March 8, 2002
Date: Friday, March 8, 2002 Time: approx. 8:30 p.m. PST Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
GAME DATA: Fifteenth-ranked Arizona (20-9, 12-6 Pac-10) advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament for the fourth consecutive time with a 73-56 win over intrastate rival Arizona State on Thursday ... The Wildcats, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, will face No. 3 seed California (22-7, 12-6 Pac-10) in Friday's second semifinal ... Thursday's win over ASU gave the Cats a win in the season series with the Sun Devils for the seventh consecutive season ... Arizona has now won 10 consecutive Pac-10 Tournament games dating back to 1988 and is the only school to have appeared in four consecutive Pac-10 Tournament semifinals ... Since 1996-97, Arizona is 26-9 (.743) in the month of March.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH LUTE OLSON . . . is in his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 659-234 (.738) and 467-142 (.767) at Arizona ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 31-9 vs. California.
LAST TIME OUT: Luke Walton collected 25 points and eight rebounds and Jason Gardner added 22 points as the Wildcats defeated Arizona State, 73-56, in the first-ever neutral-site meeting in 201 games between the intrastate rivals at the 2002 Pac-10 Tournament. Walton scored 11 of his points in the first half in helping the squad to a nine-point lead at the break and Gardner tallied 13 in the second, as UA extended the lead to as many as 20 points. UA held the Sun Devils to 34.8 percent shooting for the game and outrebounded them 47-39.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game marks the 63rd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 39-23 series advantage. The Wildcats have won six straight and nine of the last 10 games in the series, which dates back to 1923, including a 99-53 win in Tucson on March 2. See page 86 in the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 99, California 53, March 2, 2002. Bolstered by a 30-4 run to open the second half, Arizona handed California its second-worst defeat in school history, 99-53. The Cats, who led by 19 points at the break, held Cal to 30 percent shooting in the second half and just four points in that half's first 10:23. Six UA players finished in double figures, led by Rick Anderson's 17 points, and Luke Walton came up three rebounds shy of his second career triple-double.
QUICK HITS: Arizona is 13-1 when outrebounding the opposition this season ... The Cats are 13-2 when ahead at the break ... UA is 16-1 when outshooting the opposition ... Thursday's 17-point win was the team's fifth this season of more than 15 points ... Arizona now has 10 wins all-time in Pac-10 Tournament play, which is more wins than the combined total (9) of the three other remaining teams.
RECORD SETTING PERFORMANCE: Jason Gardner's 12-of-12 free throw effort tied a UA single-game record for free throw accuracy shared by three other players, last equaled by Jason Terry in 1999. Incidentally, Gardner is currently riding a streak of 30 consecutive free throws made. That is nine shy of the school record set by Salim Stoudamire earlier this season.
BOARD WORK: With a 47-39 advantage on the glass vs. Arizona State, the Wildcats have now outrebounded three of its last four opponents. Leading the way for Arizona on Thursday was junior forward Rick Anderson, who gathered a career-high 14.
20-WIN PLATEAU: Thursday's win over Arizona State gave the Wildcats its 20th win of the year, which extends its current streak to 15 consecutive years with 20 or more wins. It is Olson's 24th 20-win season in 29 years as a college head coach.
SHOT SELECTION: Over his last six games, Jason Gardner is shooting 53.2 percent (41-of-77) from the field and 55.3 percent from three-point range (26-of-47). The late-season push leaves him just four treys away from becoming just the third player in school history to make 100 or more three-point field goals in a single season, joining Steve Kerr (1988) and Damon Stoudamire (1995).
CARRYING THE LOAD: Luke Walton's 25-point night Thursday was the junior's 20th double-figure scoring game this season. It was also his seventh 20-point effort of 2001-01 and was just two points shy of a career high. On the other side of things, the two assists marked his lowest total of the season. He is averaging 15.5 points and 6.3 assists per game. Walton now has scored 403 points in 2001-02, which is 12 points higher than his career total entering this season.
MOVING UP: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,420 career points, which places him 15th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Steve Kerr, who tallied 1,445 points from 1984-88. Incidentally, Gardner has 71 double-figure scoring games in his 98-game career. He also became just the 10th player (accomplished 13 times) in UA history to score 600 points in a single-season in the ASU game yesterday
WARMING UP: Freshman guard Will Bynum put together his second straight strong effort by totaling 10 points and two steals in 24 minutes vs. Arizona State. The Chicago native hit 4-of-6 free throws en route to his seventh double-figure scoring effort of the year. He totaled 14 points in last Saturday's win over California in Tucson.
HELPING OUT: Since making a return to the starting lineup in an effort of aid in the club's rebounding effort four games ago, freshman Isaiah Fox has certainly made an impact. In those four games, Fox has grabbed 33 rebounds (8.3 rpg), a figure that ranks second only to Rick Anderson's 43.
CLAMPING DOWN: For the second straight game, Arizona did a good job of holding the opposition to less than 40 percent shooting, as Arizona State could only muster a 34.8 field goal percentage (24-of-69). In the last two games, Arizona opponents have connected on just 33.9 percent (43-of-127) of its field goal attempts.
A RARITY: Arizona tallied a season-low four assists in Thursday's win to go with 18 turnovers, which is the largest assist:tunover differential in a victory this season. The previous high-water mark in that category was -4 in the opening game of the year vs. Maryland.
AGAINST THE BEST: The Wildcats finished the regular season 8-6 against nationally-ranked opponents and have faced ranked opponents in four of its last five games. All told, 50 percent of Arizona's 2001-02 opponents have been ranked nationally at the time of the game. California enters Friday's semifinal with a No. 25 ranking by the Associated Press.
TOP CAT: UA finished the Pac-10 slate with a 12-6 record, marking the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that the Cats have won at least 12 conference games, a feat matched by no other league foe. Dating back to the 1984-85 campaign, Arizona has averaged 15 wins per season. The only time in that span that Arizona failed to win at least 12 league games was 1996-97, the year the Cats won the national championship.
400 CLUB: If the numbers hold up, the 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats has a chance to accomplish a rare statistical feat: have four players score at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (600 points) and Luke Walton (403) are already over the mark, while Salim Stoudamire (371) and Rick Anderson (368) are each within 32 points of 400. Obviously, the Cats would need to play a few more games, but it is possible that this club could join the 1999-2000 team as the only two to do it since 1987-88.
EARLY SIGNEES: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
UP NEXT: A victory puts Arizona into the championship game against the winner of the Oregon/USC game at 3 p.m. PST on Saturday. A loss sends the team back to Tucson in anticipation of the NCAA Tournament announcement on Sunday, March 10.