March 7, 2003
Date: Saturday, March 8, 2003
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
Game Data: Top-ranked Arizona (24-2, 16-1 Pac-10) hosts its final game of the regular season Saturday at McKale vs. Oregon (20-8, 10-7 Pac-10) ... Scoring shouldn't be a problem as this game features the two highest-scoring teams in the Pac-10, the only teams averaging over 80 points per game ... UA's 144 points in its last two games is its second lowest consecutive game total of the season, but opponents tallied just 129 points ... The Cats are 18-1 in home finales under Lute Olson ... Today is the final McKale Center appearance for Wildcat seniors Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton.
The Rankings: Arizona remains the nation's top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the fourth straight week. The Cats have been the top-ranked team in 12 of 17 AP polling periods this season. UA has been ranked in 268 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 687-237 (.744) and 495-145 (.773) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the second-most Pac-10 wins (278) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.783/278-77) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 20-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 10 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, 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 six times (1986, '88, '89, '93, '94, '98), 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 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 16 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 25 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 25 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 293-30 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 221 of its last 236 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 29-11 against Oregon, including a 17-2 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Arizona held Oregon State to 39.7 percent shooting and posted a 43-38 rebound advantage which enabled the Wildcats to grind out a 72-60 win Thursday night in McKale Center. Channing Frye posted his sixth double-double of the season with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Luke Walton chipped in with 12 points, six boards and seven assists. The Beavers committed 15 turnovers in the contest and shot just 9-of-21 from the free throw line.
Scouting Oregon: The Ducks (20-8, 10-7 Pac-10) enter Saturday's game looking to rebound from a 91-77 loss at Arizona State on Thursday. The road has proved to be a challenge for Oregon as the squad is 6-6 away from McArthur Court, including 3-5 in conference play. An unselfish offensive juggernaut, Oregon averages 82.8 points per game with an impressive 503 assists on 809 field goals (62 percent). Individually, four Ducks average in double figures, led by Luke Ridnour's 19.8 points per game average. Luke Jackson and Robert Johnson share the rebounding lead at 6.3 rpg.
The Series: Today's game marks the 51st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 32-18 series advantage. Oregon has won four of the last six in the series, which dates back to Nov. 12, 1979, but Arizona captured an 81-72 decision in Eugene on Jan. 2. All-time, Arizona is 19-5 in series games played in Tucson, 13-12 in Eugene and 0-1 in neutral-site games. See page 124 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 81, Oregon 72, Jan. 2, 2003: Arizona used a 50-28 advantage on the glass to erase an 11-point deficit with 14:32 to play and pick up the win the Pac-10 opener. Thirteen of Jason Gardner's game-high 21 points came in the second half, and the senior was responsible for igniting the key run. He nailed treys on consecutive possessions to start a 13-2 run over 2:41 to tie the game, then hit another trey at 2:13 to give the Cats the lead for good. It was Arizona's first win in Eugene since 1999 and snapped the Ducks' 23-game homecourt win streak.
Farewell Seniors: Today marks the final McKale Center appearance for three UA seniors: Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton. Over the past four years the Class of 2003 has played for a national championship, captured two Pac-10 titles, one Pac-10 Tournament championship and won more than 100 games (103-27/.792 since 1999-2000), including a 51-8 mark at home. The trio has combined for 3,877 points, 1,516 rebounds and 1,274 assists.
Clamping Down: Arizona has held opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in eight of 17 Pac-10 games and owns a league-best .392 FG percentage defense mark in league play. The Cats have held six of the last eight opponents to less than 40 percent shooting and 12 overall in 26 games. Only five times in Lute Olson's 20 seasons in Tucson has his team posted a better FG percentage defense mark, most recently in 2000-01 (.397).
Pay Attention to the Glass: Success in this game could hinge on rebounding. This season, Arizona is 20-0 when outrebounding the opposition, while Oregon is 9-6 when giving up a rebound advantage. In this year's first meeting, Arizona held a 50-28 rebound advantage and went on to win 81-72.
Milestones Approaching: Jason Gardner and Luke Walton each approach statistical markers of sorts in their final appearance at McKale Center. Gardner is two assists shy of becoming just the third player in school history (10th in Pac-10 history) to tally 600 career assists. Walton, meanwhile, is two points shy of moving past former teammate Gilbert Arenas into 27th place on the UA career scoring list. Currently, Walton has 1,103 career points.
Safe in the Middle: Channing Frye's 24-point, 12 rebound effort continued his run of solid play as he racked up his sixth double-double of the season. Of those six double-doubles, five have come since the start of February. He connected on 10-of-14 field goal attempts in the game to push his season averages to 12.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He leads the club with a .595 field goal percentage.
Energy off the Bench: Freshman guard Hassan Adams put forth a spirited effort in Thursday's win, totaling six points, four rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist in 26 minutes. Not only were the 26 minutes played his most since Jan. 4, but Adams has started to assert himself defensively as he has five steals and a blocked shot in his last two games.
Stepping Up: Guard Chris Rodgers saw 15 minutes of playing time Thursday (second most this season) and responded with seven points, three rebounds (equaling a season-high), an assist and a blocked shot. The Portland, Ore., native hit 2-of-3 shots from the floor, including his only three-point FG attempt.
20-Point Games: Channing Frye's 24-point game Thursday marked the 19th time this season that an Arizona player has scored at least 20 points in a single game. For Frye, it was his fourth of the season to tie for second on the team with Jason Gardner. Salim Stoudamire leads the team with five 20-point games, including the Cats' only 30-point game (Jan. 25 at Kansas). True to his nature, Stoudamire might get the quietest 20 points around. In those five games, Stoudamire averaged just 11.8 field goal attempts to score 123 points (24.6 ppg). He connected on 40-of-59 attempts (.678) in that span, including 22-of-36 (.611) from three-point range.
Century Mark: Luke Walton collected seven assists in Thursday's game to reach the 100-assist plateau for the fourth consecutive season. It was the seventh time that the San Diego native has passed out at least seven assists in a ballgame this season, which ties him with Jason Gardner for the team lead in games with seven or more assists. Incidentally, Arizona is 53-9 (.855) in games where Jason Gardner has five or more assists.
It's the Little Things: In addition to his 16 points and 11 rebounds over the last two games, Rick Anderson has done a lot of the little things that help teams win games. In 63 minutes played, the 6-foot-9 senior has three assists, a blocked shot and three steals against just one turnover. The effort has helped to boost his assist:turnover ratio to 35:33 on the season, one of six UA regulars to be on the positive side of the ledger.
Steady: It's almost gotten to the point where one can count on Andre Iguodala to finish a game with seven points, three rebounds and two steals as he did Thursday. The freshman from Springfield, Ill., ranks third on the team in rebounding (4.9 rpg), assists (51) and blocks (16); and second in steals (34). He also has a 1.31 assist:turnover ratio.
Record Setter: With another capacity crowd expected Saturday, Arizona is almost certain to establish a new school record for average attendance. With one home date remaining, UA is averaging 14,560 fans per game (203,838 in 14 games), which is just ahead of last season's record of 14,544. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance every season since 1984-85.
Good TV?: Each of Arizona's last two home finales has been televised by CBS Sports. Both of those games has produced a big win for the Wildcats. UA defeated Oregon, 104-65, on March 3, 2001, and California, 99-53, on March 2, 2002 in front of a national television audience.
Consistency: Arizona has been very consistent in its first and second half efforts this season. In the first 20 minutes of play, UA averages 40.7 points per game, +6.9 points better than the opposition. In the second half, that margin jumps slightly to +9.1, as the club outscores its opponent, 43.9-34.8.
Shot Blocking: Led by Channing Frye's 1.8 blocks per game average, the Wildcats ranks second in the Pac-10 in blocked shots per game at 4.27 per game. Aside from the Loren Woods years (1999-2001), the last time Arizona averaged as many blocks per game was 1992-93, when the Cats posted a 4.43 blocks per game average.
March On: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 32-10 (.762) in the month of March.
From the Line: After shooting .821 from the line (55-of-67) in its last three games to push its season FT percentage above 70 percent, the Wildcats returned home and shot just 9-of-16 (.563) from the stripe and saw that percentage slip to .698. Arizona has made more free throws (451) than the opponents have attempted (438) and outscored the opposition from the free throw line in 21 of 26 games this season.
Holding the Lead: Despite an 0-for-3 effort from three-point range, Salim Stoudamire still leads the Pac-10 with a .455 three-point FG percentage.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 79-7 (.919) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 16-4 last season when scoring at least 80 points.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Ndudi Ebi (F, 6-8, 192) from Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian High School, Mustafa Shakur (G, 6-3, 175) from Wynnewood, Pa., Friends Central High School and Kirk Walters (C, 6-10, 210) from Grand Rapids, Mich., South Christian High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Having already clinched the Pac-10 regular season championship, Arizona will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Pac-10 Tournament. The three-day event features the top eight finishers in the league and runs from March 13-15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.