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Houston Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/10/2008
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Game 15:? No. 24 Arizona (10-5) at Houston (11-2)

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Date: ? Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008

Time: ? 2 p.m. PST

Location: ? Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479), Houston, Texas

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

TV: ?ESPN2 (Brad Nessler/Jimmy Dykes)

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Game Data: ? No. 24 Arizona (10-5, 1-2 Pac-10) steps out of conference for the final time of the 2007-08 regular season Saturday against at Houston (11-2, 0-0 C-USA) ... Three current Wildcats call Houston home ˇ? Jawann McClellan, Fendi Onobun and Nic Wise ... In 10 homes games to date, UA averages 77.9 points and shoots 51.8 percent from the floor, and slip to 61.5 ppg and 41.1 percent in four true road games.

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The Rankings: ? According to the polls dated Jan. 7, Arizona checks in at No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.? UA is not ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 26.

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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: ? Arizona squandered too many chances to put this game away and ultimately had no answer for James Harden as Arizona State earned the 64-59 overtime win on Wednesday.? UA built an early 12-point lead, led by as many as 10 in the second half, and held a five-point cushion with 1:53 remaining in regulation before succumbing in the extra session.? ASUˇ?s Harden proved to be the difference, scoring 22 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, including five in overtime.? Jordan Hill collected 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Wildcats.

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Scouting Houston: ? Idle for the last 10 days, the Cougars enter play Saturday with an 11-2 record following a 95-89 loss at Massachusetts on Jan. 2.? Through 13 games, UH averages 79.1 points per game, shoots 42.0 percent (331-of-788), and posts a -0.5 rebound margin per game.? Opponents shoot 41.1 percent from the floor and are outscored by an average of 13.4 points per game.? Individually, three Cougars average in double figures, led by Robert McKiver, who averages 20.8 points? per game.? Dion Dowell leads Houston with an 8.2 rebounds per game average.

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The Series: ? Todayˇ?s game is the 10th meeting of the two schools with Houston holding a 5-4 series advantage. Arizona has won three of the last four meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1967, including the last meeting, 87-62, on Dec. 17, 2006, in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 3-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-4 in Houston, and 0-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 100 in the UA media guide for more series information.

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Last Meeting: ??Arizona 87, Houston 62, Dec. 17, 2006: ? Arizona got a balanced offensive effort, held Houston to 30 points below itˇ?s season scoring average and posted a +32 rebound advantage in earning the decisive 25-point win.? Five Wildcats finished in double figures, led by Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams who each collected double-doubles, and the team shot better than 50 percent for the fifth time this season.? By contrast, Houston shot a season-low 31.2 percent from the field.

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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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Controlling the Glass: ? After starting the year averaging 4.2 rebounds per game through seven games, Jordan Hill has began dominating the boards since, averaging 11.3 per game in the last eight contests, including five double-doubles. His 14 boards at Arizona State Wednesday pushed his season average to 8.1 and puts him in the neighborhood for a double-figure season average ˇ? something not accomplished at Arizona since its first season in the Pac-10 when Larry Demic charted 10.3 rebounds per game in 1978-79. Pete Williams (9.9 in 1984), Ben Davis (9.5 in 1996) and A.J. Bramlett (9.4 in 1999) came close.

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Down but not out: ?? One reason for Jordan Hillˇ?s board-work improvement is, of course, playing time. He opened the year posting four or five personal fouls in five of those initial seven games. Still, while PFs have been a factor in keeping Hill out of action in large portions of some first halves, he only has been disqualified one time (season opener vs. Northern Arizona). In fact, in his 44-game career that is the only time he has fouled out.

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Needing a Stop: ? Arizonaˇ?s last two games, both losses, included one factor ˇ? a go-to guy from the opposition dominating in a half. Against Oregon it was Malik Hairston with 17 points in the first half (and 29 total) to give the Ducks what proved to be an insurmountable lead (48-37 at the break; 37-36 Arizona in the second frame). Thursday at Arizona State it was James Harden with 22 points in the second half (26 total) to wipe out an Arizona 28-21 halftime lead (34-27 ASU in the second frame). The ASU comeback gave Arizona its first loss in seven tries in games it led at the half.

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Creating Depth: ? Arizonaˇ?s thee-guard starting lineup Wednesday that included Nic Wise, Jawann McClellan and Daniel Dillon also left the Wildcat coaching staff with a dilemma ˇ?- no active perimeter players on the bench.? Due to that fact, freshman Zane Johnson was brought out of redshirt.? The 6-foot-5 guard from Phoenix, Ariz., played eight minutes in his college debut and knocked down a trey with 43 seconds to go in the first half.? It marks the third time in the last four years that Arizona has brought a player out of redshirt in January (Kirk Walters, 2004-05; Fendi Onobun, 2005-06).

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Itˇ?s Anyoneˇ?s Guess: ? The continuing rash of injuries injury forced UA head coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill to use his eighth different starting lineup in only 15 games Wednesday at Arizona State.? By comparison, UA used 11 different lineups in the previous 64 games entering this season.? Only Chase Budinger and Jawann McClellan have started all 15 games for the Cats to date.

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Spreading the Wealth: ? Winning efforts require offensive balance and Arizona is no different than any team in that regard. In dropping three of its last four contests while leading scorer Jerryd Bayless sidelined due to injury, the Cats could have used a fourth scoring option besides Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Jawann McClellan or Nic Wise ˇ? the double figures guys in those games. Arizonaˇ?s other two losses came with only three (vs. Virginia) and two (at Kansas) players finishing in double figures.

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The Iron Unkind: ? Shooting isnˇ?t everything. Arizona suffered its third-worst shooting night at ASU (38.9 percent) while ASU won with a modest 39.6 rate. The Cats won their two worst-shooting games ˇ? .383 against Northern Arizona and .346 at UNLV. One reason for UAˇ?s low figure in Tempe was a .286 mark from three-point range (6-for-21). In its last two losses Arizona has shot a combined 26.3 percent (11-of-42) from beyond the arc.? Not entirely coincidental, Arizonaˇ?s four worst shooting nights have come when the team has attempted more than 20 three-point field goals.

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But it Helps: ? Shooting may not be everything (see above), but it makes the effort a bit easier.? This season Arizona is 4-5 when shooting less than 50 percent from the field and 6-0 when shooting better than 50 percent.? How important is that?? The Cats are 8-0 this year when shooting better than the opposition and 2-5 when not.

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Going the Distance: ? Chase Budinger played the second complete game of his career Wednesday at ASU, logging 45 total minutes, giving him 85 minutes in the last two games. Forty minutes against Oregon? on Jan. 5 was his other start-to-end outing. He did play 40 minutes at Illinois on Dec. 8, but that was a 45-minute overtime affair.

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New Leaders: ? Nic Wise took over the team assist lead with his five at Arizona State, giving him a 4.2 per game average, one of the top eight in the Pac-10. His assist:turnover ratio is nearly 2:1 (63:33) for good measure, and is better than 2:1 (23:11) in Jerryd Baylessˇ? absence.? Additionally, Chase Budinger took over the team minutes-played lead with 45 Wednesday to give him a 34.5-mpg average, one of the top five in the Pac-10.

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Extra Sessions: ?? UA has played three overtime games this year. The last year a Wildcat team played more was its 1997 national championship club that negotiated four OT contests including one each in the Elite Eight (vs. Providence) and Final Four (title game vs. Kentucky). A few other Wildcat squads (2005 and 2006) also had three overtime games since then.

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Steady Contributions: ? Assuming that Jerryd Bayless hangs on to his team scoring lead after missing the last four games, Arizona has only seen its leading scorer miss more than five games in that season once in the last 10 seasons.? Center Loren Woods missed the final eight games with back troubles in 1999-2000. Eventual team scoring leaders Marcus Williams (16.6 ppg) played 30 of 31 last year, Hassan Adams (17.5) played 31 of 33 in 2006, Salim Stoudamire (18.4) played 36 of 37 in 2005, Adams (17.2) played all games in 2004, Jason Gardner (14.8 and 20.4) played all games in 2003 and 2002, Gilbert Arenas (16.2) played all games in 2001, while Woods (15.6) played 26 of 34 games in 2000, Jason Terry (21.9) played all games in 1999, and Michael Dickerson (18.0) played all games in 1998.

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Not that often: ? Arizona surrendered season-high total of 18 made free throws and 23 attempts in Wednesdayˇ?s loss.? That was the fifth time this year that a UA opponent has outscored the Cats from the stripe, and the -7 differential was the second-biggest disadvantage vs. UA (-12 vs. San Diego State on Dec. 22).? On the year, UA outscores opponents by an average of four points per game from the line.

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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 Cats return to conference play after todayˇ?s contest, remaining on the road to face Stanford on Thursday, Jan. 17.? Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.

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