Jan. 30, 2009
Date: Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009
Time: 11 a.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: CBS (Craig Bolerjack/Bill Raftery)
GAME DATA: The first half of the Pac-10 schedule closes today as Arizona (13-8, 3-5 Pac-10) plays host to Washington State (12-8, 4-4 Pac-10) Saturday morning at McKale Center ... Today's game is the last of a four-game homestand, where the Wildcats have averaged 83.0 points per game in the previous three ... Look for 65 points to be a barometer of sorts, as Arizona is averaging 65.4 points per game during Pac-10 play and Washington State has allowed that many points to just two opponents this season ... Today's game is also the first of two regular season appearances for the Wildcats on CBS-TV.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Jan. 26 edition of both polls. UA was out of the polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign.
ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach with a career record of 13-8 (.619) ... He assumed the interim coaching responsibilities on Oct. 24 in the wake of Lute Olson's retirement a day earlier ... Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area ... He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season ... Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 ... While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 (.498) record that included one NCAA Tournament berth (2003) and three trips to the N.I.T. ... Prior to his tenure in Tempe, Ariz., Pennell served on Evans' staff at the University of Mississippi for six seasons (1992-98), where the Rebels went 86-81 (.515) and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998 ... In those two seasons, Mississippi won the Southeastern Conference West Division championship and won at least 20 games ... It was the first time the program had posted consecutive 20-win seasons in 60 years ... Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton ... During the 1990-91 campaign, the Cowboys shared the Big Eight Conference championship with a 24-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament ... The following year, OSU posted a 28-8 record, and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in both of Pennell's seasons in Stillwater ... Pennell, 47, earned a degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and received his master's in P.E. from PSU in 1990 ... He is assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona set McKale Center records for free throws (41) and free throw attempts (51) as the Cats outraced Washington, 106-97, Thursday. Four players finished in double figures as Arizona topped the century mark for this first time this season and posted its highest point total since March 2004. Arizona shot 63.6 percent from the field in the second half and built as much as a 16-point lead before the parade to the line began. Thirty-four of UA's 69 second-half points came at the stripe, where Nic Wise went 14-of-14, en route to a career-high 29 points and eight assists.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars enter today's contest with a 12-8 record (4-4 Pac-10) following Thursday's 65-55 win at Arizona State. On the season, Washington State shoots 42.6 percent (424-of-996) from the field, including 34.2 percent (110-of-322) from three-point range, outrebounds the opposition by a +4.3 per game margin, and outscores opponents by 6.3 points per game. Three Cougars average in double figures, led by Aron Baynes' 12.4 ppg clip. He also leads the team with a 7.2 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 64th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 50-13 series advantage. Arizona has won 43 of the last 46 meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1959, including the last one, 65-55 on Feb. 23, 2008, in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 24-7 in series games played in Tucson, 21-6 in Pullman, Wash., and 5-0 in neutral-site games. See page 96 of the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 65, Washington State 55, Feb. 23, 2008: The Wildcats put forth a solid effort on both ends of the court to earn a much-needed win. UA limited WSU to season-low totals of 17 field goals and a 34.0 field goal percentage, while shooting 50 percent at its own basket and placing three players in double figures. Chase Budinger, who hit his first five shots from the floor, knocked down two key treys in the second half to keep the Wildcats in the lead, and Jerryd Bayless scored all 20 of his points in the second half.
STRAIGHT SHOOTING: Over the last two games, Arizona has improved its marksmanship from long range, as the team is shooting a combined 20-of-45 (.444) from three-point range in that span. Those numbers are significantly better than the squad's .375 season percentage (113-of-301) or it's 5.4 treys per game average. Over those last two games, Nic Wise is a combined 8-of-14 (.571) from behind the arc.
THE CENTURY MARK: Arizona topped the 100-point plateau Thursday for the first time since Nov. 19, 2006, in a 102-87 win over New Mexico State - a span of 84 games. Additionally, the 106 points tallied was the most for the program since March 7, 2004, in a 106-81 win over Arizona State - a span of 159 games. It's no surprise that the century mark is an indicator of success is 96-4 (.960) when it scores 100 or more points. Interestingly, of those 100 occasions that Arizona has scored 100 or more points, only nine times has the program allowed more than the 97 points allowed to Washington Thursday, and the Wildcats are 5-4 in those games.
QUITE A HALF: Carried by Nic Wise, who scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the second half, Arizona exploded for a season-high 69 points in the second period Thursday vs. Washington. Not only was that a high for any UA half this season, but that tally topped UA's point total in nine games this season, and that doesn't include three contests in which the Cats scored exactly 69 points. Additionally, the 69 points equaled a school record for points in a half, originally set Feb. 23, 1974, during the second half of a 122-92 win over Utah.
PILING UP POINTS: The Wildcats have enjoyed a cornucopia of points recently, as the club has totaled 202 points in the last two games. It's the most points for the program in back-to-back games since Nov. 15-19, 2006, when Arizona posted 203 points in consecutive victories over Northern Arizona (101-79) and New Mexico State (102-87). The increased offensive output has been a pleasant surprise, as the Cats were averaging just 68.4 points per game heading into last Saturday's game. This season, Arizona is 8-1 when scoring 70 or more points.
ACCEPTING CHARITY: It's been eight years since anyone has seen a parade to the free throw line like those in attendance witnessed Thursday, as Arizona capitalized on 34 Washington personal fouls (25 in the second half, a McKale Center record) to convert 41-of-51 (.804) free throw attempts, including 34-of-40 (.850) in the second half alone. Guards Nic Wise and Kyle Fogg were a combined 21-of-21 in the effort. Incidentally, UA's 41-of-51 from the stripe was not a school record, it was just the most made and attempted since March 25, 2001, when Arizona set NCAA Tournament record for FTs made (43) and attempted (56) in its 87-81 win over Illinois in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final in San Antonio, Texas.
TELLING STATISTICS: Free throws have proven to be a key statistic for the Wildcats this season, as the team has made nearly as many free throws (316) as the opponent has attempted (321). Further, Arizona's ability to get to the line may be its leading indicator of success. In Arizona's 13 wins, the Cats are averaging 18.2 makes and 24.5 attempts per game, while outscoring opponents by 8.5 points per game from the line. In the team's eight losses, UA averages 10.0 makes and 14.4 attempts, but is outscored by an average of 2.1 points per game.
BREAKFAST ANYONE?: Today's late-morning tip-off is nothing new for the Wildcats. In fact, it's a pretty regular occurrence, especially with CBS scheduled to broadcast the game to most of the western half of the United States. Over the last eight years, UA has played 13 times at 11 a.m. locally and in those games the Cats are 8-5 (.615).
JUST WARMING UP: In each of the last two games, junior guard Nic Wise has set new career highs with 23 points vs. Houston and 29 points against Washington. What's been remarkable are his numbers in the second half. In those two wins, the 5-foot-10 native of Houston, Texas, is shooting 10-of-17 (.588) from the field, including 6-of-8 (.750) from behind the arc, and 14-of-15 (.933) from the line in the second half alone. Wise has tallied 20 points in each of those last two second stanzas.
ON THE MARK: Arizona finished Thursday's win with a .519 (28-of-54) field goal percentage, marking the eighth time this season that the club has shot 50 percent or better from the floor. By outshooting the Huskies, .519-.457, the Wildcats improved to 11-4 this year when outshooting the opposition, including its first win of the season when accomplishing that against a Pac-10 opponent.
POSITIVITY: Arizona passed out 19 assists Thursday against 16 turnovers, giving the Cats a positive assist:turnover ratio for just the fifth time in the last 10 games. A positive ratio has been good for UA, as it is 8-4 this year when that happens. Chase Budinger led the way Thursday with four assists and zero miscues in 39 minutes.
CHASING POINTS: Junior Chase Budinger collected 25 points in Thursday's win, marking the ninth time in his career that he has scored 25 or more points. The 6-foot-7 forward knocked down seven field goals against UW to move his career total to 503. Additionally, Budinger enters Saturday's tilt just four boards shy of 500 for his career, In 86 games played, Budinger averages 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
PRACTICALLY PERFECT: Freshman Kyle Fogg continues to be one of Arizona's most consistent contributors, as he established a new career high with 16 points in Thursday's win. The 6-foot-2 native of Brea, Calif., was nearly perfect against the Huskies, as he knocked down all four field goal attempts and all seven free throws to go with three boards, three assists and two steals. The only room for improvement in that stat line was two turnovers in 31 minutes of action. On the year, Fogg is averaging 5.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
IN THE MIDDLE: Junior Jordan Hill was one rebound shy of his 14th double-double of the season Thursday, finishing with 18 points (7-of-9 FG) and nine boards. The 6-foot-10 forward played just 26 minutes before fouling out, which was the third-fewest minutes he's logged this season and the fewest since November. It also marked just the second time this season that Hill didn't register at least one blocked shot.
IN CONTROL: In addition to his career-high 29 points, Nic Wise proved his worth by nearly completely controlling the action Thursday. With the ball in his hands, Wise passed out eight assists, his highest single-game total since Dec. 23 vs. Kansas (8). When Wise passes out five or more assists this season, Arizona is 8-3.
ONE MORE RECORD: If you've gotten this far in the notes, you've already read about a number of school or McKale Center records that were set or equaled on Thursday. Well, here is one more. Nic Wise's 14-of-14 effort from the free throw line tied the Arizona single-game record for free throw percentage (min. 12 attempts), equaled five times previously. However, Jerryd Bayless tops that list with a 16-of-16 effort on Feb. 16, 2008, vs. Stanford.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored a season-high 106 points Thursday against Washington, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fifth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 175-19 (.902) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 5-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
UP NEXT: After a two-week homestand, Arizona returns to the road for a pair of games next week. The first is at Oregon State on Thursday, Feb. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PST and can be seen on FS Arizona.