Game 7: No. 21 Arizona (4-2) vs. No. 15 Mississippi State (5-1)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 5, 2004
Time: 1:30 p.m. PST
Location: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (17,600), Anaheim, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: WGN (Rich Waltz/James Worthy), HDNet (Barry Tompkins/Dan Belluomini)
Game Data: No. 21 Arizona (4-2, 0-0 Pac-10) travels to Anaheim, Calif., Sunday to take part in the 11th annual John R. Wooden Classic against No. 15 Mississippi State (5-1, 0-0 SEC) ... Fresh off the busiest November in program history, Arizona faces its second nationally ranked opponent in the last nine days ... 2004 marks the Wildcats’ third appearance in the Wooden Classic, joining prior visits in 1996 and 2001.
The Rankings: Arizona slipped to No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. UA has been ranked in 288 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 715-251 (.740) and 523-159 (.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 1-1 against Mississippi State.
Last Time Out: An 18-2 Arizona run that started late in the first half broke open a tight game Tuesday as the Wildcats sprinted to a 98-70 win over Wyoming. UA shot 52.9 percent from the field and used full-court pressure to take the Cowboys out of its rhythm in the second half, outscoring UW, 53-33. Four Wildcats finished in double figures, led by Jawann McClellan and Salim Stoudamire who each netted 19. Seven UA players grabbed at least four boards as the Cats posted a +13 rebound advantage.
Scouting Mississippi State: The Bulldogs enter Sunday’s game with 5-1 record (pending Wednesday’s game with South Alabama) after an 82-64 win, Nov. 23, over UMKC. MSU shoots 42.9 percent from the field (145-of-338), posts a +2.5 rebound margin and outscores the opposition by 9.7 points per game. Individually, two players average in double figures, led by Lawrence Roberts’ 15.5 points per game average. Roberts also leads the club with a 10.8 rebounds per game average.
The Series: Sunday’s game marks the third meeting of the two schools with the series knotted at one win apiece. Mississippi State won the last series meeting, 75-74 on Dec. 30, 2000, in the championship game of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic. All-time, Arizona is 0-1 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Starkville and 1-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 103 of the Arizona media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Mississippi State 75, Arizona 74, Dec. 30, 2000: Antonio Jackson’s driving jumper with 10 seconds remaining gave Mississippi State the one-point win and snapped Arizona’s 31-game Fiesta Bowl Classic win streak. The Bulldogs’ 40-30 rebound advantage proved to be the difference in a game that saw seven ties and nine lead changes in the second half. Jackson, who scored a game-high 22 points, earned tournament MVP honors for his efforts. Loren Woods led Arizona with 21 points, his second straight 20-point game. It is the only loss UA has suffered in 38 Fiesta Bowl Classic appearances.
Against the Southeastern Conference: All-time, Arizona is 12-21 (.364) against schools that currently make up the Southeastern Conference. Arizona has lost its last two games to SEC foes, and last defeated such an opponent on Nov. 9, 2001, a 75-71 win over Florida in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic.
In the Wooden Classic: As mentioned earlier, this marks Arizona’s third appearance in the John R. Wooden Classic. UA defeated Utah, 69-61, on Dec. 7, 1996, and Purdue, 79-66, on Dec. 8, 2001, in its previous appearances. Arizona also made one appearance in the Wooden Tradition, which is played in Indianapolis, and dropped a 72-69 decision to Purdue on Nov. 25, 2000.
Controlling the Boards: Bolstered by nice balance on the glass, Arizona posted a 42-29 rebound advantage against Wyoming. Seven of the 13 Wildcats to see action grabbed at least four boards in the effort, topped by Hassan Adams’ season-high eight. On the year, Arizona is 4-0 when outrebounding the opposition, and has been at +8 ore better in all four of those games.
Getting Offenisve: One of the keys to Arizona’s +5.5 rebound advantage on the season has been its dominance on the offensive glass. Through six games, the Wildcats are averaging 17.8 offensive rebounds per game, 6.5 more than the opposition. Certainly, a 40.4 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 all six games this season. On the season, three Arizona regulars have an equal number or more offensive than defensive rebounds (Adams, McClellan, Radenovic).
More Like It: After amassing 181 points in the last three games, Arizona almost reached triple figures in Tuesday’s win over Wyoming. The 98 points scored was a season high, as was the 45 first-half and 53 second-half offensive outputs. Prior to Tuesday, UA had gone eight games (dating back to last season) between 90-point scoring efforts, its longest such stretch since an eight-game streak in 2002-03.
All or Nothing: Through six games in 2004-05, winning feels like an all-or-nothing proposition for the Wildcats. Three of its four victories this season have come by at least 11 points. Even the losses are at opposite ends of the spectrum: an 18-point loss at Virginia and a three-point setback to Wake Forest.
Hitting the Mark: Could it be as simple as just hitting shots? Arizona scored 53 points in the second half of Tuesday’s game, which marked the most points scored by the Cats in any half this season (and 87 percent of the average output in the last three games). To do so, Arizona shot 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the floor in the second half, just the fourth time its done that in a half this season.
From the Point: In his 36-game career, Arizona is 19-4 when Mustafa Shakur passes out five or more assists in a game. So it would only figure that it’s a good thing that the 6-foot-3 point guard is averaging 6.3 assists per game on the season. Remarkably consistent, the Philadelphia native has passed out at least six assists in every game, but no more than seven.
Tis the Season for Charity: Arizona managed to take advantage of 24 Wyoming fouls and convert them into a season-high 29 free throw attempts. UA’s 23-10 scoring advantage from the line was its largest of the season and marked just the third time that UA had outscored the opposition from the charity stripe. The 23 FT attempts means that UA has now outscored its opponents from the line on the season (71-63), but the team still has one fewer attempt.
A Top-10 Guy: With four rebounds on Tuesday, senior Channing Frye moved into a tie for 10th place on the Arizona career rebounding list. He joins Tom Lee (1969-71) on the list with 737 career rebounds. For his career, the 6-foot-11 Frye is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game.
Assisting the Cause: With a starting backcourt that passed out 11 assists against Wyoming, Arizona passed out 20 or more assists for the third time this season. Mustafa Shakur (7) and Salim Stoudamire (4) did a nice job of moving the ball without turning it over, as each had only one turnover in a combined 52 minutes played.
Spreading the Wealth: Thirteen Arizona players saw action Tuesday and eight of them collected at least one steal as the Wildcats tallied a season-high 11 steals. As a team, Arizona averages 7.7 steals per game. Interestingly, 11 of the 13 players to see any action this season have collected at least one steal.
Stepping In: Over the last three games, freshman Jawann McClellan has definitely stepped up his productivity. In that span, the 6-foot-4 guard from Houston is averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the floor. His playing time has increased from an average of 11 minutes in the first three games to 20 minutes over the last three games.
Marked Improvement: While his scoring has remained consistent, sophomore Mustafa Shakur has shown considerable improvement in his all-around game. He’s averaging 5.5 rebounds per game, nearly two boards per game better than last season, while his assists (6.3 apg) and assist:turnover ratio (2.4) are also markedly improved. Shakur also leads the team with 10 steals, more than half of his total of 17 as a freshman.
Extended Minutes: Freshman Jesus Verdejo received his first extended amount of playing time with 12 minutes on Tuesday vs. Wyoming. The Carolina, Puerto Rico, product responded with eight points (4-of-6 FGs), a rebound, assist and a steal. In three appearances, Verdejo has connected on 6-of-12 field goals, making him one of only two players on the UA roster with a .500 field goal percentage (Fox).
Always on the Run: Arizona has made a name for itself with an ability to embark on some large scoring runs. Three times during the 2004-05 season UA has posted a scoring run of more than 15 points. Here is a look at the list:
19 points ?- 27-8 run over 8:10 vs. Wright State, Nov. 18
18 points ?- 20-2 run over 8:11 vs. San Diego, Nov. 16
16 points ?- 18-2 run over 5:00 vs. Wyoming, Nov. 30
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: After playing six games in 19 days, Arizona returns home for a bit of a break, getting a five-day respite before hosting Utah on Saturday, Dec. 11. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.