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Wildcats Host Huskies on Saturday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/05/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 5, 2010

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Date: Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time: 12:00 p.m. (MT)

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)

Tip Off Time: Arizona will be looking to remain unbeaten in the second half of Pac-10 play and record its second home weekend sweep of the campaign when the Wildcats host the University of Washington on Saturday, February 6 in a noon-time tip at McKale Center.

Catch the Action: Entering his third season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.

Coaches Show: The Niya Butts Show will broadcast once again this Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer will host the show and ask questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. The show will most likely broadcast from the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Series Notes: The Huskies hold a 32-17 all-time advantage in the series with the Wildcats dating back to their first-ever meeting on November 24, 1979. After winning both meetings last season, Arizona dropped a 69-59 decision in Seattle back on January 9. Arizona led by eight with 10:33 to play after a pair of free throws by Ify Ibekwe, but Washington scored the next 15 points and limited the Cats to just 11 points over the final half of the second period while amassing 29 points in that same stretch. Davellyn Whyte led the way for the Cats with 20 points while Ibekwe added 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. The Wildcats were just 7-of-30 (.233) from the field in the second half and tallied a .295 clip (18-of-61) overall for the contest. Kristi Kingma led all players with 25 points for the Huskies. Arizona is 11-13 all-time in McKale Center against Washington.

Scouting the Huskies: Under the guidance of 3rd-year head coach Tia Jackson, Washington is tied with the Cats for 7th place in the Pac-10. The Huskies have lost 5-of-6 contests since the first time the two teams met, picking up their only win over the last four weeks in a 76-70 overtime victory against in-state rival Washington State. Senior Sami Whitcome is the only Washington player averaging in double figures, tallying 14.6 points per game while also adding 6.1 rebounds. The Huskies do, however, have 8 other players averaging between 4.6 and 9.4 points per contest.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.

Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).

Last Time Out: Arizona broke away from a 48-48 tie with a 13-2 run midway through the second half to start the back end of Pac-10 play with a 73-66 win over Washington State on Thursday evening. The Wildcats squandered a 12-point first half lead as the Cougars scored the final nine points of the half, then tallied 6-of-8 to start the second half. However, the visitors would never lead by more than a point and the Wildcats never led by less than five down the stretch. Davellyn Whyte led all scorers with 20 points while also adding 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Ify Ibekwe chipped in with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Soana Lucet tallied 18 points and 5 rebounds. Reiko Thomas made her first start of the season and had 8 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and 3 assists. April Cook had 13 points to lead the way for the Cougars, who were outrebounded, 48-38, and allowed the Wildcats 40 points in the paint.

Last Time Out for Washington: The Huskies battled back from a 11-point halftime deficit to force overtime, but made just 1-of-4 shots in the extra session in falling at Arizona State on Thursday evening, 67-61. A lay-up by Laura McLellan with 1:25 to play gave the Huskies a 55-53 lead, but Kimberly Brandon converted a third-chance opportunity for the Sun Devils to knot the score and force the extra session. In overtime, Kayli Bennett broke a 59-59 tie to give Arizona State the lead for good as the Sun Devils converted 7-of-9 free throws in the final 41 seconds to hold on for the victory. McLellan led all scorers with 18 points to go along with 6 rebounds while Kristi Kingma and Sami Whitcomb and 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Statistical Comparison: Arizona is averaging 68.2 points per game, good for third in the Pac-10, while Washington averages 62.2 points per contest, besting only Oregon State in the league. On the defensive end, the Huskies are allowing 65.1 points per game while the Cats yield 68.4 to the opposition. Neither team has performed well in the rebounding department as the Wildcats allow 1.9 more rebounds per game to the opposition while the Huskies have a deficit of 2.1 per outing. Arizona has been 22 points more effective from the field while both teams shoot around 32 percent from three-point range. Washington does own the edge from the free throw line, besting Arizona by 35 percentage points.

Moving Forward: Arizona got its month of February off to a solid start with a win on Thursday evening. Last season, the Wildcats picked up three of their four conference wins in the month of February, including a 72-62 win over the Huskies in McKale Center on February 28.

Building Blocks: The win over Washington State did more than just even the Arizona record at 10-10 on the season. Arizona matched its Pac-10 win total from a season ago with eight Pac-10 games remaining this time around. The Wildcats have also won three-straight games over the Cougars dating back to the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament. The season sweep of the Cougars was just the second for head coach Niya Butts in her second season in charge of the Wildcats after picking up two wins over Oregon last season. Prior to being named head coach, Washington State was also the last team Arizona had swept during the regular season, pulling off that feat in the 2006-07 campaign.

Changing of the Guard: For just the second time in 20 games this season, Arizona head coach Niya Butts tinkered with her starting lineup, inserting sophomore guard Reiko Thomas in the place of fellow sophomore guard Brooke Thomas. Looking to both reward Thomas for excellent play of late as well as give Jackson a chance to energize the team as a reserve, the duo combined for 11 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. The only other time the Cats had a changed starting five was against UC Riverside on December 23rd when Amanda Pierson made her only start in the place of Ify Ibekwe.

Return of Reiko: After coming off the bench for the previous 27-straight games in her Arizona career, Reiko Thomas returned to the Wildcats starting lineup for the first time since taking the floor for tip-off at UCLA on February 12 of last season. Thomas started the first 16 games of her career, then came off the bench for three games before making three-straight starts. Including her 8 points on Thursday evening, Thomas has averaged 11 points per game when earning the start.

Board Work: After allowing 52 rebounds to league-leading Stanford last Saturday afternoon, Arizona bounced back with a 48-rebound effort on Thursday evening against Washington State and posted a plus-10 margin on the glass. The 48 boards was the third-highest total of the season for the Wildcats and most since pulling down 47 in an overtime loss to USC on January 3. Arizona had been averaging just 30 rebounds per game over the last five contests and 35.1 boards per game in Pac-10 play.

Eight is Great: Arizona saw all eight of its players record points on Thursday evening, including a total of nine points from its three reserves. The last time the Wildcats had at least 8 players score points in a game was its final game of the 2009 calendar year, a 86-50 home triumph over Alabama A&M on December 29.

Turnover Toils: For the 8th time in the 2009-10 season, Arizona committed at least 20 turnovers in a game with its 24 giveaways against Washington State. Despite the miscues, Arizona has surprisingly claimed a 6-2 mark in those games with losses coming to San Diego State and UCLA when yielding 27 and 22 turnovers, respectively.

Doing It With Defense: The Wildcats limited Washington State to a 36.2 percent field goal percentage on Thursday evening, marking the 14th time in 20 contests Arizona has held its opponent under 40 percent shooting for a game. The Cats are 9-5 in those contests and started the season with six-straight games of holding the opposition under the .400 from the field.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a senior guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, was named the ESPN RISE girls basketball player of the week for the Southeast region after tallying a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 68-27 win over Evans. Rated the #20 point guard in the 2010 class by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Warthen also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark this season and is averaging 29.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.7 steals and 3.8 assists for the 19-4 Screaming Devils.

Conference Standouts: Arizona began the 2nd half of Pac-10 play with several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.9 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 92.7 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 3rd in the league in scoring at 18.0 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.7 per contest, 5th in 3-point field goal percentage at .398 and 9th in field goal percentage with a .475 tally. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.6 per outing, good for 10th place. Ibekwe is also 4th in both blocked shots with a 1.5 average and in steals with 2.3 per game, 7th in field goal percentage at .493 and 10th in scoring with 14.5 per game. As a team, the Wildcats are 3rd in field goal percentage (.434) and field goal percentage defense (.378), 4th in scoring (68.2) and 5th in both 3-point field goals per game (5.2) and 3-point percentage (.326).

National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in scoring (89th, 68.2), field goal percentage (43rd, .434), personal fouls per game (89th, 16.3) and field goal percentage defense (90th, .377). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 4th in the nation in rebounding at 11.9 per contest, 6th in double-doubles with 13, 58th in field goal percentage at .493, 97th in blocked shots with 1.5 and 100th in steals per game with 2.3. Davellyn Whyte is 36th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.7, 42nd in scoring at 18.0 per game, 53rd in 3-point field goal percentage at .398 as well as 75th in field goal percentage at .482.

Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.

Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.

All-American Girl: Her impressive numbers also landed Ibekwe on the Associated Press All-America honorable mention list. She became just the 7th player in Arizona history to be named to one of the All-America teams and the first since Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk earned the honor following the 2004-05 campaign. Ibekwe was also a finalist for theJohn R. Wooden Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women's basketball and was chosen to attend the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Trials over the summer. Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently in third place in the Arizona record books with 35 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 13-of-20 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently 1 double-double behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could match this season if she can post the double digits in every remaining regular season game plus two postseason contests.

Milennium Milestone: If Ibekwe can score 14 points on Saturday evening against Washington, the junior forward would become just the 16th player in Arizona history to record 1,000 career points. She would move into a tie for 15th place on the Arizona all-time scoring list with Melissa Handley, who finished her career with exactly 1,000 points. The last player to join the 1,000-point club was Ashley Whisonant, who reached that career milestone against Oregon State in the semfinal round of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament.

Climbing the Charts: With no fewer than 10 games remaining this season, Ibekwe would move into 14th place on the Arizona all-time scoring list if she maintains her current scoring average of 14.5 points per game. A total of 145 points added to her current total of 986 would put her with 1131 for her career, just 13 points behind Yolanda Turner at 1,144 points.

Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte shot almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438) in wins over Iona and Miami (Ohio). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 18.0 points per game while shooting .398 from three-point range, .475 from the field and grabbing 4.1 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch since the start of Pac-10 play, averaging 21.4 points to go along with 3.6 rebounds while shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from distance.

Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.

Rewriting History: The Wildcats lone freshman began flirting with history early on in her debut season before finally making it as she tallied a school-record 39 points against Oregon last month. She finished 12-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and connected on 10-of-12 free throws. She bested the previous single-game scoring record of 35 points held by three different players. At the time, it was the most points scored by a Pac-10 player in 2009-10 and is still the 2nd-highest total of the season.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 20 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance against Oregon, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte matched that mark after just 20 games this season. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting third overall in the league with 2.7 three-point shots made per contest. She was the first Pac-10 player this season with two games of 30-plus points and has scored in double figures in 17-of-20 outings.

Up Next: Arizona hits the road for an important two-game swing into Oregon, making its final appearance at legendary McArthur Court on Thursday, February 11. The Cats then make the short trip to Corvallis to battle Oregon State at Gill Coliseum on Saturday, February 13. Both games are set to tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

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