Feb. 15, 2002
Date: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002 Time: 3 p.m. PST Location: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (16,161), Los Angeles, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: ABC (Mark Jones/Ann Meyers)
GAME DATA: No. 9 Arizona (17-7, 10-4 Pac-10) plays its final road game of the regular season Saturday at No. 25 USC (17-6, 9-4 Pac-10) in a regionally-televised game on ABC-TV ... The Cats have won its last two appearances on ABC by an average of 36 points ... Arizona is 4-5 on the L.A. road trip since 1997-98 ... The Wildcats are averaging 78.3 points per game (4.5 points less than its season avearage) over its last six road games and are shooting .506 (173-of-342) in that span ... In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is 112-58 (.659) in conference road games, a Pac-10 best.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona returned to the nation's top 10 after a pair of wins last week, rising to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 249 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH LUTE OLSON . . . is in his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 656-232 (.739) and 464-140 (.768) at Arizona ... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (260) 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 19-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 and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 17 years in a row, which is the 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 14 years (377-87/.813) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona - 15 alone since 1990 ... A Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last two years, Olson has led UA to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 23 overall in his career, making him one of only seven head coaches in NCAA history to record 23 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 278-28 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 206 of its last 219 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 31-9 vs. USC, including a 11-7 mark at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona did everything it needed to in order to win except rebound, and it came back to haunt the Wildcats in a 77-76 loss at UCLA on Thursday. The Bruins posted a 45-28 rebound advantage, including 17 offensive rebounds as UCLA erased a six point halftime deficit. Jason Gardner scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting (7-of-10 from three-point range), but couldn't offset the duo of Dan Gadzuric and Matt Barnes, who combined for 35 points and 31 rebounds.
SCOUTING USC: Led by David Bluthenthal's 21 points, the Trojans (17-6, 9-4 Pac-10) snapped a two-game losing streak on Thursday with its 83-61 win over Arizona State. USC is now 9-1 at home this season and entered the week averaging 76.4 points, carries a +2.5 rebound advantage and shoots 44.4 percent from the field. Through 22 games, four Trojans average in double figures, led by Sam Clancy's 19.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game averages.
THE SERIES: Today's game marks the 77th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 45-31 series advantage. The Wildcats have won eight of the last nine games in the series, which dates back to 1922, including a 97-80 win in Tucson on Jan. 17. All-time, Arizona is 23-8 in series games played in Tucson, 21-23 in Los Angeles, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 87 in the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 97, USC 80, Jan. 17, 2002. Luke Walton registered his first career triple-double and the Wildcats played its best game of the season in handing first-place USC its first Pac-10 loss. Walton tallied 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in posting the 15th triple-double in league history. Arizona jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 2:30 and put it out of reach at 34-7 with 6:03 left in the opening half. Five UA players finished in double figures and the team shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the second time in its last three games.
STRANGE OCCURRENCE: A number of statistical rarities occurred in Arizona's one-point loss on Thursday. It marked the first time the Wildcats had lost a game this season when leading at the half. Entering the week, UA was 10-0 when leading at the break. All told, Arizona led for 32:26 Thursday night, but could not close it out. It was just the Cats' second loss in 15 games when leading with 5:00 to go in the second half.
OUTREBOUNDED: UCLA's single greatest weapon in Thursday's game was its ability to control the glass. The Bruins' +17 rebound advantage was the largest of the season against Arizona. Included in that number was a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass. How important is rebounding to Arizona's success? The Wildcats are 10-1 when outrebounding the opposition and 7-6 when tied or trailing.
2ND HALF TEAM: Thursday's game also saw the Wildcats fail to do one thing it had done well for most of the season. The squad was outscored in the second half, 43-36. Through 24 games, Arizona is outscoring opponents 43.0-40.5 in the second half. The 36 points scored by Arizona in the second half at UCLA was the second-lowest second half point total of the year.
BOUNCING BACK STRONG: After shooting just 26.9 percent (7-of-26) of his field goal attempts last week, Jason Gardner rebounded to hit 8-of-14 (.571) of his attempts Thursday, including 7-of-10 from three-point range, to finish with 25 points. It was his 22nd double-figure scoring game of the year, and his 12th game of 20 or more points.
40-MINUTE MEN: It would be hard to believe that a pair of teammates log as much playing time as Arizona's Jason Gardner and Luke Walton, both of whom played 40 minutes at UCLA. Gardner (37.9) and Walton (36.8) combine to play 74.7 minutes per game. Gardner has played 40+ minutes in 10 games this year, while Walton has played 40+ minutes four times this season, including two 45-minute efforts.
MOVING UP: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,308 career points, which places him 18th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Frank Smith, who tallied 1,329 points from 1980-83. Incidentally, Gardner has 66 double-figure scoring games in his 94-game career.
LONG-RANGE MARKSMAN: Freshman Salim Stoudamire continues to display skills that make him one of the league's best three-point shooters. On the year, the guard from Portland, Ore., has connected on 50-of-116 (.431) three-point attempts, a figure that ranks seventh in the Pac-10. In his last 11 games, Stoudamire is shooting .471 (24-of-51) from behind the arc. Incidentally, his three-point FG percentage now ranks second on the Arizona career three-point FG percentage list, trailing only Steve Kerr's .573 long-range accuracy mark.
FROM BEHIND THE ARC: The Wildcats did shoot it pretty well from three-point range on Thursday, as the squad hit 11-of-22 attempts from behind the arc. Jason Gardner led the way with seven treys in 10 attempts, and Rick Anderson equaled a season high with two treys (in three attempts).
CLOSE CALLS: Thursday's one-point loss dropped the Arizona record to 6-2 in games decided by five points or less. In games decided by 10 or less, Arizona is 12-4.
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: After losing to UCLA, the Arizona record against ranked teams is now 7-4 this season. The Cats haven't lost consecutive games to ranked opponents this year.
SCORING 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 56-6 (.903) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. Last year, the Cats were a spotless 17-0 when scoring at least 80 points, and are 11-3 this year.
TOP-10 LIST: Jason Gardner continues to move himself up various career top-10 lists. In addition to being the career leader in minutes per game (35.3), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (223), second in three-point FG attempts (604), eighth in steals (155), 10th in assists (423), free throws (343), and starts (93). Gardner and Damon Stoudamire are the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point field goals.
DROPPING DIMES: In addition to 17 points and three steals, Luke Walton did manage to collect a game-high eight assists in Thursday's game. The San Diego native, who leads the Pac-10 with a 6.0 assists per game average, has collected at least six assists in eight of his last 11 games.
NATION'S BEST: Jason Gardner was named one of 20 finalists for the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year award. He is averaging 20.3 points, 3.3 boards and 4.8 assists through 24 games and is one three finalists from Pac-10 schools.
FROM THE FLOOR: Since rising to the top of the Pacific-10 Conference's field goal percentage list, freshman Channing Frye has struggled from the floor of late. In his last two games, the Phoenix native has connected on just 5-of-17 (.294) of his attempts from the field. Despite that fact, Frye is still shooting .601 from the field this season, and .631 in conference play.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Rick Anderson tallied his fifth double-double of the season Thursday with a 15-point, 10-rebound effort. All told, it was Arizona's 17th double-double of the season. Luke Walton leads the team with seven, while Channing Frye and Anderson are tied for second with five apiece.
50 PERCENT CLUB: With Luke Walton shooting 75-of-132 (.568) from the floor over his last 11 games, he has upped his season FG percentage to .502. He is one of four UA players (with a reasonable number of attempts) that currently boast a field goal percentage of 50 percent or better (Frye/Fox/Anderson).
BYNUM STEPS UP: Freshman Will Bynum scored all six of his points in the second half Thursday and added two boards, an assist and a steal in 19 minutes of action. He hit two key field goals in the second stanza that helped the Cats remain in the lead until the game's final minutes.
MORE REBOUNDING NOTES: Arizona's 28 rebounds were a season low, while its six offensive boards equaled a season low. About the only remaining positive was the Salim Stoudamire equaled a season-high with four boards of his own.
EARLY SIGNEES: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
UP NEXT: Following Saturday's game, Arizona returns home for its final three regular season games. The Cats host intrastate rival Arizona State in McKale Center on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. MST.