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02-25 USC Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/25/2008
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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (9-18, 3-13 Pac-10) travels to Los Angeles to face USC (17-10, 10-6 Pac-10) on Thursday, Feb. 28 in the Galen Center.? The Wildcats are looking to end a five-game losing streak and beat USC for the first time since 2005.

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Catch the Action:

As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Derrick Palmer and Shannon Hobson calling the action from courtside.? Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats and live video needs.

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Joan Bonvicini Coachˇ?s Show:

Hosted by Wildcat radio announcer Derrick Palmer, the Joan Bonvicini Coachˇ?s Show is broadcast live from 6-7 p.m. every Monday on KTUC 1400 AM and is held at the Varsity Clubs of America, located at Speedway and Alvernon. The show features Bonvicini with several special guests, ranging from players to staff members.

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Washington State Recap:

Alexa Price scored a career-high 16 points and made 4 of Washington Stateˇ?s season high 13 three-pointers for a 67-54 victory over Arizona on Saturday.

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The Cougars (5-22, 2-14), which had lost 16 of 17, won its second Pac-10 game in their previous 33.

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Washington State reached its season high for three-pointers by the first half, making 10 of 17 attempts to build a 43-24 lead.

While Price came off the bench to ignite the Cougars, Heather Molzen, Katie Appleton and Kezia Kelly scored 12 points apiece.

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Ify Ibekwe scored 15 points to lead Arizona (9-18, 3-13). Amina Njonkou added 13 points, while Ashley Whisonant had 10.

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The Cougars didnˇ?t cool off from the perimeter after the halftime break with Appleton, the Pac-10ˇ?s leading percentage three-point shooter, connecting from beyond the line for a 53-32 edge with 14:30 remaining.

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Washington State went ahead 63-39 on a three-pointer from Salena Dickerson with 7:20 left. The Cougars, a 30 percent three-point shooting team on the season, finished by hitting on 13 of 29 threeˇ?s. Arizona did not make its first three-pointer until Ashley Gilpin connected with 56 seconds left. The Wildcats were 1 for 12.

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Seven different Washington State players connected on at least one three-pointer, with Kelly knocking one down with 43 seconds remaining before halftime to go ahead by 21.

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Appleton tied the Cougarsˇ? season high for threeˇ?s with nine with 1:28 left. Price made her fourth three-pointer with 3:55 remaining to go ahead 35-18.

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Molzen made only her sixth three-pointer of the year with 11:22 remaining in the first half. It was the fifth three-pointer for the Cougars in their initial six field goals of the game.

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A Quick Look at Arizona:

Arizona averages 62.7 points a game while shooting 40.7 percent from the field, 25.1 percent from three-point range, and 65.3 percent from the free throw line. Senior Ashley Whisonant leads Arizona with 15.6 points a game (fourth in the Pac-10) while posting 3.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game (second in the Pac-10).? Junior Amina Njonkou adds 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.

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About the Women of Troy:

The USC Women of Troy enter Thursdayˇ?s game with a 17-10 overall record and a 10-6 mark in the Pac-10.? USC had won four-straight games before dropping a 54-55 decision at Oregon State on Saturday.? As a team, USC shoots 40.7 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from three-point range and 64.3 percent from the free throw line.? Nadia Parker leads the team with 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, and Camille LeNoir adds 10.4 points a game.? Head coach ? Mark Trakh is in his fourth season at the helm of the USC program.

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Series Notes:

Thursdayˇ?s game will be the 61st meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Women of Troy on the hardwood, with USC owning a 44-16 all-time series advantage.? USC has won the last six-straight in the series, and eight of the last nine, including a 77-70 win over Arizona back on Dec. 28, 2007.? Since 1996, Arizona leads the series by a mark of 14-12.

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Streaky:

After beating New Mexico on the road in ˇ?The Pitˇ± (Dec. 15), the Wildcats had posted their fourth-straight win and were rolling with a 6-4 record.? Since that game, Arizona had lost eight-straight games before beating Washington State on Jan. 24, its longest losing streak since dropping nine-straight during the 2005-06 season.?

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The Newest Wildcats:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team has added walk-ons Ashley Gilpin and Sabreena Berger to its roster.?

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Gilpin, a senior from Las Cruces, N.M., is a 5-foot-9 guard currently studying psychology at the UA.? She hails from Mayfield HS, the same high school current Wildcat Marie McGee attended, and where the two were teammates.

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Berger, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, is from San Diego, Calif., and played high school ball at Point Loma HS.

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On the Road:

The Wildcats have been racking up those frequent flyer miles so far this season, as Arizona started the season playing nine of their first 15 games on the road.? Arizona will also end the regular season with five of its last seven games on the road.? With trips to the Bay Area, Washington, Oregon, Green Bay, Wis., Penn State, NC State, Long Beach, Calif., and New Mexico under their belts, the Wildcats have already racked up a grand total of 21,800 round trip miles.? This week, Arizona will add another 1,000 roundtrip miles to their portfolio with a trip to Los Angeles.? Arizona also gets to end the regular season with a trip to San Jose, Calif., for the Pac-10 Tournament.? Weˇ?ll keep you posted on when the Wildcats earn their free round trip to anywhere in the United States.

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Arizona Head Coach Joan Bonvicini (17th season):

The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 17 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.? Under Bonvicini's tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 11 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history.

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During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.? Bonvicini's success is mirrored in her players' accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 22 All-Pac-10 honorees, 17 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 18 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 286-221 (.564) mark at Arizona and is 611-292 (.674) in 29 years as a head coach. On Feb. 8, 2007, Bonvicini became the 18th coach in NCAA Division I women's basketball history to reach the 600 win milestone with a 65-61 victory over Oregon State in McKale Center. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.

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500:

Head coach Joan Bonvicini reached another milestone on Jan. 26, at Washington.? The game at Washington marked head coach Joan Bonviciniˇ?s 500th game as the leader of the Wildcat program.? She became just the sixth coach in Arizona history in any sport to coach 500 games.

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900:

In Arizonaˇ?s game at Stanford on Feb. 14, head coach Joan Bonvicini coached in her 900th career game on the sidelines.? She became the 14th head coach in NCAA Division I womenˇ?s basketball history to coach in 900 games.?

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Road Warriors:

With a wins against Long Beach State and New Mexico, the Wildcats managed to win two-straight road games for the first time since the 2004-05 season.? Arizona last won two-straight on the road in December of 2004 with wins at Chicago State and Washington.?

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Pit This:

Arizona went into New Mexicoˇ?s Pit and did something most visiting teams canˇ?t do: win.? The Wildcats snapped the Lobosˇ? 13-game home winning streak with their 44-36 win, as New Mexico was 7-0 on the season before that game.

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Slow Starts:

Through 27games, Arizona has been outscored 920-756 by opponents in the first half, and is 4-15 when trailing at the half.? When leading at the half or tied at the half, Arizona is 5-3.? Arizona trailed Washington State 43-24 in Saturdayˇ?s loss.

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Shoot better = W:

As simple as it may seem, Arizonaˇ?s best equation for winning ball games is to shoot better than its opponents.? The Wildcats are 9-4 so far this season when outshooting the opposition.? Although Arizona outshot Washington 46.9 percent (23-49) to 42 percent (21-50) last Thursday, the Huskies escaped with a two-point win.

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Almost History:

Arizonaˇ?s 44-36 win over New Mexico came very close to some intriguing historical proportions.? Arizonaˇ?s 44 points in the win was the programˇ?s lowest point total in a victory since beating Utah, 46-36, on Jan. 17 1974.? Arizonaˇ?s school low for a point total in a win is 36 in a win (36-30) over Northern Arizona on Feb. 10, 1973.

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Making History:

Arizonaˇ?s shooting against Cal on Jan. 19 made some dubious school history.? In that game, the Wildcats shot a school record low 24.1 percent from the field (13-54) in Pac-10 play.? Arizonaˇ?s 13 field goals in the game are also a school record low in Pac-10 play.

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Toe That Line:

So far, the Wildcats have shown an ability as a team to get to the free throw line.? Arizona has made it to the line 498 times (18.4 free throw attempts per game), but is only shooting 65.3 percent (325-498) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting 71.1 percent (322-453) from the line against the Cats this season.

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Last week, Arizona shot 58.3 percent (21-36) from the free throw line in two games, including a 13-of-23 mark (56.5 percent) against Washington State.

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Make Those Free Throws:

Free throw shooting has been a major factor in Arizonaˇ?s ability to win and lose games.? In the Wildcatsˇ? loss against USC (Dec. 28), Arizona shot 17-of-29 from the line (58.6 percent) against the Women of Troy, including a 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) mark in the second half.? Poor shooting from the line kept Arizona from making legitimate comeback attempt at the end of the game, as the Wildcats scored five-straight points in the final 22 seconds of the game to cut the deficit to seven points.? Against UCLA (Jan. 30), Arizona shot 19-of-29 from the line (65.5 percent) against the Bruins, including an 11-of-18 mark (61.1 percent).? Even though the 19 free throws were the second most for the Wildcats on the season, not being able to hit free throws in the second half prevented another comeback attempt, as Arizona cut the deficit to six points with 33 seconds to play in the game.

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Despite playing with six players, and with four players down the stretch, Arizona could have held off an Oregon State comeback (Jan. 3) had it hit its shots at the line.? The Wildcats shot a season-low 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line against the Beavers, including a 3-of-7 mark in the first half, and a 3-of-8 mark in overtime.

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Against Oregon (Jan. 5), the Wildcats erased a 16-point second half deficit and trailed 56-53 with 1:10 left to play, but shot 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the charity stripe.? On Feb. 21, Arizona was 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from the line, including a 5-of-9 clip in the second half in a two-point loss to Washington at home.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

Arizona can put on some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through 27 games, Arizona has forced 531 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 19.4 turnovers a game.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 213 steals so far on the season for a 7.9 steals per game average.? Arizona ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in the steals department, but finished with a season-low total of two steals against Washington State.

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Rejectmuch:

Last season, Arizona tallied 51 blocked shots the entire season.? This year, it is a different story.? The Wildcats surpassed last yearˇ?s total in 15 games with 53 blocks, and own 97 blocks in 27 games.? Arizona currently ranks second in the Pac-10 in the blocks department behind Stanford, averaging 3.6 blocks a game.? A big reason for the complete 180 when it comes to blocks has with its aggressive play upfront.? Freshman Ify Ibekwe leads the team with 25 blocks on the year, and junior Beatrice Bofia is second on the team with 23 blocks.? Sophomore Rheya Neabors is third on the squad with 17 blocks so far this season.? Arizona has posted four blocks or more in 11 games so far, including eight of the last 14 contests, and has recorded 34 blocked shots in the last nine games.

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Paint Job:

So far, Arizona has been doing a solid job scoring in the paint.? Through 27 games, the Wildcats have posted 881 points in the paint, which accounts for 51.1 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (1,692), and average 32.6 points per game down low.? Arizona scored 32 of its 54 points (59 percent) against Washington State in the paint on Saturday.

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Pac-10ˇ?s Best:

In Pac-10 play, a few Wildcats have been tearing it up.? Through 16 Pac-10 contests, senior Ashley Whisonant is averaging 16.2 points a game, second in the Pac-10, and a league best 37.9 minutes of action.? Junior Amina Njonkou is eighth in scoring and fifth in rebounding with 14.1 points and 8.0 rebounds a game in league play, and is the top offensive rebounder in conference play by pulling down 63 offensive rebounds.? Freshman Ify Ibekwe ranks fourth in blocked shots (1.42) and sixth in rebounding (7.6) in Pac-10 play.

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AW Leads the Way:

Senior guard Ashley Whisonant has been counted on to lead at the point this season, and she has flourished in that position.? Whisonant has played at an All-Pac-10 level all season long.? The Bowie, Md., native is averaging a team-high 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game while snagging 1.7 steals a contest.? She is also averaging a team-high 37.3 minutes per contest.? Whisonant ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring average, second in assists per game, and first in minutes per game.?

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Game of a Lifetime:

Ashley Whisonant showed why she is one of the best players in the Pac-10 at Oregon State on Jan. 3.? Whisonant led a team of just six players with a career-high 34 points in 48 minutes of action.? Her 34 points is the fourth-best mark in school history, one point shy of the all-time school record (35 points).? She tied a school record with 15 field goal attempts, and set a new school record with 29 field goal attempts.?

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All-Time Scorer:?

Ashley Whisonant scored her 1,000th career point in the final game of the season last year, and look for her to continue to climb up the Arizona all-time point leader list this season.? So far this season, Whisonant has moved up nine spots on the all-time Arizona scorers list, and currently ranks fifth all-time with 1,423 career points in 120 games (11.9 career ppg average).? Her 20 points at Washington moved her past Timi Brown (1987-91, 1,315 points) for fifth-place all-time in school history.? She now needs 44 points to tie former teammate Shawntinice Polk (2003-05, 1,467 points) for fourth all-time.? With 23 points against Washington last Thursday, she became just the fifth player in school history to amass 1,400 career points.

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On Fire:

So far this season, Whisonant has posted double-figures in points in 22 of 27 games, including 13 of the last 15.? After being held to 13 total points in two games last weekend at Stanford and Cal, Whisonant regained her form with a game-high 23 points against the Huskies last Thursday, and had 10 points and eight assists against Washington State on Saturday.

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Ms. 100:

Senior Ashley Whisonant has been a constant in the Arizona lineup ever since her freshman season, and she is on pace to be one of Arizonaˇ?s all-time leaders in games played.? She played in her 100th career game against NAU (Dec. 6), and is on pace to finish her career with 123 games played, a figure that will rank No. 3 all-time in school history.

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Looking For a Dime:

With each dime Ashley Whisonant dishes out, she is moving to the top of the line on Arizonaˇ?s all-time career assists list.? With 392 career assists, Whisonant is now the No. 9 assists disher in Arizona history.?

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Whisonant has 127 is a career-high on the season, marking her third-straight season with 100 or more assists.

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Amina the Bull:

Junior forward Amina Njonkou is a force down low in the paint, and her strength allows her to bull over defenders.? The 6-foot-1 Cameroon native has posted double-figures in points in 20 of the last 21 games, including a span of 19-straight, posting nine double-doubles during that stretch.?

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On the season, Njonkou is averaging 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds a game while shooting 49.8 percent (125-251) from the field, the seventh-best mark in the Pac-10.? In Pac-10 play, Njonkou is averaging 14.1 points and 8.0 rebounds a game, and is shooting a team-best 74.4 percent (98-133) from the free throw line.

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Double-Double Machine:

Before her 17 point and nine rebound performance against Oregon State (Jan. 3), Amina Njonkou had posted double-doubles four straight games, putting her in some very exclusive company in the Arizona history books.? Njonkou became the first player to record four-straight double-doubles since Shawntinice Polk posted five-straight double-doubles during the 2003-04 season (Feb. 7-19).? Njonkou has 11 double-doubles so far on the season after finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds against Washington State on Saturday, the second best total in the Pac-10.

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Big Lift:

Sophomore Rheya Neabors has been picking up her game as of late. The 6-foot-1 lefty forward has scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games, including a 10-point performance against Washington. ?Over the last 10 games she is averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 34.7 minutes a game.? On the season, Neabors is averaging 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game.

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Spark Plug:

When freshman Ify Ibekwe is on the floor, you will definitely take notice.? The 6-foot-1 forward seems to be everywhere on the court for the Wildcats, and always seems to be around to grab a rebound, block a shot or snatch a steal.? Since coming back from an eye injury, Ibekwe is averaging 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.? She has posted six or more rebounds in each of the last 11 games, including 11 against California, 10 against Washington and 13 against Oregon State.? She also leads the team with 25 blocks on the season.? Through 21 games, Ibekwe leads the team with a 7.7 rebounds per game average and posts 10.3 points a game.? She finished nine points and nine rebounds against Washington to go with two steals, a point and a rebound away from her fifth double-double of the season, and had 15 points and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes against WSU.

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Hays Factor:

Junior forward Sarah Hays quietly goes about her business on the court but her presence is definitely felt in the box score for Arizona.? At Cal, Hays finished with a season-high eight points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with six rebounds in 22 minutes of action.? She posted six points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes against WSU.? She has started the last four games for the Wildcats, and is averaging 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds a game this season.

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Cats Picked To Finish Eighth in the Pac-10:

The University of Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team was selected to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conferenceˇ?s head coaches.? The Wildcats garnered 31 points in the poll, as seven-time defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this yearˇ?s Pac-10 title.

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The Cardinal received eight of 10 first-place votes and 79 points, as Arizona State received a first-place nod and tallied 71 points to place second. California was tabbed to finish third with a first-place vote and 68 points, followed by fourth-place USC with 56 points and fifth-place UCLA with 44 points. Washington grabbed 41 points to place sixth, followed by Oregon (34), as Arizona (31), Oregon State (16) and Washington State (10) rounded out the poll.

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Tough Schedule:

Year in and year out, Arizona never runs away from a challenge, but rather takes on the best teams in the nation head on during the nonconference schedule before playing in the always daunting Pac-10 Conference.

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The Wildcats will play 29 games during 2007-08, 13 games in McKale Center and 16 on the road, with 14 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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The UA will take on 10 teams that competed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, with non-conference matchups against Middle Tennessee State, Pittsburgh, Boise State, New Mexico, NC State, and UW-Green Bay, along with Pac-10 series against California, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State.

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Rank This:

Arizonaˇ?s tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this yearˇ?s preseason rankings.? In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN and AP Preseason poll, five of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the regular season.? Arizona will face No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 California, No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 25 NC State.? Additionally, six other Arizona opponents (Middle Tennessee, USC, New Mexico, UCLA, Boise State and Wisconsin-Green Bay) each received votes in the poll.

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Up Next:

Arizona will play in its regular season finale at UCLA on Saturday, March 1 at 11 a.m. in Pauley Pavilion.? The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net.

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