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WVU Notes 3/16/2008
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/16/2008
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No. 10 Seed Arizona (19-14) at NCAA West Region First/Second Rounds

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Date: ? Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time: ? approx. 9:55 p.m. EDT

Location: ? Verizon Center (20,000), Washington, D.C.

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

TV: ? CBS

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Game Data: ? No. 10 seed Arizona (19-14, 8-10 Pac-10) makes its 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance ?C 27th overall ?C and will open play in the West Region ... The Wildcats face No. 7 seed West Virginia (24-10, 11-7 Big East) Thursday in the first round at the Verizon Center ... UA has a 41-25 (.621) record in its 26 previous NCAA Tournament appearances ... This is Arizonaˇ?s first-ever NCAA Tournament visit to Washington, D.C., and is just the ninth tournament game for the program in the Eastern Time Zone ... Arizona is 3-5 previously when tipping off on Eastern time ... The Wildcats are 6-10 against the 2008 NCAA Tournament field with a 1-2 mark against teams in the West Region.

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The Rankings: ? Arizona is unranked in both polls for the 10th consecutive week.? For the season, the Wildcats have been ranked in either or both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coachesˇ? Top 25 polls in eight of 20 polling periods this season.

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Arizona Interim Head Coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill . . . ? is in his fourth season at Arizona and his first as the Wildcatsˇ? interim head coach ... Now in his 12th season as a college head coach, Oˇ?Neill has a career record of 171-179 (.489) and 19-14 (.576) at Arizona ... Prior to his return to Tucson, Oˇ?Neill had spent the previous seven seasons in NBA circles in which he was the head coach of the Toronto Raptors for one season (2003-04/33-49/.402) and an assistant coach for the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers for five seasons ... In those seasons on the bench, Oˇ?Neillˇ?s squads made five NBA playoff appearances with the Pistons advancing as far as the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003 ... Oˇ?Neill was the head coach at Marquette University for five seasons (1989-94), guiding the Golden Eagles to a 86-62 (.581) record and three postseason appearances, including two NCAA Tournament appearances ... His 1994 MU club won the Great Midwest Conference championship ... Oˇ?Neill spent three seasons as the head coach at the University of Tennessee (1994-97), where he guided the Volunteers to a 36-47 (.434) record and an appearance in the 1996 National Invitational Tournament ... From there, he moved to Northwestern University (1997-2000), where he posted a 30-56 (.349) record that included a berth in the 1999 N.I.T. ...? It was just the third postseason appearance in school history and the third winning season for the program in the previous 29 seasons ... Oˇ?Neill was named Great Midwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994.? He is 0-0 against West Virginia all-time as a college head coach, though is 1-7 vs. Bob Huggins during his time at Marquette while a member of the Great Midwest Conference.

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Last Time Out: ? Stanfordˇ?s size and depth ultimately proved to be too much for the Wildcats, as the Cardinal broke open a close game with a late run to post a 75-64 win March 13 in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament .? The Stanford front line posted 45 points and 26 rebounds and led a total of five players in double figures.? The game featured 13 ties and three lead changes before Stanford broke things open late with a 12-2 run over 3:16.? Arizona shot just 36 percent from the field and was outrebounded 50-27, a figure that led to a 20-10 second-chance-points deficit for UA.

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Scouting West Virginia: ? The Mountaineers enter todayˇ?s game with a 24-10 record (11-7 Big East) following last Fridayˇ?s 72-55 loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament semifinals.? As a team, West Virginia shoots 45.4 percent from the field (902-of-1,986), including 35.3 percent (248-of-702) from three-point range, while averaging 74.9 points per game.? Opponents shoot at a 41.9 percent clip and are averaging 63.0 points per game.? Four WVU players average in double figures, led by Joe Alexanderˇ?s 16.8 ppg mark.? Alexander and Daˇ?Sean Butler share team rebounding honors with a 6.1 rebounds per game average.

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The Series: ? Todayˇ?s game is the fourth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 3-1 series advantage.? Arizona captured the last meeting in the series, which dates back to Dec. 20, 1948, by a 75-74 count on Dec. 30, 1992, in the championship game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson.? All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 1-1 in Morgantown, W.Va., and 1-0 in neutral-site games.

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Last Meeting: ? Arizona 75, West Virginia 74, Dec. 30, 1992:? Arizona placed five players in double figures, shot 50 percent from the field and had to withstand a WVU second-half rally to earn the Fiesta Bowl Classic championship.? Chris Mills and Ray Owes each tallied 17 points to lead the Wildcats, who had a 38-30 lead at the break.? It was the first of two appearances for WVU in the Fiesta Bowl Classic (2001)

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Against the Big East: ? Arizona has an all-time record of 30-22 (.577) against teams that currently reside in the Big East Conference.? UAˇ?s last game against a Big East foe came on Dec. 5, 2006, in a 72-65 win over Louisville in the Jimmy V Classic in New York City. Over the last five years, the Cats are 3-3 against Big East opposition.? One of those (Villanova, L, 82-78, March 19, 2006) was an NCAA Tournament game.

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As a No. 10 Seed: ? This will be Arizonaˇ?s third NCAA Tournament appearance as a No. 10 seed (1985, 1987), and the club is 0-2 in those games.? It equals the lowest seed for the program since seeding was introduced in 1985.

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A Coaching Timeline: ? Here is a quick rundown on the chain of events regarding the Arizona coaching staff.? On Nov. 4, it was announced that UA head coach Lute Olson would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter.? During this period, assistant coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill accepted the head coaching responsibilities.? On Dec. 7, Olson announced that he would not return this season.? On Dec. 18, Oˇ?Neill was tabbed as Olsonˇ?s successor.? On March 10, it was announced that Olson would resume the head coaching responsibilities once this season was complete.? During Olsonˇ?s leave of absence all games will be credited to Oˇ?Neillˇ?s coaching record.

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Olsonˇ?s Tournament Impact: ? Arizona head coach Lute Olson carries a career record of 780-280 (.736) in 34 seasons overall and 589-187 (.759) in 24 seasons at Arizona.? Of note, Olson has a 46-27 (.630) record in NCAA Tournament play, including a 39-21 (.650) mark at Arizona.? Individually, Olsonˇ?s 23-year streak of appearances is tied with North Carolinaˇ?s Dean Smith in tournament history as the longest consecutive appearance streak in tournament history.? The legendary Tar Heel mentor appeared in 23 consecutive tournaments from 1975-97.? Counting his time as the Iowa mentor, Olson has 28 career NCAA Tournament appearance, which ties him with Bob Knight for the most career appearances in tourney history.? Additionally, Olson ranks third in the NCAA Tournament record book with 73 games coached.? Only Dean Smith (92) and Dukeˇ?s Mike Krzyzewski (88) rank ahead of the UA coach on hiatus.? Additionally, Olsonˇ?s 46 career tournament wins rank fourth on the all-time tournament victory list.? Krzyzewski (68), Smith (65) and UCLAˇ?s John Wooden (47) are the only coaches with more NCAA Tournament wins than Olson.

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Oˇ?Neillˇ?s Tournament Resume: ? Prior to this year, UA interim head coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill earned two previous NCAA Tournament berths while at Marquette (1993, 1994), where he tallied a 2-2 record.? His 1993 club lost a first-round game before his 1994 team advanced to the Sweet 16.? Here is a quick look at those four games:

March 19, 1993: ? (5) Oklahoma State 74, (12) Marquette 62; Indianapolis, Ind.

March 18, 1994: ? (6) Marquette 81, (11) Louisiana-Lafayette 59; St. Petersburg, Fla.

March 20, 1994: ? (6) Marquette 75, (3) Kentucky 63; St. Petersburg, Fla.

March 24, 1994: ? (2) Duke 59, (6) Marquette 49; Knoxville, Tenn.

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The Beat Goes On: ? This is Arizonaˇ?s 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, which is the longest active streak and second longest tournament appearance streak in NCAA history.? The streak trails only North Carolina, which made 27 straight appearances from 1975-2001.? Regarding the active streak, each of the top five teams made it into the 2008 NCAA Tournament (Arizona 24, Kansas 19, Kentucky 17, Duke 13, Michigan State 11).

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Underdog: ? When looking at Arizonaˇ?s tournament history, it hasnˇ?t played as a seeded underdog too often.? Since 1985, the Wildcats have played a total of 61 NCAA Tournament games, and only 17 of those had Arizona as the lower seed.? UA has a 7-10 (.412) record in those contests.

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the legacy rides with this one: ? A win over West Virginia Thursday would give Arizona its 20th win of the season.? It would also extend to 21 Arizonaˇ?s streak of consecutive 20-win seasons, which is the longest active streak in the country.? In that span, Arizona has averaged 25.6 wins per season.

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In Case You Were Wondering: ? Arizona enters the tournament with a 19-14 record, which equals a dubious feat.? The 14 losses equal the most for an at-large selection since 1985.? All told, Arizona is the sixth team to enter the tournament with 14 defeats.? Incidentally, only two of the previous squads (Louisiana State in 1987 and Villanova 1991) managed to win at least one tournament game.

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All-America: Jerryd Bayless was a second-team All-American as selected by Sports Illustrated.? Bayless is the 22nd Wildcat to earn a total of 85 All-America honors since 1950-51.? Additionally, he is the first UA freshman to earn All-America kudos since Jason Gardner in 2000 and the first Wildcat of any sort to earn such accolades since Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire in 2004-05.

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All-Region: Two Arizona players earned all-region honors in voting recently released by the NABC and the USBWA. Jerryd Bayless was a first team all-District 15 pick by the NABC, while Chase Budinger claimed second team honors. ?Additionally, Bayless was an all-District IX selection by the USBWA.

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All-Conference : Four Arizona players earned all-Pac-10 honors in voting released March 10 by the leagueˇ?s head coaches.? Jerryd Bayless was a second team all-conference honoree, while Chase Budinger was a second-team pick.? Additionally, Jordan Hill was an honorable mention all-league and all-defensive team selection and Jawann McClellan was an honorable mention all-defensive team honoree.? Bayless also was named to the all-freshman team.

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Geographic Significance: ? The road trip that brings Arizona to Washington, D.C., is the second-longest the program has taken for an NCAA Tournament appearance (1,952 miles), topped only by UAˇ?s trip to Philadelphia in 2006 (2,057 miles).? Additionally, this is just Arizonaˇ?s 17th NCAA Tournament game east of the Mississippi River (8-8), following stops in New Orleans (0-1), Philadelphia (1-1), Rosemont, Ill. (1-1), Raleigh (0-1), Milwaukee (0-1), Indianapolis (2-0), Birmingham (2-0), Memphis (2-0), Dayton (0-1), Charlotte (0-1) and Atlanta (0-1).

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Keys to Victory: ? Look no further than the field goal percentage column as an indicator of UA success.? This year, the Cats are a spotless 15-0 when shooting better than their opponents and 4-14 when not.? On the year, UA is shooting 47.8 percent from the field (822-of-1,719), a figure that is 39 percentage points higher than the opposition.? UA has held foes to less than 40 percent shooting nine times in 2007-08.? Additionally, the Cats are 13-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor.

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Shouldering the Load: ? Through 33 games, Arizonaˇ?s regular starters have accounted for 88.1 percent (2,096 of 2,378) of the scoring.? No matter your perspective, the 282 points contributed by the UA bench is the is the fewest by percentage in school history, going back to 1931-32, the first year on file with complete individual statistics.

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Get on the Glass: ? Rebounding has been an Arizona area of concern all year long, as the club posted a -1.5 rebound margin during the regular season, the programˇ?s worst effort since 1982-83.? During Pac-10 play it was even worse at -4.5.? When Arizona outrebounds the opposition, the club is 8-2.? All told, the Wildcats were outrebounded in 14 of 18 Pac-10 games.? On the positive side, UA was 3-1 when it managed to win the rebounding battle.

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Young and Productive: Make no mistake about the 2007-08 Wildcats ˇ? it is a very young bunch.? There are a total of seven freshmen and sophomores on the 15-man roster, including four in the probable starting lineup, and that septet accounts for 81 percent of the scoring, 65 percent of the rebounding, 72 percent of the assists and 66 percent of the minutes played.

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A rarity Around Here: ? Guard Jerryd Bayless enters Thursdayˇ?s game just 19 points shy of becoming the first freshman and 15th player in school history to score at least 600 points in a season.? Last week at the Pac-10 Tournament, Bayless passed Coniel Norman (576 points in 1972-73) as the highest-scoring freshman in Arizona history.? He would be the first Wildcat since Salim Stoudamire (662 points) in 2004-05 to score 600 points in a season.

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One of the best: ? Freshman Jerryd Bayless is enjoying a fine freshman campaign by averaging 20.0 points per game through 29 appearances.? That 20-point scoring average puts the 6-foot-3 guard in some elite company among Pac-10 players.? Bayless is one of just three freshmen in conference history to average 20 points per game, joining Shareef Abdur-Rahim of California (21.1 ppg in 1995-96) and O.J. Mayo of USC (20.8 ppg in 2007-08).

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Better With Age : ? Sophomore forward Chase Budinger continues to play under the weight of expectation, and it should be stated that the 6-foot-7 forward continues to produce and improve.? Through 33 games, Budinger has improved on nearly every statistical category, most notably minutes per game (35.2), three-point FG percentage (.378), assists (2.9 apg) and scoring (17.0 ppg).? He is just the sixth player in Arizona history to score 1,000 career points as a sophomore.

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Center Of Attention : ? Forward Jordan Hill enters the NCAA Tournament as the Pac-10 leader with a 62.2 (179-of-288) FG percentage.? Whatˇ?s interesting is that the 6-foot-10 sophomore is averaging just 8.7 attempts per game, third on the team.? He ranks fourth on the team in minutes played (29.3), which may underscore his? true value. When Hill plays 30 minutes or more, UA is 11-4 and he takes an average of 12.6 shots.? When that number is 29 or fewer, the team is 8-10 with just 5.5 attempts.? A year ago, Hill averaged 4.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 14.1 minutes played in 29 games.

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Clawing His Way back: ? ?The Wildcat with the most postseason experience (five games) has certainly showed a lot of heart in overcoming a number of setbacks.? After playing in all four games of UAˇ?s 2005 Tournament run, Jawann McClellan has beaten injuries (wrist, knee) and academic difficulties following the death of his father in 2005 to become UAˇ?s glue guy.? He averages 34.9 minutes, 8.6 points and 3.7 rebounds to go with 90 assists, 20 blocks and 22 steals and a .400 three-point FG percentage.

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Might Be Most Valuable: ? ?Nic Wise has proven his worth this year by averaging 9.1 points, 2.3 boards and 4.5 assists per game.? He ranks third among Pac-10 players in assists per game and three-point FG percentage (.472), second in steals (2.04 spg) and fourth in assist:turnover ratio (2.19).? He missed seven games due to knee surgery and the Cats are 16-6 with both Wise and Jerryd Bayless in the line-up.? Those contributions are solid for a guard who averaged just 8.1 minutes per game last year.

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Gilbertˇ?s House: ? Arizona has a connection to the Verizon Center ˇ? it is the home court to Gilbert Arenasˇ? Washington Wizards.? Arenas, who led Arizona to the 2001 Final Four, averaged 15.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in his two year in Tucson.? Arenas was one of 10 former UA players on opening day NBA rosters, fourth-most nationally.

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Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 170-19 (.899) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 8-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

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In March: ? Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 50-24 (.676) record in the month of March.? In that span, 34 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 24-10 (.706) in those affairs.

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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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