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USC Notes 1/28/2008
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/28/2008
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Game 21:? ? Arizona (14-6, 4-3) at USC (13-6, 4-3)

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Date:? Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Time:? 7:30 p.m. PST

Location:? Galen Center (10,258), Los Angeles, Calf.

Radio:? Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

TV: FSN (Ted Robinson/Marques Johnson)

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Game Data:? Arizona (14-6, 4-3 Pac-10) heads to west to Southern California to face USC (13-6, 4-3 Pac-10) Thursday at the Galen Center ... Expect a tight game as Arizonaˇ?s last three Pac-10 road games have been decided by a total of 13 points (4.3 ppg) ... In conference play, the Wildcats average 63.3 points per game in three road games and 77.5 ppg in four home games.

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The Rankings:? Arizona is unranked in both polls for the third consecutive week.? For the season, the Wildcats have been ranked in either or both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coachesˇ? Top 25 polls in eight of 13 polling periods this season.

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Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . will begin his 25th season at Arizona and his 35th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 780-280 (.736) and 589-187 (.759) at Arizona upon his return from a leave of absence, which was announced on Nov. 4 ... 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 775th collegiate victory on Jan. 24, 2007, and became Arizonaˇ?s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (327) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.764/327-101) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLAˇ?s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles)?... During his 24-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, ˇ®89, ˇ®90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 23 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, ˇ®88, ˇ®89, ˇ®93, ˇ®94, ˇ®98, 2003), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ˇ®81) and directed the UA program to the nationˇ?s third-best winning percentage over the past 20 years (519-142/.785) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 52 NBA Draft picks, including 31 at Arizona ?C 25 alone since 1990 ... Heˇ?s led UA to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 29 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 344-40 (.896) in McKale Center and have won 272 of its last 296 home games ... He is assisted by Kevin Oˇ?Neill, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon.

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Last Time out:? For the second consecutive game, the Wildcats displayed a bit of offensive assertiveness as it rolled to a 84-69 win Saturday over Washington.? Arizona shot 62.2 percent from the field, including 59.1 percent from three-point range, in posting 84 points which is its highest total in Pac-10 play this season.? Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger combined for 10 three-point field goals and 51 points in helping UA build as much as a 26-point lead.? Jordan Hill tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds.

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Scouting USC:? The Trojans enter play Thursday with a 13-6 record (4-3 Pac-10) following Saturdayˇ?s 95-86 overtime win at Oregon.? Through 19 games, USC averages 69.7 points per game, shoots 48.2 percent (477-of-990), and posts a -1.1 rebound margin per game.? Opponents shoot 37.6 percent from the floor and are outscored by an average of 8.2 points per game.? Individually, four Trojans average in double figures, led by O.J. Mayo, who averages 19.9 points? per game.? Taj Gibson leads USC with an 8.2 rebounds per game average.

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The Series:? Tonightˇ?s game is the 90th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 53-36 series advantage. UA has won 14 of the last 20 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, but USC captured the last contest, 80-75, in Tucson on Feb. 15, 2007. All-time, Arizona is 27-9 in series games played in Tucson, 23-27 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 101 in the UA media guide for more series information.

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Last Meeting:? USC 80, Arizona 75, Feb 15, 2007:? Holding a 71-67 lead with 5:49 to go, Arizona was outscored 13-4 the rest of the way as USC won in Tucson for the first time since January 1985.? Ultimately, turnovers killed the Cats, as the team amassed 16, including three in the last five minutes.? All told, USC held a 20-13 points off turnovers advantage in a game decided by five points.? UA shot 50 percent from the field and posted a 37-29 rebound advantage, but had no collective answer for USCˇ?s Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart, who each scored 26 points.

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A Different Look on the Sidelines:? Prior to the Nov. 4 exhibition game, it was announced that UA head coach Lute Olson would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter.? It was announced on Dec. 7 that Olson would not return this season.? During this period, assistant coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill will handle the head coaching responsibilities.? Oˇ?Neill, who was tabbed as Olsonˇ?s successor on Dec. 18, has 11 seasons of experience as an NCAA Division I head coach, where he compiled a 152-165 (.479) record while at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. Oˇ?Neill spent the last seven seasons in NBA circles.? During Olsonˇ?s leave of absence all games will be credited to Oˇ?Neillˇ?s coaching record.

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Pretty Darn Good:? In two games last week, Jerryd Bayless averaged 24.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in helping the Wildcats sweep a pair of league games.? The freshman from Phoenix, Ariz., shot 65.2 percent from the field (15-of-23), and 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from three-point range and 100.0 percent (11-of-11) from the free throw line to go with four steals.? He opened the week with a game-high 23 points (6-of-12 FG), six assists and two steals in 38 minutes in a 12-point win over No. 6 Washington State.? He followed? that up by connecting on 9-of-11 field goals en route to a game-high 26 points, including 18 points in the second half of a 15-point win over Washington.? He added six assists and a pair of steals.? Bayless has 20 or more points in 10 of 16 appearances this season.? On the year, he averages 19.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

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Making Shots Certainly Helps:? The Wildcats found its collective shooting eye this week, connecting on 58.8 percent (50-of-85) of its attempts in the two wins.? Arizona shot 55 percent (22-of-40) from the field against Washington State and improved that to 62.2 percent (28-of-45) vs. Washington.? Included in Saturdayˇ?s effort was a season-best .696 (16-of-23) shooting in the first half.? Field goal percentage has been a telling statistic for the Cats, as the club is 10-0 in games this season when it shoots 50 percent or better from the field.

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Behind the Arc:? Buoyed by Chase Budinger (9) and Jerryd Bayless (8), who combined for 17 three-point field goals, the Wildcats set season highs in three-point field goals made as a team in each game this week.? UA opened the week by sinking 12 treys Thursday vs. Washington State, and topped that with 13 Saturday against Washington.? For the week, Arizona shot 58.1 percent (25-of-43) from behind the arc.? That was the fourth and fifth times this season that UA has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range.

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Scoring 80:? Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 167-19 (.898) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.? Arizona is 5-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

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Whatˇ?s your 20:? Two guys combining for 40-plus points can help you win. In Arizonaˇ?s case, Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger have done it for the past three games and UA won each. Saturday against Washington it was a 51-point combo, the biggest two-guy output of the season. (Baylessˇ? 33 and Budinger or Jordan Hill with 17 each at Houston was the reigning high.) UA also won its other pair of 20-20s, by Bayless and Hill at Illinois, and Budinger and Hill against Oregon State. For a team that averages 74 points per game like Arizona, a pair of threats can be very useful.

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Find the Open Guy:? Good ball movement has become a calling card for the Wildcat offense, which shows up most often in the assist category.? Arizona had assists on more than 70 percent of its field goals in both games this week, a combined 74 percent (37 assists on 50 field goals) over the last 80 minutes played.? The Wildcats tallied 20 assists Saturday, marking the seventh time this season the team has passed out at least 20 helpers in a game.? On the season, Arizona has 332 assists on 516 FGs (64 percent).

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On the hardwood:? Senior guard Jawann McClellan has become an iron man of note after a career previously dotted by sore knees and other tribulations. He, Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger each average 35 minutes per game and McClellan actually has a slim two-minute overall lead in the maple vs. pine sweepstakes.? His overall play has helped him post three 40-minute games plus a 41-minute overtime appearance. His shooting is up, he passes the ball well, rebounds effectively, likes defense and is an unflappable presence on the floor ˇ? where Kevin Oˇ?Neill usually keeps him.

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More from the Bench:? Sophomore guard Nic Wise has quietly established himself as one of the most productive sixth men around, averaging 8.1 points, 4.0 assists and a team-leading 1.8 steals in 27.4 minutes per game.? The 5-foot-10 Wise has been even more productive of late, posting averages of 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game over the last nine games.? In that span, Wise has also connected on 50 percent (15-of-30) of his three-point FG attempts.

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A Developing Presence:? Jordan Hill amassed his sixth double-double this year (ninth career) with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Washington to go with five blocked shots.? Hillˇ?s efforts helped equalize the Husky inside presence just enough, as he had nine (of his 11 total) boards on the defensive end, just two less than the UW squad grabbed at that end of the floor. The sophomore from Atlanta, Ga., tallied 11 blocked shots in two games last week and now has 40 swats on the season (2.0 blocks per game).? Hill has 21 blocked shots in his last five games played.

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As Chase Goes... so goes the Wildcats.? In this current three-game win streak, sophomore forward Chase Budinger is averaging 22.7 points, while shooting 21-of-41 (.512) from the field to go with nine steals.? Budinger has scored 20 or more points in each of those games and has done so eight times this season.? He ranks second on the club with a 17.7 ppg average.? He was named to the midseason top-30 watch lists for both the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy.

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Making the Most of his Time:? Freshman Jerryd Bayless posted an efficient 29 minutes Saturday in the win over Washington.? The guard from Phoenix, Ariz., connected on 9-of-11 field goals, including 5-of-6 from three-point range (both made FG totals are career highs) and six assists.? Bayless has now scored 20 or more points in three straight games and in 10 of 16 games this season.? He is averaging 19.9 points per game and shooting 48.5 percent (94-of-194) from the field.

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Usually We Play them Close:? Arizona won two games last week by an average of 13.5 points per game, marking the first time since Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 that the Wildcats had won back-to-back games by double figures.? Additionally, UA averaged 80 points per game in the back-to-back wins over Washington State and Washington, which was the first time the Cats had accomplished the feat since those same two games when Arizona defeated Cal State Fullerton (91-65) and Texas A&M (78-67).

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Early Signees:? The Arizona coaching staff signed four student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period.? Brandon Jennings (G, 6-0, 170) from Lakewood, Calif., Oak Hill Academy; Brendon Lavender (G, 6-4, 180) from Mesa, Ariz., Mountain View High School;? Emmanuel Negedu (F, 6-7, 230) from Bloomington, Ind., Brewster Academy; Jeff Withey (C, 6-11, 240) from San Diego, Calif., Horizon High School, will join the squad next fall.? According to rivals.com, this class was ranked as the seventh-best nationally.

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Up Next:? The Wildcats head across town for a Saturday evening game at UCLA.? Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST on Feb. 2 and can be seen nationally on ESPN.? Over the second half of the Pac-10 schedule, UA will have five of nine games at home.

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