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Arizona Hosts New Mexico
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/08/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 8, 2009

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Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time: 6:00 p.m. (MT)

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

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

Tip Off Time: The Wildcats are hoping to extend their current winning streak to three games and wrap up a brief two-game homestand this Wednesday evening with a non-conference clash against neighboring New Mexico as part of a doubleheader with the Arizona men. Sean Miller and the Wildcats will host Louisiana Tech later in the evening on Olson Court.

Catch the Action: Entering his second 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 both the Arizona and San Diego women's basketball schedule pages.

Last Time Out: Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte led all scorers with 19 points as Arizona cruised to a 84-57 win over visiting Nevada last Friday evening. The Wildcats scored the first 10 points of the game, then used a 19-4 run in the second half to blow the game open. The Cats forced the Wolfpack into 28 turnovers and dominated play inside to the tune of 50 points. Arizona was also solid at the free throw line, connecting on 19-of-23 attempts. Ify Ibekwe and Jennifer Kioa each added 12 points while Amanda Pierson chipped in with 10 points.

Series Notes: Arizona leads the all-time series with its neighbor New Mexico by a 10-8 ledger. The Wildcats captured the last meeting between the two schools, a 44-36 victory in Albuquerque back on December 15, 2007. Arizona has split the six previous meetings with New Mexico in McKale Center, dropping the last game in Tucson back in 2006, 76-63. Overall, Arizona has won 3-of-4 meetings dating back to 2002 and 6-of-9 over the past 18 years.

Conference Matchup: The Wildcats have an all-time mark of 36-44 against the eight member schools that make up the Mountain West Conference, a league that celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2008-09. The Wildcats hold a winning record against half of the teams and are an even .500 against two others, but have struggled to a combined 6-23 record against Utah and San Diego State, including the team's only loss of the season to the Aztecs back on November 21.

Welcome Back: Arizona returns four players from the 2008-09 season while also returning one more team member that sat out the entire season. Juinor all-American Ify Ibekwe heads the group of veteran Cats after leading Arizona in almost every statistical category and earning 1st-team All-Pac-10 and All-Defensive Team honors. Senior point guard Ashley Frazier also returns after averaging a conference-best and school-record 39.6 minutes per game while sophomore Reiko Thomas rounds out the returning members of the backcourt. Sophomore guard Tasha Dickey is back at full strength after sitting out last season to have surgery on an injured foot that did not heal properly during the off-season.

Fresh Faces: With just enough for a starting five coming back, head coach Niya Butts and her staff signed six players during the recruiting period and plan to bring a new look and attitude to Arizona basketball. Four junior college players, one four-year transfer and one high school standout make up the group of newcomers. Jennifer Kioa and Amanda Pierson are a pair of post players that give the Cats much-needed height inside as well as the ability to defend, rebound and run the floor. Soana Lucet is a versatile wing player with excellent offensive skills while guard Brooke Jackson is a three-point threat while also bringing a well-rounded overall game. Prep standout Davellyn Whyte was the Gatorade Arizona High School Player of the Year last season and is expected to make an immediate contribution. Junior point guard Shanita Arnold will redshirt after transferring to Arizona from the University of Arkansas.

Scouting the Lobos: New Mexico, under the guidance of 15th-year head coach Don Flanagan, bring a 5-3 record into McKale Center. The Lobos dropped their last contest, a 65-55 decision at Texas Tech, after knocking off in-state rival New Mexico State by a 92-85 scoreline one week ago. Three Lobos are averaging in double figures, led by Amy Beggin at 14.4 points per game. Lauren Taylor (10.9) and Sara Halasz (10.8) also contribute to the Lobos' 71.1 points per game. Amanda Best leads the way on the glass with 5.5 rebounds per game.

Rolling on Twenties: In just six games this season, three different players have scored at least 20 points in a game. Junior forward Soana Lucet scored a game-high 22 points against San Diego last Friday, joining Davellyn Whyte (27 vs. Iona) and Brooke Jackson (20 vs. Ole Miss) in the exclusive group. Whyte nearly added a second 20-point game to her tally, but came up one point short against Nevada. Over 31 games last season, only three players were able to accomplish that feat with Ify Ibekwe leading the way after going for 20 or more points in seven different games.

Preseason Picks: Arizona was picked to finish 9th in both the Coaches and Media polls that were released last week. In each vote, the Wildcats were picked to finish ahead of just Washington. Nine-time defending champion Stanford was picked to add another crown to its mantle in both polls. Junior forward Ify Ibekwe was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 team after earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and All-Defensive First Team honors last season.

Youth is Served: With just four returning players with Pac-10 experience plus one year of service from Tasha Dickey, Arizona is the fourth-youngest team in all of NCAA Division I. Both Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee Tech return just four seasons of top-level experience while Central Arkansas brings back only five seasons of play. Rounding out the top five was Monmouth, which claims eight seasons.

Defending Their Turf: The Wildcats have continued to make it quite difficult for opposing teams to put the ball in the basket since head coach Niya Butts took over prior to the 2008-09 campaign. Visiting teams averaged just 56.9 points per game while shooting a paltry .375 from the field last season. The Cats allowed 70 or more points only twice, one of those coming in an overtime game, and held the opposition under 59 points in over half of their contests that included four sub-50-point allowances. This season, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 58 points per game and have limited Ole Miss and Nevada to .324 and .294 shooting percentages, respectively.

Roster Update: Junior guard Faihza Hill recently informed the coaching staff that she will no longer be part of the women's basketball program. Hill played in two games this season.

Injury Update: No new injuries were sustained against Nevada, so all nine members of the Wildcats should be at full strength and ready for play on Wednesday evening against New Mexico. The Wildcats also had the luxury of only two players logging 30 minutes or more last Friday, keeping their legs plenty fresh for this final game before a 10-day layoff.

National Notables: Ify Ibekwe continued to be among the nation's elite rebounders as the second round of national statistics was released on Tuesday afternoon. Ibekwe is currently second in the NCAA in rebounds per game at 13.2. She is also 5th in double-doubles (5) and 17th in steals per game (3.3) while Brooke Jackson is 23rd in three-point field goal percentage (.500). As a team, the Wildcats are 9th in field goal percentage defense (.328)

Setting the Schedule: Once again, the Wildcats will embark on a 29-game regular season schedule that will prove to be one of the most difficult in the Pac-10. The Cats will play eight games against teams that participated in last season's NCAA Tournament, including visits to Mountain West champion San Diego State on November 21 and a trip to ACC-member Georgia Tech on December 20. The Wildcats will also play road games at San Diego and UC Riverside following the season-opening tournament at Iona. At home in McKale Center, Arizona will entertain SEC-foe Ole Miss, Nevada, New Mexico and Alabama A&M prior to the beginning of Pac-10 play.

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). 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 each of those categories, sharing the team lead in field goals with Davellyn Whyte at 28, while also pacing the team with 20 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.

National Notable: 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 the John 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 27 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in each of the five 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 9 double-doubles behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could pass this season at her current pace with no fewer than 25 games remaining.

Milennium Milestone: With a total of 768 points for her career, Ibekwe is on track to become the 16th player in Arizona history to amass 1,000 points. She would need to average just over 10 points per game to accomplish the feat by the end of the regular season. She is currently averaging 12.6 points per game after tallying 15.7 per contest last season. Ibekwe is 199 points from entering the Top 20, a spot held by Felecity Willis at 967 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 Iona College Tip-Off Tournament last weekend. Whyte logged 44 minutes in her Arizona debut, tallying a game-high 27 points while adding 8 rebounds in the 75-70 overtime win against Iona. She then scored 11 points against Miami (Ohio) and finished the weekend shooting almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 13.0 points per game while shooting a solid .367 from three-point range and grabbing 5.0 rebounds per contest.

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.

Action Jackson: Sophomore guard Brooke Jackson has shown a tremendous all-around game in her brief time wearing a Arizona uniform. She scored 13 points in each of her first two games and also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest. She has thus far scored in double figures in 4-of-5 games, including a season-best 20 points against Ole Miss. Jackson is currently third on the Wildcats in scoring at 11.7 points per game and has hit on 12-of-24 attempts from beyond the arc, an incredible 50.0 percent.

Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 31 times through the first six games for an average of over five per game. With Jackson and Whyte combining to shoot over 40 percent from threedom, the Cats have increased their clip from distance by almost 100 percentage points from last season after shooting only 27.9 percent. The Wildcats have also drained three more treys than the opposition after allowing 113 more three-balls last season to opposing teams.

More About The Three Ball: The Cats are hoping to challenge the 1996 season, the best statistically in program history in regards to three-point shooting. That team hit 176 for the season and connected at a .382 clip. If the current Wildcats average six made three-pointers through the season and play 31 games like last season, the team would finish with a school-record 186 treys..

Long Way From Home: The Wildcats have had a number of players in the program from foreign countries in recent years, but none has had to come further to Tucson than junior forward Soana Lucet. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho is a native of New Caledonia, a collection of islands located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The non-self-governing nation is a territory of France and is approximately half the size of Taiwan at just over 7,100 square miles. Lucet is the first female from New Caledonia to play collegiately in the United States and was named her country's best Under-18 player two years ago. Lucet had her best game with the Wildcats against San Diego with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting and is averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Family Ties: Several members of the Wildcats have ties to either other Arizona teams, other colleges or professional clubs. The father of Tasha Dickey is currently an assistant football coach at Kansas State while Devon White, the father of Davellyn Whyte, is on staff with the Washington Nationals and was a Major League Baseball all-star during his career. Brooke Jackson welcomed younger sister, Cami, to the Arizona track and field team this season.

Up Next: The Wildcats will have 11 days away from game play after the New Mexico game before heading to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech on Sunday, December 20. The Cats will wrap up the pre-Christmas slate with a quick turnaround on Wednesday, December 23 at UC Riverside, both of those final two games set to tip-off at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific, respectively).

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