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USC Notes 2/25/2008
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/25/2008
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Game 28:? ? Arizona (17-10, 7-7) vs. USC (17-9, 8-6)

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Date: ? Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008

Time: ? 7 p.m. MST

Location: ? Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.

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

TV: ? ESPN (Rece Davis/Jay Bilas)

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Game Data: ? Arizona (17-10, 7-7 Pac-10) opens the final homestand of the regular season vs. USC (17-9, 8-6 Pac-10) Thursday in a nationally televised game on ESPN ... Seeding for the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament will be on the line as these teams are among a group of five teams in the middle of the pack separated by two games in the loss column ... This is ESPNˇ?s first stop in McKale Center since Nov. 16, 2004.

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The Rankings: ? Arizona is unranked in both polls for the seventh 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 17 polling periods this season.

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Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . ? will begin his 25th season at Arizona and his 35th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 780-280 (.736) and 589-187 (.759) at Arizona upon his return from a leave of absence, which was announced on Nov. 4 ... 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 775th collegiate victory on Jan. 24, 2007, and became Arizonaˇ?s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (327) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.764/327-101) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLAˇ?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, ˇ®89, ˇ®90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 23 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, ˇ®88, ˇ®89, ˇ®93, ˇ®94, ˇ®98, 2003), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ˇ®81) and directed the UA program to the nationˇ?s third-best winning percentage over the past 20 years (519-142/.785) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 52 NBA Draft picks, including 31 at Arizona ?C 25 alone since 1990 ... Heˇ?s led UA to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 29 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons...?Under Olson, the Cats are 344-40 (.896) in McKale Center and have won 272 of its last 296 home games ... He is assisted by Kevin Oˇ?Neill, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon.

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Last Time Out: ? The Wildcats put forth a solid effort on both ends of the court to earn a much-needed win, 65-55, Saturday at Washington State.? UA limited WSU to season-low totals of 17 field goals and a 34.0 field goal percentage, while shooting 50 percent at its own basket and placing three players in double figures.? Chase Budinger, who hit his first five shots from the floor, knocked down two key treys in the second half to keep the Wildcats in the lead, and Jerryd scored all 20 of his points in the second half.? It was UAˇ?s third win over a ranked team this season.

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Scouting USC: ? The Trojans enter play Thursday with a 17-9 record (8-6 Pac-10) following Saturdayˇ?s 81-53 win at Oregon State.? Through 26 games, USC averages 68.9 points per game, shoots 48.5 percent (649-of-1,338), and posts a -1.2 rebound margin per game.? Opponents shoot 38.8 percent from the floor and are outscored by an average of 6.6 points per game.? Individually, four USC players average in double figures, led by O.J. Mayo, who averages 20.1 points? per game.? Taj Gibson leads the club with a 7.9 rebounds per game average.

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The Series: ? Tonightˇ?s game is the 91st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 54-36 series advantage. UA has won 15 of the last 21 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last contest, 80-69, in Los Angeles on Jan. 31. All-time, Arizona is 27-9 in series games played in Tucson, 24-27 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 101 in the UA media guide for more series information.

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Last Meeting: ??Arizona 80, USC 69, Jan. 31, 2008: ? Chase Budinger scored a game-high 29 points and Jawann McClellan added a career-high 23 points to lead Arizona to its fourth straight win.? The duo scored 28 of the Catsˇ? 46 second-half points as the team came from behind to win.? UA used a 20-7 run over 4:12 late in the half to take control of a contest that featured seven ties and 11 lead changes.? Three-point shooting proved to be the difference as Arizona connected on 47.6 percent (10-of-21) and outscored USC, 30-12, from behind the arc.

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In The Coaching Box: ? Prior to the Nov. 4 exhibition game, it was announced that UA head coach Lute Olson would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter.? It was announced on Dec. 7 that Olson would not return this season.? During this period, assistant coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill will handle the head coaching responsibilities.? Oˇ?Neill, who was tabbed as Olsonˇ?s successor on Dec. 18, has 11 seasons of experience as an NCAA Division I head coach, where he compiled a 152-165 (.479) record while at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. Oˇ?Neill spent the last seven seasons in NBA circles.? During Olsonˇ?s leave of absence all games will be credited to Oˇ?Neillˇ?s coaching record.

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Stepping Up: ? In two games last week, Chase Budinger averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as Arizona split a pair of conference road games.? The sophomore from Encinitas, Calif., hit 11-of-23 (.478) shots from the floor, including 5-of-11 (.455) from three-point range, to go with 5-of-7 (.714) from the free throw line and two steals.? He opened the week with 10 points, four assists and two steals? in a loss at Washington before following that with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists at No. 17 Washington State.? Against the Cougars, Budinger hit his first five shots to score 12 early points, then his trey with 2:02 to go in the game essentially sealed the win.? All told, it was Budingerˇ?s 23rd game in double figures and his 11th game with 20 or more points.? On the year, he averages 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

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Getting Better: ? Arizona defeated No. 17 Washington State Saturday to earn its third win of the season against a nationally ranked team.? The victory, which was the first on the road this year against a ranked team, marked UAˇ?s first road win against a ranked team since Jan. 4, 2007, in a 96-87 win at No. 24 Washington.? Arizonaˇ?s three wins this season over ranked opponents is equal to the programˇ?s total in such games over the previous two seasons combined.? UA is 3-4 against ranked opponents this season, while 3-15 against nationally ranked opponents in 2006 and 2007 combined.

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Defense Shines: ? Credit the Arizona defense with the win on Saturday, as the Wildcats limited Washington State to season-low totals of 17 field goals and 34.0 percent (17-of-50) shooting.? Both totals were UA opponent season lows in 2007-08 as well.? UA opponents are shooting a cumulative 43.9 percent (668-of-1,521) from the field this season, and the Wildcats have held opponents to less than 40 percent shooting eight times.

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Keeping It Close: ? The Arizona front line did a nice job of keeping the rebounding totals close, as Chase Budinger, Jamelle Horne and Jordan Hill combined for 26 of the teamˇ?s 30 rebounds vs. Washington State.? However, UA did lose the rebound battle, 32-30, for the 11th time in 14 Pac-10 games where Arizonaˇ?s rebound margin is -4.6 rpg.

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Itˇ?s Better When the Shots Go Down: ? The Wildcats located its shooting eye in Saturdayˇ?s win, connecting on 50 percent (23-of-46) of its attempts against the Cougars.? UA shot 56.0 percent (14-of-25) in the second half against WSU, which helped the Cats outscore Washington State, 41-32 in the second stanza.? Arizonaˇ?s 65 points Saturday was 10 points better than Washington Stateˇ?s scoring defense figure (55.2 ppg) entering the contest.? This season, Arizona is 11-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 13-0 when outshooting the opposition.

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You Gotta Keep Shooting: ? Chase Budinger snapped out of his recent shooting slump quickly against Washington State by hitting his first five field goal attempts en route to a game-high 22 points.? The 6-foot-7 forward entered the game shooting just 31.1 percent (19-of-61) from the floor in his previous five games, knocked down 8-of-13 shots Saturday, including 4-of-7 from three-point range.? Two of those treys (12:13 and 2:02) came at key points of the second half that enabled the Cats to keep the lead.

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Controlling the Glass: ? Freshman Jamelle Horne might have played his best game of the season, as the forward from San Diego, Calif., grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to go with four points, an assist and steal at Washington State.? And he accomplished that by playing all 40 minutes for the first time in his career.? Horne grabbed five offensive boards as he collected double-figure caroms for the first time in his career.? On the season, Horne averages 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, and nearly 40 percent of his rebounds come on the offensive glass.

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Fewer Mistakes : ? The Wildcats committed just 10 turnovers Saturday, marking the 10th?time this season that the Wildcats have had 10 or fewer miscues in a game.? Arizona averages 12.5 turnovers per game and is 13-5 the season when committing the same or fewer turnovers than the opposition.

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Punch The Clock : ? Injuries have forced the UA regulars to play more minutes, as Jerryd Bayless (36.0 mpg), Jawann McClellan (35.4) and Chase Budinger (35.3) are averaging more than 35 minutes per game.? Look no further than Bayless who has become quite the ironman by playing no fewer than 38 minutes in each of the last six games.? In that span, Bayless is averaging 39.0 minutes to go with a 26.0 points per game clip.

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Minister of Defense: ? Jawann McClellan continues to strengthen his defensive presence with each passing game.? Saturday against Washington State, he limited WSUˇ?s Kyle Weaver to just 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting to go with three turnovers.? McClellan ranks second on the team with 20 blocked shots, third with 89 defensive rebounds and fourth with 16 steals.

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Farsighted: ? Arizona continues to lead the Pac-10 with a .401 (181-of-451) three-point field goal percentage.? The Wildcats shot it well on the Washington road swing, connecting on 15-of-31 (.484) attempts from behind the arc.? In Saturdayˇ?s win, UA hit 8-of-14 .(571) three-point attempts, led by Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless who combined for 6-of-10 shooting from long range.

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Temperature Check: ? After stringing together three straight 30-point games, Jerryd Bayless cooled off a bit against the Washington schools, scoring 42 points (21.0 ppg).? Saturdayˇ?s against Washington State, Bayless was held scoreless in the first half, but exploded for 20 points in the second half on 6-of-9 shooting.? It was the 10th?consecutive double-figure scoring game for Bayless this season and his fifth straight game with 20 or more.? In 23 appearances, Bayless has scored in double figures 21 times with 15 games of 20 or more.

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Farsighted: ? Arizona continues to lead the Pac-10 with a .401 (181-of-451) three-point field goal percentage.? The Wildcats shot it well on the Washington road swing, connecting on 15-of-31 (.484) attempts from behind the arc.? In Saturdayˇ?s win, UA hit 8-of-14 .(571) three-point attempts, led by Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless who combined for 6-of-10 shooting from long range.

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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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Up Next: ? Following tonightˇ?s game, Arizona hosts UCLA in the final home game of the regular season.? Tip off on Sunday, March 2, is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on CBS-TV.

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