Game 17: No. 11 Arizona (13-3, 4-2) at USC (13-5, 3-2)
Date: Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Galen Center (10,258), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 11 Arizona (13-3, 4-2 Pac-10) heads out on the road for the final time this month beginning Thursday against USC (13-5, 3-2 Pac-10) in the brand-new Galen Center ... Since Arizona joined the Pac-10 in 1978-79, the Galen Center will be fourth different venue to host a UA-USC game in Los Angeles, joining the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, The Forum (1984, ?'93, ?'94) and the Staples Center (2002, ?'04) ... USC and Arizona rank 1-2 in the Pac-10 in defensive rebounds (27.44/25.88 drpg) ... The Wildcats are 4-2 away from home in 2006-07.
The Rankings: Following a split of two games last week, Arizona slipped to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and to No. 12 the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Wildcats have been ranked in each poll to date this season.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 774-272 (.740) and 582-180 (.764) 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 750th collegiate victory on Dec. 31, 2005, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (320) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.769/320-96) 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 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, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 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 second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 342-36 (.905) in McKale Center and have won 270 of its last 290 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 39-12 against USC.
Last Time Out: Oregon held Arizona scoreless on its final four possessions to come from behind and earn a hard-fought win, 79-77, Sunday in McKale Center. UA led 77-73 with 2:40 to play before the Ducks clamped down with two blocks and a turnover to score the final six points. Aaron Brooks’ floater with two seconds remaining provided the final margin. Brooks’ heroics topped a stellar effort by Arizona’s Marcus Williams, who tallied a career-high 34 points and added 12 rebounds.
Scouting USC: The Trojans (13-5, 3-2 Pac-10) enter tonight’s game with a 9-3 record in the Galen Center following Saturday’s 65-64 loss to UCLA. As a team, USC averages 72.1 points per game, shoots 48.6 percent (463-of-952) from the field and posts a +3.4 per game rebound margin. Defensively, USC allows 60.5 points per game and a .352 field goal percentage. Three Trojans average in double figures, led by Nick Young’s 16.4 points per game figure. Taj Gibson leads the club with a 9.2 rebounds per game mark.
The Series: Tonight’s game is the 88th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 53-34 series advantage. UA has won 14 of the last 18 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, but USC captured the last get-together, 77-70, in Los Angeles on Feb. 2, 2006. All-time, Arizona is 27-8 in series games played in Tucson, 23-26 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 101 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: USC 77, Arizona 70, Feb. 2, 2006: USC capitalized on a season-high 22 UA turnovers in rolling to the seven-point win. The Trojans converted those UA miscues into a 24-10 advantage in second-chance points and held a 22-4 advantage in fast break points. Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young did most of the damage, combining for 46 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals. The game featured six ties and five lead changes, but USC held the lead for the game’s final 14 minutes.
A Good Week: Arizona split a pair of conference games, as Williams averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting 55.3 percent (21-of-38) from the field. The sophomore forward also connected on 16-of-17 (.941) free throws and three blocks and four steals. He opened the week with a career-best 27 points, eight rebounds and three steals in an 11-point win over Oregon State in which he set a season-high with four assists. Williams topped that with a career-high 34 points (including a career-nest 11 FGs in 20 attempts) added 12 rebounds, and two blocks Sunday vs. No. 15 Oregon. It was the first 30-point game of his career and the third double-double this season for Williams. Additionally, it was the most points by a Wildcat since 2004-05. On the year, Williams is averaging 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and a conference-leading 1.7 assists per game, while shooting 54.3 percent from the field.
Rankings Boost: Perhaps it’s the team’s strength of schedule or some kind of cache of national respect, but whatever the reason, defeating Arizona seems to lead to a boost in the national rankings. Both Washington State (Jan. 6) and Oregon (Jan. 14) enjoyed such a boost following recent victories over the Wildcats. The Cougars went from also receiving votes to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll, while the Ducks jumped from No. 15 to No. 9.
A Win Tonight ... would be the 775th career victory for Lute Olson on the NCAA Division I level. Only 12 coaches in NCAA history (covering all levels) have won as many games. Now in his 34th year as a college head coach, Olson has a career record of 774-272 (.740).
One Possession-a-phobia: Sunday’s two-point loss to Oregon continued a season-long trend for the Wildcats that has seen the tam struggle in tight games. In 16 games to date, Arizona is 0-3 in games decided by five points or less and 13-0 in games decided by 13 or more points.
Off Target: Despite leading the Pac-10 with a 51.2 (478-of-933) cumulative field goal percentage, Arizona has struggled of late with its long-range shooting. Over the last three games, UA has connected on only 22.2 percent (12-of-54) of its three-point field goal attempts. In the same span, opponents are shooting a respectable 35.9 percent (28-of-78) from behind the arc.
ON the Glass: Arizona posted a 34-31 rebound advantage in Sunday’s loss. It was the third straight game in which the Cats have outrebounded the opposition, yet the club managed to win just one of those games, and was the 11th time this season that UA has outboarded its opponent. On the year, Arizona is 9-2 when accomplishing the feat, and the club carries a +5.7 rebound margin.
Telling Turnovers: The Wildcats lost the turnover battle Sunday to Oregon, 10-9. Turnovers have proven to be a noteworthy predictor of success, as Arizona is 8-0 this season when turning it over less than its opponent.
League Leaders: In a week where he averaged 30.5 points per game in a pair of games, sophomore forward Marcus Williams moved to the top of the Pac-10 scoring leaders list with his 18.4 ppg average. His effort last week against Oregon State and Oregon improved his scoring average from 16.7 to the current 18.4 and jumped him from fourth to first place. Incidentally, Williams is one of three Wildcats to currently lead the league in a statistical category. Ivan Radenovic leads the conference in free throw percentage (78-of-87/.897) and Mustafa Shakur leads in assists (7.6 apg).
Step right up and knock them down: As mentioned above, Ivan Radenovic leads the Pac-10 with a .897 free throw percentage. He’s certainly made the most of his chances. The 6-foot-10 senior forward from Belgrade, Serbia, has made his last 23 consecutive free throws. His last miss came on Dec. 28 vs. California. In case you are wondering, the school record is 39 straight by Salim Stoudamire in 2001-02.
Doubling Up: Marcus Williams’ 34 points and 12 rebounds marked his third double-double of the season. Williams now shares the team lead in that category with Ivan Radenovic. By comparison, it was Arizona’s 10th double-double of the year, which is four more than all of last season.
Forward Progress: Ivan Radenovic (13) and Marcus Williams (12) combined for 25 of Arizona’s 34 rebounds on Sunday. It was also the second time this year that two Cats posted double-figure rebound totals in the same game. Williams (12) and Radenovic (11) also accomplished the feat on Dec. 17 vs. Houston. Both Radenovic (seventh) and Williams (ninth) rank in among the top 10 in the league’s rebound leaders.
Topping 20: Senior guard Mustafa Shakur knocked down a season-high eight field goals in 14 attempts en route to 21 points, which was his fourth 20-point effort of the year, which nearly equaled his career total entering this season. The 6-foot-3 Philadelphia product had five 20-point games to his credit through his first three collegiate seasons. Incidentally, Arizona has had a player notch 20 or more points in a game 23 times this season.
Playing a Nice Role: Junior Daniel Dillon quietly went about his business Sunday and equaled career highs with two assists and two steals in 10 minutes vs. the Ducks without a turnover. He’s played the back-up guard role well this season, posting a 2.43 assist:turnover ratio. In fact, Dillon has just seven turnovers in 177 minutes played, or one turnover every 25.3 minutes played, easily the best figure on the team.
The Back End: Junior guard Jawann McClellan connected on 5-of-8 field goals Sunday and finished with 12 points against Oregon, which was four points better than his output against Oregon State on Jan. 11. It was the first time through three Pac-10 weekends that McClellan had scored more points in the back end of the weekend doubleheader.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 160-19 (.894) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 10-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points, a feat that has happened in 11 of 14 games this year.
Always On the Run: Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity. Here are the ones of note to date:
25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)
34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)
31-9 run over 7:54 vs. California, Dec. 28 (UA went 11-of-13 during the run; Cal 4-of-14)
28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)
20-2 run over 5:59 vs. Louisville, Dec. 5 (UL went 1-of-10; UA 7-of-8 during the run)
21-4 run over 8:08 vs. Illinois, Dec. 2, 2006 (UA 8-of-12 FGs during run)
24-8 run over 9:17 at San Diego State, Dec. 9, 2006 (SDSU 4-of-18 FG with five TO during run)
18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)
23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)
15-0 run over 2:28 at Washington, Jan. 4 (McClellan 3-of-3 from three-point range, UA 6-of-6 FTs)
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight’s game, Arizona heads across town to face third-ranked UCLA. The game will take place on Saturday, Jan. 20, and will tip-off at 1 p.m. PST. It can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.