14-3 in Pac-10 home openers ... Arizona is averaging 88.3 points at home this season, 8.7 points higher than its season scoring average ... So much for experience: the Cats were 7-4 at this point last season.
The Rankings: After winning the Fiesta Bowl Classic last week, Arizona slipped to No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and rose to No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 243 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 647-228 (.739) and 455-136 (.770) 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 (251) 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 273-27 (.910) in McKale Center and have won 201 of its last 213 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 28-9 vs. Oregon, including a 17-1 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Jason Gardner's four-point play with 1:28 remaining erased a one-point deficit and propelled UA to the Fiesta Bowl Classic championship with a four-point win over Valparaiso. Gardner, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finished with 19 points, six assists and a season-high five steals. Rick Anderson posted his first career double-double with career-high totals of 18 points and 11 rebounds, as the Cats improved to 33-1 in Fiesta Bowl Classic competition.
Scouting Oregon: The Ducks enter play this week with a 9-3 record (2-0 Pac-10) and five-game win streak after a 96-50 win over Morris Brown on Dec. 27. Oregon averages 88.0 points per game, shoots .507 from the floor and outrebounds the opposition by 8.6 boards per game, while limiting opponents to just .388 shooting. Frederick Jones leads four UO players in double-figures with a 15.8 ppg average.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 49th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 31-17 series advantage. The Wildcats are looking to rebound from the 105-75 thumping put on them by the Ducks in Eugene on Dec. 22. All-time, Arizona is 19-4 in series games played in Tucson, 12-12 in Eugene, and 0-1 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Oregon 105, Arizona 75, Dec. 22, 2001. Oregon equaled a McArthur Court record with 13 three-point field goals and shot 54 percent from the floor in handing Arizona a 105-75 defeat, the worst for UA in the Lute Oslon era. The Ducks opened up a 10-point lead at the half on the strength of 66.7 percent shooting from behind the arc (8-of-12) and did nothing but extend the lead in the second, as the Wildcats could muster just 40.6 percent shooting for the game. Jason Gardner did manage to score his 1,000th career point in the contest, finishing with a team-high 19.
Nice Weekend: Freshman Salim Stoudamire helped Arizona win the Fiesta Bowl Classic honoring Bobbi Olson by averaging 19.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in the event's two games. He hit 14-of-20 (.700) attempts from the field, including 6-of-10 from three-point range to go with four assists and two steals. In Friday's win over Pepperdine, Stoudamire blistered the Waves with 9-of-13 FG shooting, 5-of-9 from three-point range, and finished with a career-best 25 points. He also added a career-high four rebounds to go with two assists and two steals. He followed that up with a 13-point, two-assist effort in the victory over Valparaiso, in with he hit 5-of-7 shots from the floor. For his efforts, Stoudamire was named to the Fiesta Bowl Classic all-Tournament team. On the year, Stoudamire is averaging 10.7 points and a UA freshman-high 27.3 minutes per game.
In-Season Tournaments: Arizona was able to win the Fiesta Bowl Classic championship for the 16th time in 17 years with Sunday's four-point win over Valparaiso. Arizona has an all-time record of 104-51 (.671) in in-season tournaments, including a 76-11 (.874) mark under Lute Olson. UA is 6-0 this season in in-season tournaments. See page 128 in the UA media guide for more information.
Comfortable at Home: The confines of McKale Center must be friendly, as the Wildcats are averaging 88.3 points in three home games this season. That figure is 4.4 ppg higher than its season average (79.6). In those three games, UA is shooting .392 (31-of-79) from three-point range and has a positive assist:turnover ratio (57:54).
Taking the Big Shots: Guard Jason Gardner didn't have his best shooting numbers of the season, but it was enough to garner Fiesta Bowl Classic Most Valuable Player honors after a 19-point, six-rebound, five-assist performance Sunday vs. Valparaiso. The junior from Indianapolis was just 4-of-13 from the floor, but all of his field goals (all treys) either gave Arizona the lead or tied the game. His biggest shot came with 1:28 remaining in the second half and UA trailing 68-67, when he drained a trey and was fouled on the play. He hit the subsequent free throw to give the Wildcats a 71-68 lead, one that it would not relinquish.
Sharpshooting: Led by Salim Stoudamire's 70.0 percent shooting this week, the Wildcats were able to post its best-shooting week of the year. In the two wins, Arizona connected on 59-of-119 shots, good for a .496 field goal percentage, including a .415 mark (17-of-41) from behind the arc. The Cats posted its best field goal percentage of the year in the win over Pepperdine Friday, posting a .540 FG percentage (34-of-63). Interestingly, Arizona has shot 50 percent or better in only six halves this season.
A Career Game: Junior Rick Anderson had a career day in Sunday's win, collecting his second career double-double. The forward equaled career highs with 18 points and 37 minutes played, and set a new career highs with 11 rebounds and five assists. All told, it was Arizona's sixth double-double of the year.
Board Control: The Wildcats also posted a +8 rebound margin in Sunday's win over Valparaiso (38-30), its second-highest rebound margin of the year. Arizona is 7-0 this season when outrebounding the opposition.
More Milestones: After surpassing the 1,000-career-point plateau last week, Jason Gardner achieved another career milestone on Sunday. In the win over Valpo, Gardner collected a season-best five steals to move into 10th place on the school's all-time steals list. Gardner now has 137 steals in 81 career games.
Stepping In, Stepping Up: Freshman Channing Frye continues to make his presence felt in the middle. Since moving into the starting lineup on Dec. 20, Frye has averaged 14.5 points and 11.3 rebounds in that four-game span. He also has three double-figure rebounding games and two double-doubles to his credit.
Clamping Down: Arizona did manage to tighten things down defensively, as the squad limited Pepperdine and Valparaiso to a combined .385 field goal percentage (57-of-148) and just 70.5 points. The field goal figure was .052 lower than the opponent's FG percentage entering the week, while the points per game average was 9.2 points less.
Winning The Close Ones: Arizona's four-point win Sunday continued another season-long trend, as the squad improved to 5-0 in games decided by five points or less. Last year's NCAA runner-up went just 4-4 in the close games.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 48-4 (.923) 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.
Missing: Junior Luke Walton sat out Sunday's win over Valpo due to a strained right Achilles' tendon. The injury, which occurred late in the first half of the Pepperdine game, forced him to miss a game for the first time in his UA career.
Juggling the Lineup: Walton's absence caused Arizona to juggle the starting lineup yet again. The quintet of Rick Anderson, Channing Fyre, Jason Gardner, Salim Stoudamire and Will Bynum marked the fifth different lineup this season. It was also the first time UA started a three-guard lineup.
Minute By Minute: Salim Stoudamire and Rick Anderson both logged career-high minutes in Sunday's win, as the duo combined for 75 minutes played. Stoudamire's 38 minutes equaled the most minutes played by a UA freshman this season, while Anderson's 37 minutes matched his career high set earlier this year against Texas. Additionally, Jason Gardner played all 40 minutes for the sixth time this year.
Upward Mobility: Freshman Dennis Latimore continues to show improvement with each appearance. The Halstead, Kan., product hit both field goal attempts, went 2-of-3 from the line and added four rebounds in the win over Valpo. Latimore is one of three freshmen, along with Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire, to see action in each game this season.
Doubling Up: Guard Will Bynum finished in double figures for just the second time this season (Florida) with 10 points vs. Valparaiso. Incidentally, Bynum also tallied seven assists in the two Fiesta Bowl Classic games.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play this week with 1,051 career points, which ranks 31st on the UA career scoring list, and a chance to move up at least two spots on the list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis are Matt Othick (1,055 points/1989-92) and Mike Bibby (1,061 points/1996-98).
At the Line: The Wildcats connected on 33-of-42 free throw attempts during the Fiesta Bowl Classic, good for a .786 free throw percentage. For the year, Arizona is shooting .743 (208-of-280) from the line and has made 40 more charity tosses than the opposition (208-168).
Hoping for a Turnaround: Arizona opens Pac-10 play at McKale Center hoping to reverse a few figures as it relates to league play. In two Pac-10 games, UA has been outshot from the floor (.504-.412), from three-point range (.463-.250), and from the line (.848-.815), while being outrebounded (36.0-31.5) and outscored (89.0-75.5). The only categories in which UA holds statistical advantages is in blocked shots (5-3) and steals (16-7).
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: The Cats hit the road for Pacific-10 Conference play next week, as the team travels to Washington. UA plays at Washington State on Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. PST, and at Washington on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m.