Jan. 12, 2009
Date: Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009
Time: 8 p.m. PST
Location: Wooden Court, Pauley Pavilion (12,819), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (Ted Robinson/Marques Johnson/Michael Eaves)
GAME DATA: Arizona (11-5, 2-2 Pac-10) travels to Westwood to take on No. 9 UCLA (13-2, 3-0 Pac-10) Thursday in Pauley Pavilion ... This is Arizona's second game this season against a nationally ranked opponent, having defeated No. 4 Gonzaga, 69-64, on Dec. 14 ... The Wildcats look to win its first true road game of the season in its fifth try ... UCLA has won seven straight games in the series, the longest streak for either team in the last 24 seasons ... Tonight's tip time equals the second-latest of the year ... Arizona opponents are averaging just 61.8 points per game over the last five games and have a season-long average of 63.0 points per game.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Jan. 12 edition of both polls. UA was out of the polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign.
ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach with a career record of 11-5 (.688) ... He assumed the interim coaching responsibilities on Oct. 24 in the wake of Lute Olson's retirement a day earlier ... Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area ... He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season ... Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 ... While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 (.498) record that included one NCAA Tournament berth (2003) and three trips to the N.I.T. ... Prior to his tenure in Tempe, Ariz., Pennell served on Evans' staff at the University of Mississippi for six seasons (1992-98), where the Rebels went 86-81 (.515) and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998 ... In those two seasons, Mississippi won the Southeastern Conference West Division championship and won at least 20 games ... It was the first time the program had posted consecutive 20-win seasons in 60 years ... Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton ... During the 1990-91 campaign, the Cowboys shared the Big Eight Conference championship with a 24-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament ... The following year, OSU posted a 28-8 record, and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in both of Pennell's seasons in Stillwater ... Pennell, 47, earned a degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and received his master's in P.E. from PSU in 1990 ... He is assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona used a 17-1 advantage from the line and a 22-7 advantage in turnover points to hold off Oregon State, 64-47, Saturday afternoon. The 47 points allowed was the fewest by the UA defense this season. OSU outshot UA, .444-.389, but Arizona used two runs of 9-0 or better to put away the Beavers. Chase Budinger led all scorers with 24 points, while Jordan Hill added 15 points and 11 rebounds to help the Wildcats post a +8 rebound margin.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins enter tonight's contest with a 13-2 record (3-0 Pac-10) following Sunday's 64-60 win at USC. On the season, UCLA shoots 49.6 percent (424-of-855) from the field, including 37.9 percent (113-of-298) from three-point range, outrebounds the opposition by a +5.8 rebounds per game margin, and outscores opponents by 17.9 points per game. Three UCLA players average in double figures, led by Darren Collison's 15.2 ppg clip. Alfred Aboya leads the team with a 5.3 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 77th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 45-31 series advantage. UA has won 11 of the last 21 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, but UCLA has won seven consecutive, including the last meeting, a 68-66 triumph in Tucson on March 2, 2008. All-time, Arizona is 18-14 in series games played in Tucson, 12-28 in Westwood, and 1-3 in neutral-site games. See page 94 of the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: UCLA 68, Arizona 66, March 2, 2008: In what seemed to be a recurring theme at home last year, Arizona exhibited another solid effort against a ranked team only to come up short at the end. The two teams traded blows for much of the game with UA rallying from a six-point deficit with 2:28 to go before failing on the final possession. Ultimately, UA had no answer for Kevin Love, who tallied 24 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Chase Budinger led the Cats with 24 points, while Jordan Hill added 18.
ON HIS SHOULDERS: Chase Budinger led Arizona to a sweep of the Oregon schools by averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the two games. In posting consecutive 20-point games, Budinger shot .536 (15-of-28) from the field, .846 from the line (11-of-13), and notched a blocked shot and three steals. He opened the week by scoring a game-high 20 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers in 36 minutes vs. Oregon. Budinger followed that up with 24 points (8-of-9 FTs), six boards and two assists in a 17-point win over Oregon State. He spearheaded a defensive effort that saw the Cats allow an average of just 49.5 points in the two games - the fewest number of points allowed in consecutive games this season. On the year, Budinger is averaging 17.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting .468 from the field.
SWEPT AWAY: Arizona swept a pair of Pac-10 games this week, defeating Oregon and Oregon State by 15 and 17 points, respectively, to earn its first weekend sweep of 2008-09 and equal the number of two-game weekend conference sweeps in all of last season. Additionally, Arizona has collected just four sweeps (either home or road) in the previous two seasons combined.
ANSWER THE CALL: The Wildcats dialed up the defense en route to those two wins, by allowing an average of 49.5 points per game this week. The 47 points scored by Oregon State Saturday and 52 by Oregon Thursday were the two lowest opponent point totals of the season. Incidentally, the last UA opponent to score fewer than 50 points in a game was Oregon State (45) on March 6, 2008, in an 81-45 Arizona win in Corvallis, Ore.
GOOD FROM THE START: A solid first-half effort certainly aided the Arizona cause in a pair of games this week, as the Cats allowed just 40 combined points in the opening period against Oregon (19 points) and Oregon State (21). Additionally, Arizona limited those team to .391 shooting (18-of-46) in the first 20 minutes, including .200 (4-of-20) from three-point range, which helped the squad post 11- and 13-point leads at the break. Arizona is 7-1 this season when leading at halftime. In 16 games, Arizona outscores the opposition by an average of 2.6 points per game in the first half.
LINING IT UP: It's not often that a team can shoot less than 40 percent from the field and win, but that's just what Arizona did Saturday in connecting on 38.9 percent (21-of-54) of its attempts. The Cats got a huge boost from the free throw line by outscoring Oregon State 17-1 from the stripe. UA converted 16 OSU fouls (plus two bench technicals) into 20 free throw attempts, while Arizona's five personal fouls (a season low) led to only three OSU attempts. Through 16 games, Arizona is averaging 5.5 more points per game from the free throw line and has made 25 more free throws (224) than opponents have attempted (199).
SNAP OUT OF IT: Chase Budinger snapped out of a shooting slump by connecting on 53.6 percent (15-of-28) of his field goal attempts for the week en route to a pair of 20-point games. He did what any smart player in a slump might do: he worked for easy buckets, as 10 of those 15 field goals this week were either dunks or lay-ups. Furthermore, the 6-foot-7 junior forward from Encinitas, Calif., also connected on 11-of-13 (.846) from the free throw line. For Budinger, the two 20-point games this week were his seventh and eighth of the season, and the 18th of his career.
THE BEST AROUND: Junior Jordan Hill continues to prove himself to be one of the best big men in the nation, as he collected his 11th double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds Saturday against Oregon State. To date, the 6-foot-10 Hill has been in double figures 14 times when it comes to scoring and 12 times in rebounding in his 15 appearances. He currently leads the Pac-10 with those 11 double-doubles and his 12.0 rebounds per game average.
LEADING EXAMPLE: On the way to those 11 rebounds Saturday, Jordan Hill grabbed eight offensive rebounds. This season, nearly 40 percent of Hill's rebounds (69 of 180) have come on the offensive end. Through those 15 appearances the Atlanta, Ga., product has proven to be a force at both ends of the court. The Pac-10's leading rebounder also leads the conference in both offensive (4.6 orpg) and defensive (7.4 drpg) rebounds per game.
TOP 20: Chase Budinger enters the week needing just six points to move into 20th place on Arizona's career points scored list. Currently, Budinger has scored 1,344 career points in his 81-game career (16.6 ppg). Ernie McCray (1958-60) occupies the 20th spot on the scoring list at 1,349 points. At his current pace, Budinger could find himself inside the top 15 after just three collegiate seasons.
BOARD WORK: The Wildcats continue to do a good job of controlling the boards, as the club posted a +9.0 rebound margin in the wins over Oregon and Oregon State. This season, Arizona has outrebounded 11 of 16 opponents and is 8-3 in those games, including 2-0 in Pac-10 play. Seven times this year UA has outrebounded an opponent by 10 boards or more.
BALL SECURITY: Arizona committed just seven turnovers in Saturday's win and managed to convert 13 Oregon State miscues into 22 turnover points of its own. In 2008-09, Arizona is 8-0 when turning it over fewer times than the opposition. Incidentally, it was the fifth time this season has committed less than 10 turnovers, and the first time in six games that Arizona had accomplished the feat.
POSITIVE RATIO: The Wildcats posted 14 assists against only seven turnovers in Saturday's win, and currently carry a 1.2:1 assist:turnover ratio as a team. Arizona is 5-1 when they post five or more assists than turnovers in a game this season. Individually, six Wildcats have positive assist:turnover ratios in 2008-09.
IRON MAN: Junior guard Nic Wise played 40 minutes Saturday against Oregon State, marking the 12th time this season that an Arizona has played the entire contest. Wise and Budinger share the team lead with five 40-minute games to their credit, while Jordan Hill has accomplished it twice. Each of those players is averaging better than 33 minutes played per game.
EVER IMPROVING: Sophomore Zane Johnson had a nice week, averaging 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the two victories. Saturday against Oregon State, the 6-foot-5 Phoenix, Ariz., native tallied nine points, equaled a career-high with five rebounds and passed out three assists in 23 minutes played. On the season, Johnson is averaging 4.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game to go with a .450 (18-of-40) field goal percentage.
FOGG ROLLING IN: In 22 minutes played Saturday, Kyle Fogg tallied seven points and three assists without a turnover in 22 minutes played. Included in the effort was a trey, which was his third of the season - and all of those have come in the last five games. A starter in 10 of 16 games, the Brea, Calif., native is averaging 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the field.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 84 points Dec. 23 against Kansas, breaking the 80-point barrier for the third time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 173-19 (.901) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 3-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
UP NEXT: Following tonight's contest, Arizona moves across town to face USC. Tip-off on Saturday, Jan. 17, is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST at the Galen Center and can be seen on FS Arizona.