Dec. 4, 2002
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002 Time: 6 p.m. PST Location: Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl (12,414), San Diego, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico/Bill Walton)
Game Data: Top-ranked Arizona (3-0, 0-0 Pac-10) hits the road for the first time this season to take on San Diego State (2-2, 0-0 MWC) ... It is the Wildcats' first appearance in San Diego since Dec. 4, 1986 ... Arizona 175-130 (.573) all-time against Mountain West Conference opponents ... Can Arizona's pressure and depth wear down an Aztec roster that features four players averaging around 30 minutes per game?
The Rankings: For the fourth consecutive week, Arizona occupies the top spot in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, but it is the Cats' first unanimous selection in either poll. Arizona has been ranked in 256 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only. It is the 37th polling period in which the program has been ranked No. 1 in either national poll.
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 666-235 (.739) and 474-143 (.768) 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 (262) 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 283-29 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 211 of its last 225 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 4-1 against San Diego State.
Last Time Out: Arizona relied on its depth to methodically build and keep the lead in a 91-58 win over Saint Louis. A solid rebounding effort by the Billikens kept the deficit to less than 10 points through the first 15 minutes of play, but ultimately the pace was more to Arizona's liking. UA used a 15-2 run late in the first half to push the lead to 19 points. Jason Gardner's game-high 16 points led five Wildcats in double figures. Freshman Andre Iguodala added 10 boards in the effort.
Scouting San Diego State: The Aztecs (2-2 overall) enter today's game riding a two-game win streak after Monday's 87-57 win over UC-San Diego. SDSU averages 77.0 points per game, shoots 42.4 percent from the floor and posts a +7.0 rebound margin. Defensively, the Aztecs are limiting opponents to 71.2 points and 41.8 percent shooting (33.3 from three-point range). Individually, four SDSU players average in double figures, led by Mike Mackell's 18.0 points per game figure. Aerick Sanders leads the team by grabbing an average of 8.2 rebounds per game.
Last Meeting: Arizona 110, San Diego State 78, Dec. 4, 1986: Tom Tolbert (15), Craig McMillan (15) and Sean Elliott (12) combined for 42 first-half points in leading Arizona to the 32-point win. UA connected on 23-of-32 (.719) shots in the opening half and raced to a 62-42 lead at the break. The shot 46.1 percent (41-of-64) for the game and forced 23 SDSU turnovers.
Leading The Way: Once again, it was Jason Gardner leading the way for the Wildcats, he was one of five UA players to finish in double figures. The senior from Indianapolis hit 6-of-11 shots from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, to lead Arizona in scoring for the second straight game. On the year, Gardner is shooting 62.1 percent (18-of-29) from the field and 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from three-point range.
Field Goal Defense: The Wildcat defense definitely did its job in Tuesday's win as it held Saint Louis to just 58 points and 35.9 percent shooting (both UA opponent lows this season. Arizona held SLU to 27 points and 29.4 percent shooting (10-of-34) in the second half. The effort dropped the opposition's field goal percentage to .426 through three games.
Another Improvement: In its first three games, Arizona has limited its opponents to just 15 three-point field goals and a cumulative .263 percentage (15-of-57). That's a marked improvement over last season, as UA opponents shot 34.8 percent from three-point range and averaged 7.29 treys per game. Arizona held Saint Louis to just 12.5 percent shooting (2-of-16) from three-point range, including 0-of-6 in the first half.
Straight Shooters: One thing Arizona has done well this season is shoot the ball. Through three games, UA is shooting 51.4 percent (110-of-214) from the field. The team has posted field goal percentages of 50 percent or better in four of six halves this season. Interestingly, 32 of the team's 110 field goals this season have been either dunks or layups.
Multiple Weapons: For the third consecutive game, Arizona placed at least five players in double figures. For the record, Jason Gardner, Rick Anderson, Channing Frye and Hassan Adams have scored at least 10 points in all three games to date. Those four players are also shooting a combined 63.1 percent (65-of-103) from the field.
Ready to Run: Runs have been evident in each of Arizona's wins this season. The Cats used a 24-2 run over 4:59 of the first half in the win over Western Kentucky on Nov. 23, and a 17-2 run in the first 5:15 of the second half against Northern Arizona. As mentioned above, a 15-2 run over 4:00 of the first half keyed Wednesday's win over Saint Louis.
Finishing Strong: The Wildcats have proven to be a second-half club in the early part of 2002-03, as the Cats are averaging 51.3 points per game in the second half and holding opponents to an average of 32.0 points after the break. UA is shooting 51.4 percent (57-of-111) from the floor after the break. Just for comparison, Arizona is averaging 48.3 points, holding the opposition to an average of 31.7 points and shooting 51.5 percent from the floor (53-of-103) in the first half this season.
On the Glass: The Wildcats have a +10.4 rebound advantage (43.7-33.3) through the first three games. Since the start of last season, Arizona is 19-1 when outrebounding the opposition.
Protecting the Ball: After averaging 17.5 turnovers per game in its first two wins, Arizona improved its ball security against Saint Louis as it committed a season-low nine turnovers. The Cats are forcing 23.2 turnovers per game on the defensive end.
Combinations: Prior to the start of the season, Coach Olson stated that it would take some time to find the best lineup combinations. The Wildcat mentor has used a different starting lineup in each game this season.
Accepting Charity: Despite posting a season-low 31 field goals in Tuesday's win, Arizona was able to score 90-plus points for the third straight time courtesy of a solid effort from the free throw line. The Cats connected on a season-best 21-of-29 charity attempts and outscored the Billikens, 21-10, from the stripe. On the season, Arizona is shooting 70.4 percent (50-of-71) from the line.
All Cylinders: For the first time this season, Arizona had all of its players in uniform, as sophomore Salim Stoudamire saw action for the first time this season. The Portland, Ore., product hit 2-of-7 field goal attempts and finished with six points, a rebound and an assist in 12 minutes of action. It was his first game action since suffering a high (left) ankle sprain early in the preseason.
Moving Up: Senior Luke Walton hasn't let a right ankle injury hinder his move up the UA career assist list. Despite tallying just one point in the last two games, the 6-foot-8 forward collected a game-high seven assists (against one turnover) in Tuesday's win to move into ninth place on the school's all-time assist chart with 454. Next up on the list is Miles Simon (1994-98) at 455.
On the Glass: Freshman Andre Iguodala became the first UA player to grab at least 10 rebounds in a game this season, as some solid board work in the second half pushed him into double figures. Iguodala grabbed seven of his 10 rebounds, including four offensive, in the game's final 20 minutes. For the season, Iguodala leads all UA players with 13 offensive rebounds, and he ranks second overall with a 6.7 rebounds per game average.
Around the Bucket: Center Isaiah Fox was a force around the basket on Tuesday, as he hit all five field goal attempts and 10 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot. The five field goals were a career high for the sophomore from Santa Monica, Calif.
Mr. Consistency: Perhaps no UA player has been as consistently good as Rick Anderson since the start of practice. One of two players to make three starts (Gardner), Anderson is averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. Against Saint Louis, the 6-foot-9 forward was 3-of-3 from the floor and added four boards, two blocks and an assist.
Menacing: Dennis Latimore's numbers continue to improve as his minutes increase. In 20.0 minutes per game, the sophomore is averaging 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. Against Saint Louis, Latimore tallied six points, four rebounds, a career-high three assists and a blocked shot. Last season, he posted averages of 1.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.9 minutes.
Point-a-Minute: Freshman Chris Rodgers has made the most of his minutes. Through three games, Rodgers is averaging 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds, while ranking fifth on the squad with five assists and four steals. In Tuesday's win, the 6-foot-3 guard tallied five points, a rebound and an assist in four minutes.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 64-7 (.901) 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.
Talent Pool: With the 2002-03 NBA season just underway, no fewer than 10 former Wildcats are on NBA active rosters. Only two schools in the country (North Carolina 14; Kentucky 11) have more of its alumni on active rosters. Here is the list of Arizona players currently playing in the NBA: Gilbert Arenas (G/Golden State/2nd year), Mike Bibby (G/Sacramento/5th year), Michael Dickerson (G/Memphis/5th year), Richard Jefferson (F/New Jersey/2nd year), Steve Kerr (G/San Antonio/15th year), Chris Mills (F/Golden State/10th year), Sean Rooks (C/Los Angeles Clippers/11th year), Damon Stoudamire (G/Portland/8th year), Jason Terry (G/Atlanta/4th year), and Loren Woods (C/Minnesota/2nd year).
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: Arizona returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 15, as the squad hosts Texas in McKale Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.