Game 8: No. 15 Arizona (5-2) vs. Utah (4-2)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004
Time: 11 a.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: No. 15 Arizona (5-2, 0-0 Pac-10) returns home Saturday to host Utah (4-2, 0-0 MWC) ... It’s the second consecutive home game against a Mountain West Conference foe ... Five of UA’s next six games will be in McKale Center ... After playing seven games in the first 19 days of the season, Arizona enters a stretch of the schedule in which it plays two games in the next 14 days.
The Rankings: Arizona rose to No. 15 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. UA has been ranked in 289 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 22nd season at Arizona and his 32nd overall as a college head coach with a career record of 716-251 (.740) and 524-159 (.767) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 700th collegiate victory on Jan. 3, 2004, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the second-most Pac-10 wins (290) in history, trailing UCLA’s John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.775/290-84) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 22-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 20 years, 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 best winning percentage over the past 17 years (449-111/.802) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 47 NBA Draft picks, including 28 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 17 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 26 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 310-32 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 238 of its last 255 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 3-3 against Utah.
Last Time Out: Arizona made three of four free throws and Hassan Adams contributed a key blocked shot in the final 30 seconds as Arizona held off Mississippi State, 68-64, Sunday at the John R. Wooden Classic. Led by Channing Frye’s 18 points and 16 rebounds, the Wildcats built as much as a 13-point lead before the Bulldogs trimmed the lead to a few as one with 1:46 to go. UA limited MSU to 35.4 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers.
Scouting Utah: The Utes enter Saturday’s game with 4-2 record (pending Wednesday’s game with Western Montana) after a 71-45 loss, Dec. 4, at Utah State. Utah shoots 49.8 percent from the field (136-of-273), posts a +7.0 rebound margin and outscores the opposition by 2.8 points per game. Individually, three players average in double figures, led by Andrew Bogut’s 17.3 points per game average. Bogut also leads the club with a 10.5 rebounds per game average.
The Series: Saturday’s game marks the 47th meeting of the two schools with Utah holding a 28-18 series advantage. Arizona has won three of the last four meetings, but the Utes won the last, a 76-51 decision in the 1998 NCAA West Regional final in Anaheim, Calif. All-time, Arizona is 12-8 in series games played in Tucson, 5-19 in Salt Lake City and 1-1 in neutral-site games. Please see page 105 of the Arizona media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Utah 76, Arizona 51, March 21, 1998: Arizona’s dreams of a second straight national championship came to a screeching halt, courtesy of a 75-51 Utah win in the 1998 NCAA West Regional final. Utah played a near-flawless game in defeating an Arizona club that had won 23 of its last 24 games. The Utes led 29-20 at the break and thwarted any thoughts of a UA comeback. The closest Arizona would get over the last 20 minutes was 33-25 with 17:33 remaining, but Utah took over and built as much as a 28-point lead.
Against the Mountain West Conference: Bolstered by several former members of the Western Athletic Conference, Arizona has played a total of 309 games against schools that currently reside in the Mountain West Conference, the highest total of any NCAA Division I conference outside of the Pac-10. In those games, Arizona has a 178-131 (.576) record.
Testing the Middle: Once again, the UA frontline will be tested by another quality big man, as Utah’s 7-foot sophomore center Andrew Bogut comes to town. Last year, Bogut averaged 12.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots to earn Mountain West Conference Freshman-of-the-Year honors. Last week, Arizona faced preseason All-American Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State and limited him to just seven points and seven rebounds.
Safe at Home: Homecourt advantage may mean something today, as the Wildcat have proven to be a far more productive team in the confines of McKale Center. In three home games this season, Arizona is averaging 87.0 points per game, shooting 47.1 percent from the field (96-of-204), including 46.7 percent from three-point range (21-of-45), and outrebounding the opposition by 10.3 boards per game. Those figures are marked improvements over UA’s overall season marks of 72.9 points per game, a 40.3 FG percentage, including 33.1 from three-point range, and a +3.0 rebound margin.
Second Chances: One of the keys to Arizona’s +3.7 rebound advantage on the season has been its dominance on the offensive glass. Through seven games, the Wildcats are averaging 17.3 offensive rebounds per game, 4.9 more than the opposition. Certainly, a 40.3 team field goal percentage will lead to more offensive rebound opportunities, but someone has to grab them and UA has done that better than the opponent in six of seven games this season. To date, three UA regulars have an equal number or more offensive than defensive rebounds (Adams, McClellan, Radenovic).
Nice Effort: In leading Arizona to a pair of wins this week, Frye averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He opened the week with a 12-point (5-of-10 FG), four-rebound, three-assist performance Tuesday in a 28-point win over Wyoming and followed that up with 18 points, a career-high-equaling 16 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in a 68-64 win over No. 15 Mississippi State. For his efforts against the Bulldogs, Frye was named Wooden Classic player of the game. On the season, Frye is averaging 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Against Ranked Opponents: The Wildcats’ defeat of 15th-ranked Mississippi State Sunday evened the club’s record this season against ranked opponents to 1-1. It also marked Arizona’s first victory over a higher-ranked opponent since Dec. 9, 2003, when No. 9 UA downed No. 6 Texas, 91-83. Since that win, Arizona had been 0-3 against such opponents, including 0-1 this season (60-63 vs. No. 1 Wake Forest on Nov. 26).
In the Record Books: With 12 points against Mississippi State, senior Salim Stoudamire posted his 70th career double-figure scoring game. He also moved to within 35 points of 15th place on the UA career scoring list with 1,410 points.
Balance: In each of its victories this week, Arizona had four players finish with at least 10 points. The offensive balance seems to work for the Wildcats as the team is 4-0 this season when four or more players finish in double figures.
Unbeaten: Arizona improved to 3-0 in John R. Wooden Classic play with a 68-64 win over Mississippi State Sunday in Anaheim, Calif. Arizona had defeated Utah, 69-61, in 1996 and Purdue, 79-66, in 2001. Arizona joins Stanford as the only schools to make more than two appearances in the 11-year history of the event and remain unbeaten.
Sub-70: Sunday’s win marked the second time this season that Arizona had scored fewer than 70 points and won. The Wildcats also defeated Michigan, 61-60, in overtime on Nov. 24. On the season, Arizona is averaging 72.9 points per game, 5.8 points per game more than the opposition. The 80-point plateau is a meaningful one for Arizona, as the club is 127-16 (.888) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring 80 or more points, including 3-0 this year.
Off the Mark: One thing that continues to plague the Wildcats this season is its shooting percentage. In its first seven games to date, Arizona is shooting just 40.3 percent (192-of-477) from the field. In two games a this week, UA shot 43.8 percent (60-of-137) from the floor, including a 39.4 percent effort (26-of-66) against Mississippi State. UA has shot 50 percent or better from the field only once this season (55.9 vs. Wright State). Isaiah Fox’s .480 field goal percentage (12-of-25) leads the team.
Better on Defense: Despite its offensive woes, Arizona has been good at the other end of the floor. UA holds the opposition to 43.3 percent shooting (180-of-416), holds a +3.7 rebound advantage and forces 17.7 turnovers per game. Against Mississippi State, Arizona limited the Bulldogs to 35.4 percent shooting (23-of-65), the lowest figure by a UA opponent this season. The Cats have held two opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in 2004-05.
Record Setter: Channing Frye’s 18 points and 16 rebounds earned him Wooden Classic Player-of-the-Game honors Sunday. The 16 rebounds equaled a career and set a Wooden Classic single-game record, topping the previous mark of 13 equaled by five players, most recently Chuck Hayes of Kentucky in 2003.
Stepping Up: The frontcourt combination of Channing Frye and Isaiah Fox certainly did its best in limiting the effectiveness of Mississippi State’s Lawrence Roberts, a preseason All-American. Fox and Frye held Roberts to just seven points (3-of-10 FG) and seven rebounds, nine points and four rebounds below his season averages. Additionally, the UA duo combined for 28 points and 20 rebounds. Frye scored a season-high 18 points to go with his career-best 16 rebounds, while Fox chipped in with a season-high 10 points. That was productivity was the driving force behind Arizona’s 34-22 points-in-the-paint scoring advantage vs. Mississippi State.
Marked Improvement: Sophomore Mustafa Shakur continues to produce in many different ways for the Wildcats. Sunday vs. Mississippi State, Shakur passed out a season-high nine assists and collected a game-high three steals to go with eight points in UA’s four-point win. Through seven games, Shakur is averaging 9.3 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game, while leading the team with 13 steals.
Tops in the Pac-10: In the annual poll of media members who regularly cover the Pac-10 Conference, Arizona was selected as the team to beat for the league title. The Cats received 19 of a possible 26 first-place votes and 253 points overall. Washington (237), Stanford (194) and Oregon (167) rounded out the top four places. It is the 10th time since 1989-90 that UA has been the predicted winner in the preseason poll.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 127-16 (.888) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats are 3-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Fendi Onobun (F, 6-7, 215) from Houston, Texas, Alief Taylor High School; J.P. Prince (G, 6-6, 183) from Memphis, Tenn., White Station High School; and Marcus Williams (F, 6-6, 190) from Seattle, Wash., Roosevelt High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Arizona gets the week off for final exams then hits the road for its final road game in December. The Cats play at Marquette on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 1 p.m. CST. The game will be televised by ESPN.