Jan. 7, 2003
Date: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003 Time: 8:30 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: Second-ranked Arizona (9-1, 2-0 Pac-10) opens the home portion of its Pacific-10 Conference schedule Thursday against Washington State (5-6, 0-2 Pac-10) ... It's is the team's fourth appearance on national television this season ... Arizona is 14-4 in Pac-10 home openers under Lute Olson and has won five of the last six ... The last time Arizona started 3-0 in league play (1999-2000) was also the last time it won a conference championship ... Tonight's game marks UA's third straight start after 8 p.m. local time.
The Rankings: Arizona rose to No. 2 in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Cats check in at the two spot after spending the first six weeks of the season as the nation's top-ranked club. UA has been ranked in 260 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 672-236 (.740) and 480-144 (.769) 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 fourth most Pac-10 wins (264) 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 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 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 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 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 286-29 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 214 of its last 228 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 36-2 against Washington State, including an 18-1 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: A balanced scoring and rebounding effort enabled Arizona to coast to the 80-65 last Saturday over Oregon State and earn a road sweep in Oregon for the first time since 1997-98. Hassan Adam's 14 points led five UA players in double figures, while Isaiah Fox's 10 boards led five players with as many as five rebounds. The game wasn't in doubt after a 10-0 run midway through the first half broke an 11-11 tie, and the UA lead reached as many as 21 points five times in the second half.
Scouting Washington State: The Cougars enter play Thursday riding a two game losing streak after Saturday's 98-83 home loss to UCLA. Prior to the weekend, WSU had won three of its previous four games. As a team, the Cougars average 78.6 points per game, shoot 42.0 percent from the floor, and lead the Pac-10 with 9.55 three-point field goals made per game. Opponents are outshooting and outscoring WSU through 11 games this season. Individually, junior guard Marcus Moore leads the team with averages of 21.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 52nd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 41-10 series advantage. Arizona has won 34 consecutive game in the series, including an 85-68 win on Feb. 9, 2002, in the last meeting. The series dates back to Dec. 22, 1959. All-time, Arizona is 20-5 in series games played in Tucson, 17-5 in Pullman and 4-0 in neutral-site games. See page 125 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 85, Washington State 68, Feb. 9, 2002: Luke Walton scored a game-high 26 points and Salim Stoudamire added 17 to lead Arizona to the 17-point win. Walton also grabbed 10 boards, good for his seventh double-double of the season, to lead a solid UA defensive effort. Arizona limited WSU to 39.3 percent shooting, outrebounded them, 43-35, and held the Cougars to 68 points, the lowest opponent point total of the year at McKale Center.
Not Your Average Freshman: Hassan Adams keyed a spotless 3-0 week for the Wildcats by averaging 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals as Arizona improved to 9-1 on the season. For the week, Adams shot 45.9 percent from the floor and 12 of his 20 rebounds were on the offensive glass. The 6-foot-4 guard opened the week by earning Fiesta Bowl Classic Most Valuable Player honors after tallying a game-high 17 points and six rebounds in UA's championship game win over Boston University on Dec. 30. Adams, who hit 7-of-9 field goals against the Terriers, became the first freshman to garner MVP honors in the 18-year history of the Fiesta Bowl Classic. The Los Angeles native was also stellar later in the week as the Wildcats swept the Oregon schools. He scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds (7 offensive) as Arizona defeated No. 9 Oregon and snapped the Ducks' 23-game homecourt win streak. Adams closed the week with a 14-point, five-board, two-steal effort in UA's win at Oregon State. He is averaging 14.1 points per game this season, while shooting 50.4 percent from the field.
Road Sweeps: Arizona picked up a road sweep of the Oregon schools for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign. The Wildcats start 2-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference for the first time since 1999-2000, when the club won its last conference championship. It marks just the fourth time in the Lute Olson era that Arizona has won its opening two league games on the road (1988, 1993, 1995), and twice (1988 and 1993) the team has gone on to win the Pac-10 title. Interestingly, both of those clubs went 17-1 in league play.
College Boards: Rebounding proved to be a key for the Wildcats in the weekend road wins, as UA outrebounded the Oregon schools by a combined 99-61, or a +19 rebound margin per game. Included in the effort was a 40-20 advantage on the offensive glass. Arizona dominated Oregon on the glass, posting a 50-28 rebound advantage, including a 23-10 mark on the offensive glass. Arizona's 99 total rebounds in back-to-back games in Oregon was its best consecutive game total of the season.
Senior Leader: In two games in Oregon last week, guard Jason Gardner passed out nine assists against only four turnovers in 74 minutes played. In Saturday's win at Oregon State, the senior tallied seven assists against just one turnover. Gardner has five or more assists in six of 10 games this season, including a season-high seven assists three times. He totaled 33 points, four rebounds and four steals in those two contests in Oregon.
In the Clutch: Senior Rick Anderson put forth two clutch performances in the absence of Luke Walton by averaging 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds on the Oregon sweep. He connected on 11-of-19 field goal attempts (.579), including 5-of-9 from three-point range, in the effort. He was especially good in the win over Oregon, as he tallied 15 points and eight rebounds.
Doubling Up: Sophomore center Isaiah Fox nearly tallied his first career double-double in Saturday's win, as he collected eight points and 10 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. That continues a run of solid play for the product from Santa Monica, Calif., 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds to go with a 65.4 FG percentage (17-of-26) in his last six games. He leads the Wildcats with a 65.2 field goal percentage.
Group Effort: Nearly every Arizona player contributed to the team's stellar effort on the glass this weekend, as six of the 11 players to see any action this weekend averaged at least 6.0 rebounds per game. Leading the way for the Wildcats was reserve forward Dennis Latimore, who grabbed 15 boards in the wins in Oregon. All told, the 6-foot-8 sophomore from Halstead, Kan., has 30 rebounds over his last four games.
That's More Like It: After working through a bit of a slump, freshman Andre Iguodala put forth two solid effort to close the week. The forward from Springfield, Ill., averaged 6.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the opening league sweep. Iguodala posted four points, seven boards and five assists Thursday at Oregon and followed that with nine points and six rebounds at Oregon State. Perhaps most importantly, his field goal percentage improved. Entering the weekend shooting just 30.4 percent from the floor, Iguodala connected on 5-of-11 (.455) of his field goal attempts.
Select Company: With three minutes played Thursday, Jason Gardner will move into third place on Arizona's all-time minutes played list (4,038). That means that only two players, Sean Elliott (4,499) and Steve Kerr (4,136), will have logged more time in an Arizona uniform that Gardner.
Offensive Balance: Led by Hassan Adams' 14 points, Arizona placed five players in double figures in Saturday's win at Oregon State. It marked the fourth time the Cats have accomplished the feat, and the first since the opening three games of the year.
Getting Closer: Sophomore Dennis Latimore came close to registering his first career double-double with 10 points and seven rebounds at Oregon State. Despite coming three boards short of the achievement, the 6-foot-8 forward hit a season best 4-of-7 field goals en route to his second career double-figure scoring effort. In addition to his board work, Latimore is shooting 53.1 percent from the field on the year, a marked improvement over last season's accuracy mark of 42.6 percent.
Off to a good Start: Earlier in the season, Arizona was allowing an unusually high number of offensive rebounds to the opposition. That wasn't the case last week in Oregon, as Arizona limited Oregon and Oregon State to a total of 20 offensive boards. Arizona's 32 defensive rebounds on Saturday were a season high.
Getting Defensive: Despite not having one of its best shooting nights, Arizona was able to build an 18-point halftime lead last Saturday with its defense. The Cats held Oregon State to an opponent-low 34.4 field goal percentage in the first 20 minutes and just 25 points. Arizona opponents are averaging just 33.9 points per game in the first half, 7.9 points less than Arizona.
Three-Point FG Defense: Arizona has done a good job of contesting the opposition's three-point attempts. On the season, UA opponents are hitting just 30.8 percent (62-of-201) of its attempts from behind the arc, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-10. Arizona managed to hold OSU to just .250 from three-point range (1-of-4) in the first half en route to a 30.0 percent game effort (3-of-10). No UA opponent has shot better than 39.3 percent from three-point range this season.
Good News/Bad News: Saturday's win over Oregon State saw Arizona attempt a season-low 14 free throws. The good news is that the team connected on 12 of those attempts for a season-best .857 percentage. It also marked the fourth time in 2002-03 that UA hasn't made more free throws than the opponents have attempted.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 69-7 (.908) 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.
Up Next: This brief two-game homestand concludes Saturday as the Cats host Washington. The Jan. 11 game is scheduled to tip-off at 5 p.m. MST and will be televised on Fox Sports Net Arizona.