Jan. 15, 2002
Date: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2002 Time: 8:30 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: No. 15 Arizona (11-4, 4-2 Pac-10) returns home riding a three-game win streak to face one of the nation's hottest teams in No. 18 USC (13-2, 5-0 Pac-10) ... The Cats face two ranked teams this week in USC and UCLA after an eight-game hiatus against nationally-ranked teams, and the club is 4-2 against ranked opponents this year ... Interestingly, Arizona has a better record away from home this season (8-2) than at McKale Center (3-2) ... The Wildcats are averaging 87.6 points at home this year, 6.6 points per game more than its season average (81.0).
The Rankings: After picking up a pair of Pac-10 road wins last week, Arizona rose to No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 245 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 650-229 (.739) and 458-137 (.770) 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 (254) 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 274-28 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 202 of its last 215 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 30-9 vs. USC, including a 17-1 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Jason Gardner scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Arizona to the 74-69 win last Saturday at Washington. Gardner, who was 4-of-6 from three-point range in the second half, scored eight of the Cats' final 13 points in the five-point win. UA held a 20-9 scoring advantage from the free throw line and placed four players in double figures. Rick Anderson collected his third double-double of the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Scouting USC: The Trojans (13-2, 5-0 Pac-10) carry a nine-game winning streak and sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 standings into Thursday's game. A very balanced and veteran club, USC averages 76.0 points and 39.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.4 percent from the field. The Trojans also boast a +11.7 scoring and +4.3 rebound margin. Senior forward Sam Clancy leads the club with averages of 16.7 points and 9.1 rebounds.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 76th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 44-31 series advantage. The Wildcats have won seven of the last eight games in the series, which dates back to 1922, including last year's 105-61 victory on Feb. 17 in Los Angeles in the last meeting. All-time, Arizona is 21-8 in series games played in Tucson, 23-23 in Los Angeles, and 0-0 in neutral-site games. See page 87 in the UA men's basketball media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 105, USC 61, Feb. 17, 2001. Arizona blitzed No. 23 USC 105-61 to post its third 100-point game of the season and hand the Trojans its worst home loss in school history. UA shot 53.6 percent from the floor, including a blistering 14-of-19 (73.7) from three-point range. Gilbert Arenas led all scorers with 27 points and hit 8-of-9 FGs, including all five three-point attempts, while Michael Wright chipped in with 23. UA led by 23 at the half and scored a season-high 59 points in the second half to post the 44-point winning margin.
Milestone Win: Saturday's win at Washington was coach Lute Olson's 650th career victory. Now in his 29th season as a collegiate head coach, Olson carries a career record of 650-229 (.739). His record in 19 seasons at Arizona is 458-137 (.770).
Playing Big: Jason Gardner averaged 22.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals in leading Arizona to a road sweep at Washington State and Washington last week. He went 13-of-32 from the floor, 6-of-15 from three-point range and 12-of-15 from the line in the two wins. He scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half of Thursday's win at Washington State, including a key trey with 1:03 remaining and 4-of-4 free throws in the final 24 seconds. In Saturday's win at Washington, Gardner scored a team-high 21 points and added six assists, three boards and two steals. He hit 4-of-6 attempts from behind the arc in totaling 16 points after the break. He has now scored in double figures in all 15 games to date, including nine of 20 or more points.
Road Warriors: In picking up two league road wins last week, UA improved its record this year to 8-2 away from home. In the Lute Olson era, Arizona has a 110-56 (.663) mark in Pac-10 road games, a league best in that span.
Nail Biters: With both of last weekend's games decided by 10 points or less, Arizona upped its record this year to 8-2 in games decided by 10 points or less. The Cats are 6-0 this season in games decided by five points or less.
Back in Action: Luke Walton returned to the UA lineup after missing three games with a strained right Achilles' tendon and averaged 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the two games. Included in the effort was his fourth double-double of the year, a 15-point, 11-assist, seven-rebound performance at Washington State.
A Record on the Line: By going 10-of-10 from the line last weekend, freshman Salim Stoudamire tied the UA record for consecutive free throws made at 29. Dylan Rigdon originally set the record during the 1993-94 season. On the year, Stoudamire is 39-of-40 (.975) from the free throw line and leads the Pac-10 in that category. In case you were wondering, the Pac-10 record is 49 by Ryan Mendez of Stanford set last year and the NCAA record is 64 by Joe Dykstra of Western Illinois set during the 1981-82 season.
Toeing the Line: Solid free throw shooting certainly helped the Wildcats this weekend, as the squad hit 39-of-52 (.750) charity attempts. In the last four minutes of those games, UA was a combined 14-of-16 (.875) from the line in the wins.
Gotta Get Better on the Glass: The Cats did manage to break a season-long trend in Washington by defeating Washington and Washington State despite being outrebounded by each club. Cumulatively, UA was outrebounded, 77-66, last week. Prior to last weekend, Arizona was just 1-4 in games when it was tied or outrebounded by the opposition.
Positive Signs: Now that the team is enjoying a modest three-game win streak (equaling a season-best), one statistic that has been prominent is a positive assist:turnover ratio. In those three games, Arizona has amassed 52 assists against 32 turnovers. Included in the effort was a +9 margin (21-12) Thursday at Washington State. In Saturday's win at Washington, UA had 17 assists on 24 field goals (.708), its highest percentage of the year.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,151 career points, which ranks 24th on the UA career scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Herman Harris, who scored 1,148 points from 1974-77.
Mr. Consistency: Salim Stoudamire has quietly become one of Arizona's most consistent performers. He ranks fourth on the squad in scoring (11.6 ppg), and has scored in double figures in eight straight games and leads all UA freshmen in minutes played at 27.9 mpg.
Bird-Like: Rick Anderson did some strong boardwork of his own Saturday to finish with a stat line much like his idol, Larry Bird. Anderson equaled a career high with 11 rebounds to springboard him to his third double-double this year (14 points). For good measure, he added three assists and a career-best three steals in, appropriately, 33 minutes of action. Anderson was 9-of-13 from the field this week to raise his season field goal percentage to .503.
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 (35.1), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (199), second in three-point FG attempts (532), and eighth in steals (148). With one more three-point field goal, Gardner will join Damon Stoudamire as the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point FGs.
A Second-half Performer: In his last three games, Jason Gardner has scored 56 of his 78 points in the second half. One couldn't say he was tired, as the guard from Indianapolis has played 118 of a possible 120 minutes in those three contests.
Accurate: Freshman center Channing Frye connected on 10-of-11 field goal attempts last week to raise his team-leading field goal percentage to .591, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-10. In conference play, Frye is shooting .638 (30-of-47) from the floor. Not one to be selfish, Frye also handed out a season-best three assists in the win at Washington.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 51-5 (.911) 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 6-2 this year.
Tuning Up: Isaiah Fox posted one of his best weeks of the year in Washington by posting 16 points and seven rebounds in two games in the Pacific Northwest. Fox opened the weekend with 10 points and six rebounds at Washington, marking the second time this year he has finished in double figures (Illinois). He added six points in 13 minutes in the win at Washington.
Number Change: Through six conference games this season, Arizona is being outshot, outrebounded and outscored. Opponents are shooting .496 (179-361) in league play, which leads to a +3.1 scoring margin, and outrebounding the Cats, 34.8-32.2. While Arizona is shooting .019 better in conference play, those other numbers will have to change in order to ensure success.
Free Throw Advantage: Arizona used a 20-9 scoring advantage from the free throw line to win at Washington last Saturday. It marked the sixth time this season that Arizona has posted at least a 10-point scoring advantage from the charity stripe. All told, the Wildcats have outscored opponents, 283-229, from the line this year.
Ninety: Arizona has scored 90 points or more four times this season (three times at McKale Center) and in three of the last six games. Since the start of the 1997-98 season, the Wildcats are 35-1 (.972) when topping the 90-point plateau. The only loss in that span came against Kansas (105-97) on Dec. 1.
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: The Cats return to McKale Center Saturday, Jan. 19, in a nationally-televised game with UCLA. The CBS-TV telecast is scheduled to begin at Noon MST. Following that contest, Arizona faces intrastate rival Arizona State in Tempe on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MST.