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Men's Basketball Game Notes, 12/2/2006
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/01/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Game 6:  No. 16 Arizona (4-1) vs. Illinois (7-1)

 

Date:  Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006

Time:  3:15 p.m. MST

Location:  U.S. Airways Center (18,500), Phoenix, Ariz.

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

TV:  ESPN (Dave O’Brien/Jay Bilas/Bill Raftery)

 

Game Data:  No. 16 Arizona (4-1, 0-0 Pac-10) plays away from home for the first time in three weeks when it travels to Phoenix, Ariz.,  to take on Illinois (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) as part of the 2006 Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge ... The Arizona-Illinois match-up is the second half of a doubleheader that begins with Gonzaga-Texas at 1 p.m. MST ... Since the start of the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats and Illini have met a total of five times ... UA will cover a total of 5,210 miles to play its next three games.

 

The Rankings:  Arizona slipped to No. 16 in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll after winning its lone game last week.  The Wildcats have been ranked in each poll this season.

 

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 765-270 (.739) and 573-178 (.763) 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 750th collegiate victory on Dec. 31, 2005, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (316) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.771/316-94) 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 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, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 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 second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 337-35 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 265 of its last 284 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 17-8 against Illinois.

 

Last Time Out:  Arizona closed the first half on a 17-7 run and opened the second half with a 23-8 run to jump to a 25-point lead and cruise to an 89-75 win over UNLV on Tuesday.  The Cats held a 45-30 rebound advantage and a 21-6 margin from the free throw line.  Ivan Radenovic scored a career-high 27 points, while Marcus Williams added 24.  Chase Budinger chipped in with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Scouting Illinois:  The Fighting Illini (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) enter play today looking to rebound from Tuesday’s 72-66 loss to Maryland in Champaign, which was the team’s first loss in eight games to date.  Today’s game in Phoenix is Illinois’ first game outside of the Land of Lincoln this year.  As a team, the Illini average 74.8 points per game, shoot 47.0 percent (210-of-447) from the field and outrebound the opposition by +10.5 boards per game.  Sporting a balanced attack, six Illinois players average in double figures, led by Shaun Pruitt’s 12.8 points per game figure.  Pruitt also leads the club with a 7.5 rebounds per game mark.

 

The Series:  Today’s game is the 13th meeting of the two schools with the series deadlocked at six wins apiece.  Arizona has won four of the last six meetings, but Illinois captured the last ?- a 90-89 overtime triumph on March 26, 2005, in the 2005 NCAA Chicago Regional final.  As mentioned earlier, the two schools have met five times since November 2000.  All-time, Arizona is 3-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-3 in Champaign and 3-3 in neutral-site games.

 

The Last Meeting:  Illinois 90, Arizona 89 (OT), March 26, 2005:  After playing what Lute Olson would later describe as the best 36 minutes of basketball all season, the Wildcats found out how painful the last four minutes can be as the team squandered a 15-point lead and came up achingly shy of the Final Four.  UA committed four turnovers and missed three field goal attempts in the last four minutes as the Illini went on a 20-5 run to tie the contest.  Trailing by six points with 1:57 to go in overtime, Arizona clamped down and cut the deficit to one after five consecutive points by Hassan Adams, but could not get the decisive bucket on the final possession.

 

Against the Big Ten:  Arizona carries an all-time record of 29-28 (.509) record against teams that currently reside in the Big Ten Conference.  Since the start of the 2000-01 campaign, Arizona is 7-5 against Big Ten opposition.

 

Don’t Read this If you believe in the Sanctity of Streaks:  As a conference, the Pac-10 teams have combined to win 28 consecutive games entering play on Saturday.  Of those victories, three have come against nationally ranked opposition.

 

At Both Ends:  Arizona has posted a higher field goal percentage that its opponent in all five games this season.  UA has out-shot the opposition by a minimum of 11 percentage points in each game.  Outshooting the opposition is a good indicator of success, as Arizona is 4-1 this season and 18-4 (.818) when outshooting the opposition over the last two seasons.

 

Remarkably Consistent...at least Offensively:  In averaging 93.6 points per game so far this season, Arizona has averaged 47.2 points in the first half and 46.4 points in the second.  In all five games to date, Arizona has shot 48.5 percent from the field or better in opening stanza and scored between 46 and 49 points each time out.  The Cats average halftime lead through five games is 14.6 points.  Trouble brews in the second half, however, as the scoring margin dips to just +0.8 points per game.

 

Board Work:  Through five games, Arizona has shown marked improvement in its rebounding efforts.  To date, Arizona is averaging 41.8 rebounds per game and limiting the opposition to just 29.8 rebounds per game, a positive margin of 12.0 per game.  Over the last three games, Arizona has outrebounded the opposition by a minimum of 15 boards each time out.  By comparison, Arizona averaged 34.5 rebounds per game a year ago and had a -0.3 rebound margin.

 

Extend the Defense:  Through the first five games, UA opponents have averaged 10.8 made threes per game against the Cats.  In fact, 38.5 percent of the opposition’s field goals this season (54 of 140 total) have been treys.  What’s been good, especially of late, is that the opponent’s three-point field goal percentage has been falling.  Over the last two games, opponents have shot just 30.7 percent (23-of-75) from behind the arc, which has dropped the season three-point FG percentage to its current 38.0 figure.

 

That’s Why They Start:  The UA starting five has been the driving force behind the squad’s improved field goal percentage.  As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 53.5 percent from the field (168-of-314), which is nearly 100 points better than last year’s .446 figure.  All told, the UA starting five combines to shoot 56.5 percent (147-of-260) as a group with four topping the 50 percent plateau.  The quintet also shoots a respectable .431 (31-of-72) from three-point range.

 

Ascension:  Bolstered by his career-best 8.4 assists per game average, Mustafa Shakur enters play Saturday just three assists shy of 500 for his career.  The 6-foot-3 senior from Philadelphia, would become only the seventh player in school history to accomplish the feat.  In his 105-game career, Shakur averages 4.7 assists per game.

 

He’s Dinar:  He’s like Serbian currency, i.e. money, and his name is Ivan Radenovic.  The 6-foot-10 forward from Belgrade, Serbia, has been nothing short of stellar in the early season.  He’s averaging 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 68.8 percent (33-of-48) from the field.  Tuesday against UNLV, Radenovic notched a career-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds and zero turnovers in 27 minutes of action.

 

More From Marcus:  Sophomore forward Marcus Williams posted his best performance of the year in Tuesday’s win with season-high totals of 24 points and nine rebounds.  The 6-foot-7 product of Seattle knocked down a career-high 10 field goals (in 15 attempts), which included a career-best 4-of-4 shooting from behind the arc.  On the season, Williams is averaging 16.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field.

 

Because it’s never too early for comparisons:  Forward Chase Budinger tallied his first career double-double against UNLV with 15 points and 11 rebounds, which was UA’s third of the season.  The 6-foot-7 freshman from Encinitas, Calif., currently leads the Wildcats in scoring (19.4 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and ranks second in field goal percentage (.609).  His early-season performance has done little to diminish comparisons to Sean Elliott, UA’s all-time leading scorer and the 1989 national player of the year.  Through his first five college games, Budinger has tallied 97 points and 38 rebounds, which easily surpasses Elliott’s 68 points and 33 rebounds.  For comparison, Elliott averaged a team-leading 15.6 points to go with 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman in 1985-86.

 

In Reserve:  Guard Daniel Dillon set a new season high with six points in 18 minutes vs. UNLV.  The sophomore connected on 2-of-4 three-point field goals, establishing a new career high.  The Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, native is averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per game.

 

Sharing the Ball:  One of the reasons that Arizona leads the Pac-10 with an average of 18.8 assists per game has been the productivity of Mustafa Shakur, who has collected 42 of the team’s 94 assists.  The 42 assists marks the best five-game total of Shakur’s career and includes two games with 10 or more assists.

 

Always On the Run:  Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity.  Here are the ones of note to date:

25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)

34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)

28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)

18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)

23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)

 

Preseason Prognostications:  According to media members that regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish second in this year’s Pac-10 race.  Arizona received 13 first-place votes and 280 points overall and trailed only UCLA in the poll.  It is the firs time in five seasons that Arizona has not been selected as the preseason team to beat.  Incidentally, the Cats have been the preseason favorite in 11 of the last 17 seasons.

 

Preseason Kudos:  Mustafa Shakur and Marcus Williams were named to the 2006-07 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America team, the award’s national selection committee announced Oct. 17.  Shakur, a 6-foot-3, senior guard from Philadelphia, and Williams, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward from Philadelphia, are among 50 student-athletes on the list.  Arizona is one of only nine schools nationally to have two or more players on the list.

 

Early Signees:  Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period.  Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School;  Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.

 

Up Next:  Following today’s tilt, Arizona returns to action on Tuesday, Dec. 5, when the Cats take on Louisville in the Jimmy V Classic in New York City.  Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.

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