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Cats, Cougars Tangle in McKale
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/03/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 3, 2010

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Date: Thursday, February 4, 2010

Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)

Tip Off Time: The second half of Pac-10 Conference play as well as the home stretch toward the end of the regular season begins this Thursday, February 4 when Arizona hosts Washington State at McKale Center, looking to snap a 3-game losing streak.

Catch the Action: Entering his third season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.

Coaches Show: The Niya Butts Show will broadcast once again this Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer will host the show and ask questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. The show will most likely broadcast from the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Series Notes: Arizona has amassed a 27-21 record in the all-time series against Washington State dating back to the first-ever meeting on January 17, 1987. After trading 3-game winning streaks in the series dating back to the 2007 season, Arizona has now captured back-to-back meetings, including a 67-60 win in Pullman back on January 7. Ify Ibekwe led all scorers with 21 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists to give the Wildcats their first conference win of the campaign. Arizona scored the first 10 points of the game and never trailed as they made a 34-28 halftime advantage stand up. The Wildcats shot 53.1 percent for the game while limiting the Cougars to just 31.3 percent shooting. Head coach Niya Butts is an even 2-2 against Washingon State since taking over the Arizona program. The Wildcats are 13-10 all-time against the Cougars in McKale Center.

Scouting the Cougars: Washingon State is still looking for its first Pac-10 win of the 2010 campaign after dropping each of the nine first half contests despite holding second half leads in 7-of-9 ball games. The Cougars are averaging 63.0 points per game while allowing 70.5 per contest. Washington State ranks last in the Pac-10 in all three shooting categories while also allowing the highest opponent field goal percentage. However, the Cougars do lead the league in turnover margin, tallying a +4.9 margin. Sophomore guard April Cook leads the way for the Cougars at 13.8 points per game while freshman KiKi Moore tosses in 13.2 per game and Jazmine Perkins averages 10.7 points per outing.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.

Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).

Last Time Out: A hot-shooting first half gave way to second half struggles as the Wildcats wrapped up the first half of Pac-10 play with a 83-62 defeat at #2-ranked Stanford last Saturday afternoon. Arizona led 42-40 at halftime after shooting 57.1 percent in the first half, but the Cardinal scored the first 10 points of the second half and pulled away for the win. Arizona connected on just 8-of-24 (.333) from the field in the second half while Stanford improved upon a 35 percent ledger in the first half to shooting an even 50 percent after the break. Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte led the way for Arizona with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting while Soana Lucet tossed in 15 points while Ibekwe added 12 points and 9 rebounds. Kayla Pedersen and Nnemkadi Ogwumike shared game-high scoring honors for Stanford with 27 points apiece while Pedersen snagged a game-best 13 rebounds. Though the Cats were an efficient 9-of-20 (.450) from 3-point range and committed just 13 turnovers, Stanford dominated the glass with a 52-22 advantage, including 26 offensive rebounds.

Last Time Out for Washington State: The Cougars lost a heartbreaker to rival Washington last Friday evening at Friel Court, falling 76-70 in overtime to the Huskies. Washington State took a 3-point lead with 2:27 to play, but Washington scored 5-straight points before Katie Madison converted a lay-up with 8 seconds remaining to force overtime. In the extra session, the teams stayed even through the first three minutes of play before Christina Rozier scored six-straight points for the Huskies to ice the win. April Cook led the way for the Cougars with 17 points while KiKi Moore added 15 points and Jazmine Perkins kicked in 13 points.

Record Setting Day: Both the Arizona and Pac-10 history books will need a considerable amount of updating after the record-setting performance by Arizona and Oregon on January 16 in McKale Center. Arizona set a program record with 119 points, besting the previous mark of 112 points scored against Cal State Northridge on December 13, 1991. The 39 points scored by Davellyn Whyte were an individual single-game scoring record, the previous mark held at 35 points by Dee-Dee Wheeler, Adia Barnes and Timi Brown. Pac-10 standards were also set for combined points in a game, points scored in a Pac-10 game and points scored by a losing team.

Century Mark: The Wildcats eclipsed the 100-point barrier for the 12th time in program history in the win ove Oregon, the first time any Arizona team had accomplished that feat since posting 101 points at UNLV on December 22, 2002. Contrarily, it was the 26th time Arizona had allowed at least 100 points in a game, but the first time since allowing 108 points in a loss to Stanford on February 28, 1998.

By The Numbers: Arizona is averaging 67.9 points per game while Washington State averages 63.0 points per contest. On the defensive end, the Cougars are allowing 70.5 points per game while the Cats yield 68.5 to the opposition. Neither team has performed well in the rebounding department as the Wildcats allow 2.6 more rebounds per game to the opposition while the Cougars have a deficit of 3.6 per outing. Arizona has better shooting numbers than Washington State across the board, including a 100-point gap in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage while shooting 70 percentage points better from beyond the arc.

Youth Is Served: Two of the youngest teams in the NCAA will take the floor in McKale Center on Thursday night. Arizona tied for 4th place with just five varsity seasons of compeition returning to its roster this season while Washington State brought back just 10 seasons of experience, placing the Cougars in 6th place. The teams have a combined 14 players who are either freshmen or sophomores on their rosters.

Preseason Picks: Arizona was picked to finish 9th in both the Coaches and Media polls that were released prior to the start of the regular season. In each vote, the Wildcats were picked to finish ahead of just Washington. Nine-time defending champion Stanford was picked to add another crown to its mantle in both polls. Junior forward Ify Ibekwe was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 team after earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and All-Defensive First Team honors last season.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her prep career after tallying 29 points in a win for the Screaming Devils against rival Thomson. She also had eight rebounds, six steals and four assists in the game. Warthen is averaging 29.4 points,7.8 rebounds, 7.7 steals and 3.8 assists per game for the 19-4 Devils. Most recently, Warthen tallied 27 points, 9 rebounds, 9 steals and 8 assists in a 62-49 win over Hancock Central.

Conference Standouts: Arizona reached the midway point of Pac-10 play with several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.9 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 92.3 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 3rd in the league in scoring at 17.9 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.6 per contest, tied for 5th in 3-point field goal percentage at .400 and 8th in field goal percentage with a .482 tally. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.7 per outing, good for 10th place. Ibekwe is also 4th in both blocked shots with a 1.5 average and in steals with 2.3 per game, 6th in field goal percentage at .495 and 10th in scoring with 14.6 per game. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th in field goal percentage (.434), 3rd in field goal percentage defense (.378) as well as 5th in both 3-point field goals per game (5.2), 3-point percentage (.327) and in free throw percentage (.683).

National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in scoring (93rd, 67.9), field goal percentage (47th, .434) and field goal percentage defense (90th, .378). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 3rd in the nation in rebounding at 11.9 per contest, 7th in double-doubles with 12, 58th in field goal percentage at .495, 86th in blocked shots with 1.5 and 100th in steals per game with 2.3. Davellyn Whyte is 43rd in 3-point field goals per game at 2.6, 47th in scoring at 17.9 per game, 51st in 3-point field goal percentage at .400 as well as 73rd in field goal percentage at .482.

Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.

Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979. Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently in third place in the Arizona record books with 34 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 12-of-19 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently 2 double-doubles behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could match this season if she can post the double digits in every remaining regular season game plus two postseason contests.

All-American Girl: Her impressive numbers also landed Ibekwe on the Associated Press All-America honorable mention list. She became just the 7th player in Arizona history to be named to one of the All-America teams and the first since Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk earned the honor following the 2004-05 campaign. Ibekwe was also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women's basketball and was chosen to attend the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Trials over the summer.

Milennium Milestone: With a total of 962 points for her career, Ibekwe is on track to become the 16th player in Arizona history to amass 1,000 points. At her current scoring average of 14.7 per game, Ibekwe would reach the 1.000-point plateau on February 13 in a road game against Oregon State. Ibekwe is 5 points from entering the Top 20, a spot held by Felecity Willis at 967 points.

Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte logged 44 minutes in her Arizona debut, tallying a game-high 27 points while adding 8 rebounds in the 75-70 overtime win against Iona. She then scored 11 points against Miami (Ohio) and finished the weekend shooting almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 17.9 points per game while shooting .400 from three-point range, .481 from the field and grabbing 4.1 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch since the start of Pac-10 play, averaging 21.6 points to go along with 3.4 rebounds while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from distance.

Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 18 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance last Saturday, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte has already had eight games scoring at least 20 points in just 19 contests. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting third overall in the league with 2.6 three-point shots made per contest. She is also the only Pac-10 player with two games of 30-plus points this season and has scored in double figures in 16-of-19 outings.

Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 90 times through the first 18 games for an average of five per game. With Whyte and Brooke Jackson combining to shoot over 37 percent from threedom, the Cats have increased their clip from distance by almost 50 percentage points from last season after shooting only 27.9 percent in 2008-09.

More About The Three Ball: The Cats are hoping to challenge the 1996 season, the best statistically in program history in regards to three-point shooting. That team hit 176 for the season and connected at a .382 clip. Arizona has currently knocked down 99 threes through 19 games for an average of 5.2 treys per contest. At that pace, if the team plays 31 games like it did a season ago, the Wildcats would record 161 for the season.

Long Way From Home: The Wildcats have had a number of players in the program from foreign countries in recent years, but none has had to come further to Tucson than junior forward Soana Lucet. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho is a native of New Caledonia, a collection of islands located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Lucet is the first female from New Caledonia to play collegiately in the United States and was named her country's best Under-18 player two years ago. Lucet set a career-high two weeks ago against Oregon with 28 points and is currently averaging 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Family Ties: Several members of the Wildcats have ties to either other Arizona teams, other colleges or professional clubs. The father of Tasha Dickey is currently an assistant football coach at Kansas State while Devon White, the father of Davellyn Whyte, is on staff with the Washington Nationals and was a Major League Baseball all-star during his career. Brooke Jackson welcomed younger sister, Cami, to the Arizona track and field team this season.

Up Next: Arizona has a quick turnaround to wrap up this brief two-game homestand when the Wildcats conclude their season series with Washington in a mid-day tip with the Huskies on Saturday, February 6 in McKale Center at 12:00 p.m.

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