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02-29 UCLA Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/29/2008
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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (10-18, 4-13 Pac-10) finishes up its regular season schedule with a game at UCLA (14-14, 9-8 Pac-10) on Saturday, March 1 at 11 a.m. in Pauley Pavilion.? The Wildcats will go for its first Pac-10 road sweep since 2005, and will try to win in Pauley Pavilion in consecutive season for the first time in 10 years.

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Catch the Action:

As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Derrick Palmer and Shannon Hobson calling the action from courtside.? Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats and live video needs.

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USC Recap:

Arizona rebounded from an eight-point halftime deficit and held off a furious USC rally down the stretch for a 64-62 win over the Women of Troy on Thursday night in the Galen Center.? The win snaps Arizonaˇ?s five-game losing streak, as the Wildcats beat USC for the first time since 2005, a team that was 11-1 at home before Thursday nightˇ?s loss.

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As a team, Arizona shot 39.7 percent (25-63) from the field, and held USC to a 35.8 percent mark (24-67).? The Wildcats outrebounded USC 43-35, and finished with eight steals and four blocked shots.

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Individually for Arizona, freshman Ify Ibekwe tallied her fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and senior Ashley Whisonant posted 13 points, five assists and five steals.? Sophomore Rheya Neabors finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and freshman Tasha Dickey chipped in with 11 points.? Junior Amina Njonkou finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

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Camille LeNoir led USC with 16 points.

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Arizona jumped out to a 7-4 lead at the 12:07 mark after a jumper in the paint by Ibekwe, but USC responded with a 10-0 scoring run over the next 2:06 to take a 14-7 advantage.? The Wildcats started the game shooting 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from the field to go with nine turnovers, but put together a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 14-13 with 8:54 left in the first.? USC rallied with an 11-2 run from there to take a 25-15 lead at the 5:03 mark, and went into halftime up 29-21.? Arizona shot 28.1 percent (9-32) from the field in the first half, as USC posted a 41.4 percent mark (12-29).

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The Wildcats trailed 33-23 at the 17:01 mark in the second half, but rallied with a 14-0 scoring run over the next 2:28 to take a 37-33 lead with 14:29 left to play.? Arizona went up 46-42 after a three by Dickey at the 10:40 mark, and held a 52-47 lead after a pair of free throws by Whisonant with 7:24 left to play.

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USC tied the game up at 52-52 at the 6:31 mark, but Arizona responded with an 8-0 run over the next 2:10 to take a 60-52 advantage with 4:21 left to play.? The Wildcats were up 62-54 after a layup by Whisonant with 2:49 on the clock, but USC scored eight unanswered points to tie the game at 62-62 on a jumper by LeNoir with 36 seconds left to play.

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Arizona regained the lead at 64-62 after Dickey converted a layup with six seconds left.? LeNoir then missed a three as time expired on the ensuing possession, sealing the win for the Wildcats.

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A Quick Look at Arizona:

Arizona averages 62.7 points a game while shooting 40.6 percent from the field, 25.2 percent from three-point range, and 65.9 percent from the free throw line. Senior Ashley Whisonant leads Arizona with 15.5 points a game (fourth in the Pac-10) while posting 3.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game (second in the Pac-10).? Junior Amina Njonkou adds 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.

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About the Bruins:

Saturdayˇ?s game will be the 60th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Bruins on the hardwood, with UCLA owning a 40-19 all-time series advantage.? The Bruins beat Arizona 68-59 back on Dec. 30, but Arizona earned a 66-63 win over the Bruins on Feb. 15, 2007 in Pauley Pavilion last season.? Arizona has won eight of the last 14 matchups in the series.? Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats are 17-16 against UCLA.

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Streaky:

After beating New Mexico on the road in ˇ?The Pitˇ± (Dec. 15), the Wildcats had posted their fourth-straight win and were rolling with a 6-4 record.? Since that game, Arizona had lost eight-straight games before beating Washington State on Jan. 24, its longest losing streak since dropping nine-straight during the 2005-06 season.? The Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak with a two-point win over USC on Thursday night.

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The Newest Wildcats:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team has added walk-ons Ashley Gilpin and Sabreena Berger to its roster.?

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Gilpin, a senior from Las Cruces, N.M., is a 5-foot-9 guard currently studying psychology at the UA.? She hails from Mayfield HS, the same high school current Wildcat Marie McGee attended, and where the two were teammates.

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Berger, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, is from San Diego, Calif., and played high school ball at Point Loma HS.

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On the Road:

The Wildcats have been racking up those frequent flyer miles so far this season, as Arizona started the season playing nine of their first 15 games on the road.? Arizona will also end the regular season with five of its last seven games on the road.? With trips to the Bay Area, Washington, Oregon, Green Bay, Wis., Penn State, NC State, Long Beach, Calif., and New Mexico under their belts, the Wildcats have already racked up a grand total of 21,800 round trip miles.? This week, Arizona will add another 1,000 roundtrip miles to their portfolio with a trip to Los Angeles.? Arizona also gets to end the regular season with a trip to San Jose, Calif., for the Pac-10 Tournament.? Weˇ?ll keep you posted on when the Wildcats earn their free round trip to anywhere in the United States.

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Arizona Head Coach Joan Bonvicini (17th season):

The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 17 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.? Under Bonvicini's tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 11 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history.

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During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.? Bonvicini's success is mirrored in her players' accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 22 All-Pac-10 honorees, 17 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 18 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 287-221 (.565) mark at Arizona and is 612-292 (.675) in 29 years as a head coach. On Feb. 8, 2007, Bonvicini became the 18th coach in NCAA Division I women's basketball history to reach the 600 win milestone with a 65-61 victory over Oregon State in McKale Center. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.

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500:

Head coach Joan Bonvicini reached another milestone on Jan. 26, at Washington.? The game at Washington marked head coach Joan Bonviciniˇ?s 500th game as the leader of the Wildcat program.? She became just the sixth coach in Arizona history in any sport to coach 500 games.

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900:

In Arizonaˇ?s game at Stanford on Feb. 14, head coach Joan Bonvicini coached in her 900th career game on the sidelines.? She became the 14th head coach in NCAA Division I womenˇ?s basketball history to coach in 900 games.?

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Road Warriors:

With a wins against Long Beach State and New Mexico, the Wildcats managed to win two-straight road games for the first time since the 2004-05 season.? Arizona last won two-straight on the road in December of 2004 with wins at Chicago State and Washington.? Arizona won at USC for the first time since 2003 on Thursday night.

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Pit This:

Arizona went into New Mexicoˇ?s Pit and did something most visiting teams canˇ?t do: win.? The Wildcats snapped the Lobosˇ? 13-game home winning streak with their 44-36 win, as New Mexico was 7-0 on the season before that game.

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Slow Starts:

Through 28games, Arizona has been outscored 949-777 by opponents in the first half, and is 5-15 when trailing at the half.? When leading at the half or tied at the half, Arizona is 5-3.? Arizona trailed USC at the half 29-21, but rallied to outscore the Women of Troy 43-33 in the second half for a two-point win.

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Shoot better = W:

As simple as it may seem, Arizonaˇ?s best equation for winning ball games is to shoot better than its opponents.? The Wildcats are 10-4 so far this season when outshooting the opposition.? Arizona outshot USC 39.7-35.8 on Thursday night.

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Almost History:

Arizonaˇ?s 44-36 win over New Mexico came very close to some intriguing historical proportions.? Arizonaˇ?s 44 points in the win was the programˇ?s lowest point total in a victory since beating Utah, 46-36, on Jan. 17 1974.? Arizonaˇ?s school low for a point total in a win is 36 in a win (36-30) over Northern Arizona on Feb. 10, 1973.

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Making History:

Arizonaˇ?s shooting against Cal on Jan. 19 made some dubious school history.? In that game, the Wildcats shot a school record low 24.1 percent from the field (13-54) in Pac-10 play.? Arizonaˇ?s 13 field goals in the game are also a school record low in Pac-10 play.

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Toe That Line:

So far, the Wildcats have shown an ability as a team to get to the free throw line.? Arizona has made it to the line 510 times (18.4 free throw attempts per game), but is only shooting 65.9 percent (336-510) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting 71.4 percent (330-462) from the line against the Cats this season.

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Against USC on Thursday night, Arizona shot a season-high 91.7 percent from the line, connecting on 11-of-12 free throw attempts, which was a big reason for the win on the road over the Women of Troy who were 11-1 at home before that loss.

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Make Those Free Throws:

Free throw shooting has been a major factor in Arizonaˇ?s ability to win and lose games.? In the Wildcatsˇ? loss against USC (Dec. 28), Arizona shot 17-of-29 from the line (58.6 percent) against the Women of Troy, including a 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) mark in the second half.? Poor shooting from the line kept Arizona from making legitimate comeback attempt at the end of the game, as the Wildcats scored five-straight points in the final 22 seconds of the game to cut the deficit to seven points.? Against UCLA (Jan. 30), Arizona shot 19-of-29 from the line (65.5 percent) against the Bruins, including an 11-of-18 mark (61.1 percent).? Even though the 19 free throws were the second most for the Wildcats on the season, not being able to hit free throws in the second half prevented another comeback attempt, as Arizona cut the deficit to six points with 33 seconds to play in the game.

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Despite playing with six players, and with four players down the stretch, Arizona could have held off an Oregon State comeback (Jan. 3) had it hit its shots at the line. ?The Wildcats shot a season-low 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line against the Beavers, including a 3-of-7 mark in the first half, and a 3-of-8 mark in overtime.

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Against Oregon (Jan. 5), the Wildcats erased a 16-point second half deficit and trailed 56-53 with 1:10 left to play, but shot 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the charity stripe.? On Feb. 21, Arizona was 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from the line, including a 5-of-9 clip in the second half in a two-point loss to Washington at home.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

Arizona can put on some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through 28 games, Arizona has forced 550 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 19.6 turnovers a game.? The Wildcats forced 19 turnovers on USC on Thursday, scoring 24 points off of those turnovers.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 221 steals so far on the season for a 7.9 steals per game average.? Arizona ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in the steals department, and had eight against USC on Thursday.

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Rejectmuch:

Last season, Arizona tallied 51 blocked shots the entire season.? This year, it is a different story.? The Wildcats surpassed last yearˇ?s total in 15 games with 53 blocks, and own 101 blocks in 28 games.? Arizona currently ranks second in the Pac-10 in the blocks department behind Stanford, averaging 3.6 blocks a game.? A big reason for the complete 180 when it comes to blocks has with its aggressive play upfront.? Freshman Ify Ibekwe leads the team with 27 blocks on the year, and junior Beatrice Bofia is second on the team with 23 blocks.? Sophomore Rheya Neabors is third on the squad with 18 blocks so far this season.? Arizona has posted four blocks or more in 12 games so far, including nine of the last 15 contests, and has recorded 38 blocked shots in the last 10 games.

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With four blocks at USC, the Wildcats posted 100 blocks in a season for the first time since 2005.

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Paint Job:

So far, Arizona has been doing a solid job scoring in the paint.? Through 28 games, the Wildcats have posted 919 points in the paint, which accounts for 52.3 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (1,756), and average 32.8 points per game down low.? Arizona scored 38 of its 62 points against USC in the paint.

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Pac-10ˇ?s Best:

In Pac-10 play, a few Wildcats have been tearing it up.? Through 17 Pac-10 contests, senior Ashley Whisonant is averaging 16.0 points a game, second in the Pac-10, and a league best 37.9 minutes of action.? Junior Amina Njonkou is eighth in scoring and fourth in rebounding with 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a game in league play, and is the top offensive rebounder in conference play by pulling down 67 offensive rebounds.? Freshman Ify Ibekwe ranks fourth in blocked shots (1.46) and sixth in rebounding (7.8) in Pac-10 play.

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AW Leads the Way:

Senior guard Ashley Whisonant has been counted on to lead at the point this season, and she has flourished in that position.? Whisonant has played at an All-Pac-10 level all season long.? The Bowie, Md., native is averaging a team-high 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game while snagging 1.8 steals a contest.? She is also averaging a team-high 37.3 minutes per contest.? Whisonant ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring average, second in assists per game, and first in minutes per game.?

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Game of a Lifetime:

Ashley Whisonant showed why she is one of the best players in the Pac-10 at Oregon State on Jan. 3.? Whisonant led a team of just six players with a career-high 34 points in 48 minutes of action.? Her 34 points is the fourth-best mark in school history, one point shy of the all-time school record (35 points).? She tied a school record with 15 field goal attempts, and set a new school record with 29 field goal attempts.?

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All-Time Scorer:?

Ashley Whisonant scored her 1,000th career point in the final game of the season last year, and look for her to continue to climb up the Arizona all-time point leader list this season.? So far this season, Whisonant has moved up nine spots on the all-time Arizona scorers list, and currently ranks fifth all-time with 1,436 career points in 121 games (11.9 career ppg average).? Her 20 points at Washington moved her past Timi Brown (1987-91, 1,315 points) for fifth-place all-time in school history.? She now needs 31 points to tie former teammate Shawntinice Polk (2003-05, 1,467 points) for fourth all-time.? With 23 points against Washington last Thursday, she became just the fifth player in school history to amass 1,400 career points.

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On Fire:

So far this season, Whisonant has posted double-figures in points in 23 of 28 games, including 14 of the last 16.? She finished with a team-high 13 points against USC on Thursday.

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Ms. 100:

Senior Ashley Whisonant has been a constant in the Arizona lineup ever since her freshman season, and she is on pace to be one of Arizonaˇ?s all-time leaders in games played.? She played in her 100th career game against NAU (Dec. 6), and is on pace to finish her career with 123 games played, a figure that will rank No. 3 all-time in school history.

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Looking For a Dime:

With each dime Ashley Whisonant dishes out, she is moving to the top of the line on Arizonaˇ?s all-time career assists list.? With 397 career assists, Whisonant is now the No. 9 assists disher in Arizona history.?

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Whisonant has 132 is a career-high on the season, marking her third-straight season with 100 or more assists.

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Amina the Bull:

Junior forward Amina Njonkou is a force down low in the paint, and her strength allows her to bull over defenders.? The 6-foot-1 Cameroon native has posted double-figures in points in 20 of the last 22 games, including a span of 19-straight, posting nine double-doubles during that stretch.?

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On the season, Njonkou is averaging 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game while shooting 49.6 percent (128-258) from the field, the sixth-best mark in the Pac-10.? In Pac-10 play, Njonkou is averaging 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, and is shooting a team-best 74.5 percent (102-137) from the free throw line.

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Double-Double Machine:

Before her 17 point and nine rebound performance against Oregon State (Jan. 3), Amina Njonkou had posted double-doubles four straight games, putting her in some very exclusive company in the Arizona history books.? Njonkou became the first player to record four-straight double-doubles since Shawntinice Polk posted five-straight double-doubles during the 2003-04 season (Feb. 7-19).? Njonkou has 11 double-doubles so far on the season after finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds against Washington State last Saturday, the second best total in the Pac-10.? She missed her 12th double-double of the season by one point on Thursday, as she finished with nine points and 11 rebounds against USC.

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Ms. Wildcat:

Freshman Tasha Dickey, simply put, was born to be a Wildcat.? The daughter of two former Arizona athletes, Dickey has shown her tremendous athletic ability on the court.? On the season, she is averaging 6.7 points and 2.0 rebounds a game in 24.8 minutes of action.? Dickey is also third on the squad with 32 steals, and has started in 19 games so far this season.? Against USC, Dickey finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field, and made Arizonaˇ?s game-winning basket with six seconds left.? In Pac-10 play, Dickey posts 6.8 points a game.

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Big Lift:

Sophomore Rheya Neabors has been picking up her game as of late. The 6-foot-1 lefty forward has scored in double figures in eight of the last 11 games, including a 12-point performance to go with six rebounds against USC on Thursday. ?Over the last 11 games she is averaging 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 34.7 minutes a game.? On the season, Neabors is averaging 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds a game.

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Spark Plug:

When freshman Ify Ibekwe is on the floor, you will definitely take notice.? The 6-foot-1 forward seems to be everywhere on the court for the Wildcats, and always seems to be around to grab a rebound, block a shot or snatch a steal.? Since coming back from an eye injury, Ibekwe is averaging 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.? She has posted six or more rebounds in each of the last 12 games, including 11 against California, 10 against Washington, 13 against Oregon State and 10 at USC.? She also leads the team with 27 blocks on the season.? Through 22 games, Ibekwe leads the team with a 7.8 rebounds per game average and posts 10.4 points a game.? She finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds against USC before her hometown crowd, her second double-double in LA this season.

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Battle of the Ibekwes:

Ify will get her first shot at playing against her older sister Chinyere, a forward for UCLA, on Saturday.? In two games before her hometown crowd, Ify is averaging 13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks a game.? She posted 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with four blocks against Long Beach State on Dec. 9, 2007, and had 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with two blocks at USC on Thursday night.

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Cats Picked To Finish Eighth in the Pac-10:

The University of Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team was selected to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conferenceˇ?s head coaches.? The Wildcats garnered 31 points in the poll, as seven-time defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this yearˇ?s Pac-10 title.

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The Cardinal received eight of 10 first-place votes and 79 points, as Arizona State received a first-place nod and tallied 71 points to place second. California was tabbed to finish third with a first-place vote and 68 points, followed by fourth-place USC with 56 points and fifth-place UCLA with 44 points. Washington grabbed 41 points to place sixth, followed by Oregon (34), as Arizona (31), Oregon State (16) and Washington State (10) rounded out the poll.

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Tough Schedule:

Year in and year out, Arizona never runs away from a challenge, but rather takes on the best teams in the nation head on during the nonconference schedule before playing in the always daunting Pac-10 Conference.

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The Wildcats will play 29 games during 2007-08, 13 games in McKale Center and 16 on the road, with 14 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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The UA will take on 10 teams that competed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, with non-conference matchups against Middle Tennessee State, Pittsburgh, Boise State, New Mexico, NC State, and UW-Green Bay, along with Pac-10 series against California, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State.

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Rank This:

Arizonaˇ?s tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this yearˇ?s preseason rankings.? In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN and AP Preseason poll, five of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the regular season.? Arizona will face No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 California, No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 25 NC State.? Additionally, six other Arizona opponents (Middle Tennessee, USC, New Mexico, UCLA, Boise State and Wisconsin-Green Bay) each received votes in the poll.

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Up Next:

Arizona will play in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament next week in San Jose, Calif.

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