Game 6: No. 24 Arizona (2-3) vs. Northern Arizona (4-3)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005
Time: 7:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN Arizona (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 24 Arizona (2-3, 0-0 Pac-10) returns to McKale Center to take on intrastate foe Northern Arizona (4-3, 0-0 Big Sky) ... Tonight’s appearance marks the Lumberjacks’ third Tucson appearance in the last four seasons ... The Wildcats lead the Pac-10 Conference with a +8.8 turnover margin ... Beginning tonight, Arizona will be at home for six of its next nine games.
The Rankings: Arizona slipped to No. 24 in the current Associated Press Top 25 and to No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls. UA has been ranked in 306 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 23rd season at Arizona and his 33rd overall as a college head coach with a career record of 743-259 (.742) and 551-167 (.767) 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 700th collegiate victory on Jan. 3, 2004, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (305) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.778/305-87) 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 23-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 21 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 best winning percentage over the past 18 years (479-118/.802) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 18 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 27 overall in his career, making him one of only four head coaches in NCAA history to record 27 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 323-33 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 251 of its last 268 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 11-0 against Northern Arizona.
Last Time Out: In a game that had as many ups and downs as a roller coaster, ultimately it was Houston that was smiling at the end of Saturday’s 69-65 decision. UA missed 16 of its first 17 shots and fell behind by as many as 18 points early, before it used a 21-5 run to close the gap to just two at the break. The Cougars quickly pushed the lead back to 15 in the second stanza before UA mounted a comeback and trimmed the deficit to three in the final seconds of play. Ivan Radenovic registered 12 points and 11 rebounds in the contest.
Scouting Northern Arizona: Pending Tuesday’s game vs. Tulsa, the Lumberjacks sport a 4-3 record following the team’s 88-78 win at Northern Colorado on Dec. 3. As a team, NAU shoots 47.1 percent from the field (179-of-380), including 36.8 percent (42-of-114) from three-point range, while averaging 72.1 points per game. Opponents muster only 28.6 rebounds and 62.0 points per game. Five players average in double figures, led by Kelly Golob’s 11.8 ppg average.
The Series: Tonight’s game marks the 115th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding an 87-27 series lead. Aside from Arizona State, no opponent has faced Arizona more than NAU. Arizona has won 21 consecutive games, and 36 of the last 39 in the series. All-time, Arizona is 58-5 in series games played in Tucson, 29-21 in Flagstaff and 0-1 in neutral-site games. See page 101 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 107, Northern Arizona 73; Nov. 24, 2003. Five Arizona players finished in double figures to lead the Wildcats to a 34-point win in its season opener and give Lute Olson his 500th win as the UA head coach. The visiting Lumberjacks scored the game’s first basket and the Cats answered with the next 13 points and only let the lead dip below 10 points once over the game’s final 45 minutes. Channing Frye led all scorers with 20 points, while Isaiah Fox posted his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Against the Big Sky Conference: The Wildcats are 96-32 (.750) all-time vs. Big Sky Conference foes. Other than NAU, Arizona hasn’t faced another Big Sky opponent since defeating Montana, 84-66, on Dec. 5, 1995.
Forward March: Ivan Radenovic tallied season-high totals of 12 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s loss at Houston. The junior forward connected on 3-of-4 three-point field goals and 3-of-4 free throws en route to the 22nd double-figure scoring, seventh double-figure rebound and the fifth double-double of his career. Radenovic also added a career-best two blocks, an assist and a steal in 30 minutes played. On the season, Radenovic is averaging 10.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Sluggish: Saturday’s loss dropped Arizona’s record to 2-3 on the season, which marks UA’s worst start since 1983-84 ?- Lute Olson’s first in Tucson. That season Arizona started the season 1-6. The loss at Houston was also Arizona’s first in December since a 66-65 loss at Louisiana State on Dec. 21, 2003. Since that loss, Arizona was 13-0 in games played in December.
OFF THE MARK: The Wildcats continue to struggle with its field goal percentage through five games, as the squad has connected on 38.9 percent (124-of-319) of its field goal attempts. Saturday against Houston, the Cats missed 16 of its first 17 shots en route to a 34.9 (22-of-63) shooting percentage. Arizona has shot better than 40 percent from the field in only one of its first five games. It’s been 43 seasons (1962-63) since a UA team failed to shoot at least 40 percent from the field for the year.
ON THE GLASS: On the strength of 25 offensive rebounds, Arizona grabbed a season-high 52 rebounds and a 52-27 rebound advantage vs. Houston. It marked the first time this season that Arizona has outrebounded the opposition. Usually a rebound advantage is a positive for the Cats, as the club is 79-10 (.888) over the last four seasons when outrebounding the opposition.
UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES: A field goal percentage of 34.9 percent will lead to a lot of rebounds on the offensive end, and the Wildcats did a nice job of collecting them at Houston, as 25 of UA’s 52 boards were of the offensive variety. When looking at the numbers, Arizona did a nice job of controlling the glass at both ends. Arizona grabbed 25 offensive rebounds compared with UH’s 20 defensive boards at one end and had 27 defensive rebounds over Houston’s seven offensive rebounds at the other. All told, Arizona held a 24-12 advantage in second chance points on Saturday.
TOUGH DEFENSE: Arizona’s defense continues to do a solid job this season, as the club held Houston to 69 points on Saturday, a figure that was 23 points less than its season average entering the game (92.0 ppg). On the year, UA opponents are averaging 64.4 points per game and shooting 43.8 percent from the floor.
LEADING THE WAY: Senior guard Hassan Adams equaled a season high with 21 points Saturday at Houston, which was his second 20-point game of the year. He connected on 9-of-16 FG attempts (2-of-5 from three-point range) to go with nine rebounds, an assist and a steal. Over last three games, Adams is averaging 9.0 rebounds per game.
Playing Positively: Freshman guard J.P. Prince put forth a solid effort in Saturday’s game, as he totaled four points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals in 26 minutes played. Each of those tallies were season highs for the 6-foot-6 native of Memphis, Tenn. On the season, Prince is averaging 1.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Doubling Up: As mentioned earlier, Ivan Radenovic posted his fifth career double-double with 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. It was also Arizona’s first double-double of the 2005-06 season. All told, three players have double-doubles to their credit while in Tucson: Hassan Adams (10), Radenovic (5) and Isaiah Fox (1). Incidentally, Fox’s double-double came Nov. 24, 2003, against Northern Arizona.
Stepping Up: After shooting 60.6 percent (57-of-94) from the free throw line through its first four games, the Wildcats did step at Houston and know down the charity tosses at a respectable rate. Arizona connected on 15-of-21 (.714), which marked the first time the club had shot better than 70 percent from the stripe this season.
Making Adjustments: Freshman Marcus Williams grabbed a season-high six rebounds at Houston. The 6-foot-7 forward from Seattle continues to make himself comfortable on the collegiate level, as he is averaging 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Williams ranks fourth on the team with eight assists and fifth with four steals.
In the Middle: Freshman Mohamed Tangara showed some of the relentlessness Saturday that should make him a productive player. In 14 minutes of action, the 6-foot-9 forward scored four points, grabbed three rebounds (two offensive) and added a blocked shot. Tangara is shooting 50 percent (4-of-8) from the floor in an average of 8.1 minutes per contest.
Juggling: Through five games, Arizona has used four different starting lineups for various reasons. Only one player, Mustafa Shakur, has started all five games. In total, nine different players have made at least one start for the Cats in 2005-06.
Unassuming: Mustafa Shakur tallied 12 points and five rebounds in Saturday’s game, bolstered by 6-of-6 shooting from the free throw line. The 6-foot-3 junior from Philadelphia is averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on the year, and those figures are 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds better than his career marks entering the year.
Finding Positives: Despite the fact that Arizona currently holds a 2-3 record, the team has shown the ability to post large scoring runs in each game to date:
29-1 run over 10:43 vs. Virginia, Nov. 27 (UVa went 0-of-12 with seven turnovers during the run)
21-6 run over 7:12 vs. Michigan State, Nov. 23 (no MSU field goals in last 5:44 of regulation)
20-4 run over 9:10 vs. Kansas, Nov. 21 (KU hits 3-of-first-12 FG attempts with nine TO)
21-5 run over 7:57 at Houston, Dec. 3 (two UH FGs in last eight minutes of first half)
21-9 run over 12:23 vs. Connecticut, Nov. 22 (UA hits 7-of-11 FG in run)
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 143-18 (.888) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 1-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points.
Tops in the Pac-10: In the annual poll of media members who regularly cover the Pac-10 Conference, Arizona was selected as the team to beat for the league title for the fourth year in a row and 11th time in the last 16 seasons. The Cats received 23 of a possible 34 first place votes and 325 points overall. Stanford (294), UCLA (263) and Washington (238) rounded out the top four spots. It is the 11th time in the last 16 seasons that Arizona has been tabbed the preseason Pac-10 favorite. Arizona has gone on to win the league title eight times in that span.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Chase Budinger (F, 6-7, 190) from Carlsbad, Calif., LaCosta High School; Jordan Hill (F, 6-8, 210) from Atlanta, Ga., The Patterson (N.C.) School; and Nic Wise (G, 5-10, 180) from Kingwood, Texas., Kingwood High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight’s game, Arizona hosts Saint Mary’s in an afternoon affair on Saturday, Dec. 10. The contest will tip-off at noon MST and will be carried live by FSN Arizona.