Game 8: No. 24 Arizona (4-3) at Utah (5-2)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000), Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler/Jimmy Dykes)
Game Data: No. 24 Arizona (4-3, 0-0 Pac-10) hits the road to take on Utah (5-2, 0-0 MWC) Saturday in Salt Lake City ... A win today would give UA a three-game win streak for the first time in 2005-06 ... Former Western Athletic Conference members meet in Salt Lake City for the first time since 1993 ... Defense never rests: both the Wildcats and Utes have a history of high octane offenses, but interestingly, each has broken the 80-point barrier only once in 2005-06.
The Rankings: Arizona remained No. 24 in the current Associated Press Top 25 and fell out of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll after two wins last week. UA has been ranked in 307 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 23rd season at Arizona and his 33rd overall as a college head coach with a career record of 745-259 (.742) and 553-167 (.768) 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 700th collegiate victory on Jan. 3, 2004, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (305) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.778/305-87) 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 23-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 21 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 best winning percentage over the past 18 years (479-118/.802) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 18 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 27 overall in his career, making him one of only four head coaches in NCAA history to record 27 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 325-33 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 253 of its last 270 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 4-3 against Utah.
Last Time Out: Hassan Adams scored 18 of his season-high 27 points in the second half as Arizona erased a seven-point halftime deficit in the 73-61 win. Adams spearheaded an effort that saw the Cats shoot 56 percent from the floor and collect 18 points off turnovers after the break. Over the last eight minutes, all of Arizona’s points were scored from the line or in the paint. Freshman Marcus Williams scored 14 points, while Ivan Radenovic added nine points and nine rebounds.
Scouting UTAH: The Utes bring a 5-2 record into Saturday’s game following last Saturday’s 69-53 win over Southern Utah. As a team, Utah shoots 48.0 percent from the field (180-of-375), including 35.3 percent (42-of-119) from three-point range, while averaging 69.9 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 42.9 percent clip, grab 29.4 rebounds and average 63.0 points per game. Two Utes average in double figures, led by Bryant Markson’s 16.6 ppg average.
The Series: Today’s game marks the 48th meeting of the two schools with Utah holding a 28-19 series lead. Arizona has won four of the last five games in the series, which dates back to Dec. 21, 1953, including a 67-62 win in Tucson on Dec. 11, 2004. While each were members of the Western Athletic Conference (1962-78), Utah held a 17-15 series advantage. All-time, Arizona is 13-8 in series games played in Tucson, 5-19 in Salt Lake City, and 1-1 in neutral-site games. See page 103 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 67, Utah 62; Dec. 11, 2004. Hassan Adams’ rebound dunk with 36 seconds remaining put the cap on UA’s come-from-behind win over Utah. Adams’ dunk put Arizona up by four points and the team made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 25 seconds to clinch the 1,000th victory in Lute Olson’s coaching career. Ten of Adams’ 14 points and all five rebounds (four offensive) came in the second half.
Against the Mountain West Conference: The Wildcats are 179-132 (.576) all-time against schools that currently make up the Mountain West Conference. Arizona has won its last five games against MWC foes, including a pair of games last season.
Soaring: Hassan Adams led Arizona to its first back-to-back wins this season by averaging 24.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the two games last week. The senior connected on 53.1 percent (17-of-32) of his field goal attempts, 77.8 percent (14-of-18) of his free throws and added six steals as well. He opened the week with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists (against no turnovers) in UA’s nine-point win over Northern Arizona on Thursday. He followed that with a 27-point, eight-rebound, five-steal day in Saturday’s win over Saint Mary’s. For the week, 33 of his 48 points came in the second half. On the year, he is averaging 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Moving Up: Hassan Adams’ recent scoring binge moved him into second place on the Pac-10 Conference’s scoring leaders list at 18.3 points per game. He enters Saturday’s game nine points shy of moving into a tie for 18th place on the UA career scoring list. Adams (1,403 points) currently trails Joe Nehls (1,409 points /1976-80) for the 18th spot on the list. Additionally, the 6-foot-4 Adams grabbed his 600th career rebound last week vs. Saint Mary’s. At his current pace of 18.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, he could finish his career ranked in the top 10 of Arizona’s career scoring and rebounding leaders.
Inching Higher: The Wildcats continue to struggle from the floor, as the team has connected on 176-of-440 (.400) of its field goal attempts. In the two wins last week, Arizona shot 43.0 percent (52-of-121) from the field and raised the team field goal percentage to its current 40 percent. Only one player on the UA roster is shooting better than 50 percent from the field ?- Kirk Walters (19-of-36/.528).
Long Range Plans: Much of Arizona’s shooting woes stem from an inability to make its three-point attempts. On the year, Arizona is shooting just 26.7 percent (32-of-120) from behind the arc. If those numbers were removed from the club’s shooting efforts, the team field goal percentage would rise to 45.0 percent. Incidentally, Arizona went 0-for-10 from three-point range in Saturday’s win over Saint Mary’s, marking just the second time in school history that the Cats have failed to knock down at least one trey. The only other time that happened since the three-point shot was instituted in 1986-87 was March 23, 2001, when Arizona went 0-for-8 in a 66-56 win over Mississippi in the 2001 NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal in San Antonio.
Onward and Upward: Arizona won consecutive games for the first time this season and moved above the .500 mark for the first time since the season-opening win over Kansas in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Arizona is 4-3 after seven games for the first time since the 1986-87 season.
More Like It: The Wildcats’ free throw touch seems to have returned, as the team made 40-of-53 (.755) free throws in the wins over Northern Arizona and Saint Mary’s. Perhaps it was most comforting to see the team actually get to the line quite frequently, as the team shot 35 free throws (27 made) in the win over Saint Mary’s and enjoyed a 27-13 scoring advantage from the charity stripe. Over the last eight minutes of Saturday’s win, 12 of Arizona’s last 20 points were scored at the free throw line (the other eight were scored in the paint) and the team knocked down 12-of-15 FT attempts.
Encore, Encore: Hassan Adams led quite a second half charge for the Wildcats last week, as he scored 33 of his 48 points in the second half. He connected on 12-of-21 FG attempts (.571) and grabbed 10 of 16 boards after the break. The effort spurred the Wildcats to a combined .509 (28-of-55) field goal percentage and a 44-31 rebound advantage in the final 20 minutes of both games this week.
A Better Percentage: The solid second half shooting effort mentioned above enabled the Wildcats to out-shoot both Northern Arizona and Saint Mary’s. It marked the third time this season (Virginia) that Arizona has posted a better field goal percentage than the opposition. How important is that? Since the start of the 2003-04 season, Arizona is 44-5 (.898) when shooting better than the opposition. Arizona is 3-0 this season when accomplishing the feat.
Sensational: Freshman Marcus Williams enjoyed his best week to date after averaging 15.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists last week. The 6-foot-7 forward from Seattle hit 12-of-23 (..522) field goal attempts and added a block and two steals in 68 minutes played. On the year, Williams is averaging 8.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Holiday Turnovers: UA continues to do a nice job of forcing turnovers, as opponents are averaging 22.0 turnovers per game. Opponents have turned the ball over 20 or more times in five of seven games to date.
Bipolar: En route to its 4-3 record, the Wildcats have proven to be at opposite ends of the spectrum with its end of game margins. Each of UA’s four wins have been by 11 or more points, while the three losses have come by nine or fewer points. On a positive note, Arizona’s win on Saturday was its first this season when trailing at halftime.
Almost There: Ivan Radenovic came up one point and one rebound shy of becoming the first UA player since Channing Frye in March of 2003 to post double-doubles in three consecutive games. Over the last three games, the 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 11.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and is shooting .440 (11-of-25) from the field. The effort raised his season averages to 10.5 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds.
Finding Positives: Despite the fact that Arizona currently holds a 4-3 record, the Wildcats have shown the ability to post large scoring runs in each game to date:
29-1 run over 10:43 vs. Virginia, Nov. 27 (UVa went 0-of-12 with seven turnovers during the run)
21-6 run over 7:12 vs. Michigan State, Nov. 23 (no MSU field goals in last 5:44 of regulation)
20-4 run over 9:10 vs. Kansas, Nov. 21 (KU hits 3-of-first-12 FG attempts with nine TO)
21-5 run over 7:57 at Houston, Dec. 3 (two UH FGs in last eight minutes of first half)
21-9 run over 12:23 vs. Connecticut, Nov. 22 (UA hits 7-of-11 FG in run)
26-13 run over 13:04 vs. Saint Mary’s, Dec. 10 (nine SMC turnovers during run)
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 143-18 (.888) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 1-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points.
Tops in the Pac-10: In the annual poll of media members who regularly cover the Pac-10 Conference, Arizona was selected as the team to beat for the league title for the fourth year in a row and 11th time in the last 16 seasons. The Cats received 23 of a possible 34 first place votes and 325 points overall. Stanford (294), UCLA (263) and Washington (238) rounded out the top four spots. It is the 11th time in the last 16 seasons that Arizona has been tabbed the preseason Pac-10 favorite. Arizona has gone on to win the league title eight times in that span.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Chase Budinger (F, 6-7, 190) from Carlsbad, Calif., LaCosta High School; Jordan Hill (F, 6-8, 210) from Atlanta, Ga., The Patterson (N.C.) School; and Nic Wise (G, 5-10, 180) from Kingwood, Texas., Kingwood High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following today’s game, Arizona hustles back to Tucson to host the 21st annual Fiesta Bowl Classic, Monday and Wednesday, Dec. 19 and 21. UCF meets Western Kentucky (4 p.m. MST) and Arizona hosts Sam Houston State (6:30 p.m. MST) in Monday’s first round match-ups.