Dec. 10, 2002
Date: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2002 Time: 2:30 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: Top-ranked Arizona (4-0, 0-0 Pac-10) returns home for a key intersectional match-up against No. 8 Texas (5-1, 0-0 Big 12) ... Both teams enter the contest with top-10 rankings and have been nationally-ranked in each of the last three meetings ... Depth shouldn't be a problem for either club, as both sport lineups with at least nine players logging double-figure minutes ... Arizona is 58-64 (.475) all-time against Big 12 Conference members, but is 5-2 in its last seven meetings.
The Rankings: For the fifth straight week, Arizona occupies the top spot in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. UA has been ranked in 257 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only. It is the 40th polling period (21 media/19 coaches) in which Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in either national poll.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 667-235 (.739) and 475-143 (.769) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (262) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75), Oregon State's Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) and Washington's Hec Edmundson (266, 1921-47) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74) ... During his 20-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 nine Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, 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 six times (1986, '88, '89, '93, '94, '98), 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 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 283-29 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 211 of its last 225 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 6-0 against Texas.
Last Time Out: Will Bynum and Rick Anderson combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds to lead Arizona to an 89-81 win Dec. 7 at San Diego State in the team's first road game of the season. Playing before the first sellout crowd in Cox Arena history, Bynum scored 14 of his career-high 19 points in the first half to stake the Cats to a nine-point halftime lead. Anderson followed by scoring 13 of his season-high 17 points in the second half, as Arizona built as much as a 19 point lead. Only an SDSU bucket at the buzzer cut the UA lead to less than double figures in the final 20 minutes.
Scouting Texas: The eighth-ranked Longhorns enter today's game with a 5-1 mark after last Sunday's 98-92 loss to Notre Dame in the championship game of the BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C. Texas averages 84.0 points per game, shoots 46.1 percent from the floor and posts a +9.2 rebound margin, while limiting the opposition to just 70.3 points and a 40.6 FG percentage. UT holds the opposition to 70.3 points per game. Individually, three Longhorns average in double figures, led by sophomore guard T.J. Ford's 15.3 points and 8.3 assists per game averages.
The Series: Sunday's game marks the ninth meeting of the series with Arizona holding a 6-2 advantage. Texas won the first two games of the series, which dates back to Dec. 17, 1949, but UA has rebounded to win the last six, including an 88-74 win in Austin on Nov. 17, 2001. All-time, Arizona is 3-0 in series games played in Tucson, 3-0 in Austin and 0-2 in neutral-site meetings. For more series information, please see page 125 of the Arizona media guide.
Last Meeting: Arizona 88, Texas 74, Nov. 17, 2001: Salim Stoudamire scored all 19 of his points in the second half as the Wildcats erased a 12-point deficit in the come-from-behind victory over No. 23 Texas. UA trailed 51-39 with 18:28 remaining when Stoudamire and Jason Gardner sparked a 30-9 run over the next 10 minutes to take control of the contest. Arizona limited Texas to just .278 shooting and outrebounded the 'Horns, 29-20, in the second half. Gardner finished with a career-high 28 points and six assists, while Rick Anderson and Luke Walton combined for 15 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
Senior Leadership: Rick Anderson led Arizona to a pair of wins last week by averaging 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. The senior forward connected on 73.3 percent of his field goal attempts (11-of-15), 70.0 percent of his free throws (7-of-10) and nailed his only 3-point field goal attempt of the week, while averaging just 23 minutes per game. He grabbed a team-high 14 boards in the two wins to go with two assists, four blocked shots and two steals. Anderson opened the week with a 13-point, four-rebound effort vs. Saint Louis, in which he hit all three of his field goal attempts and 6-of-8 free throws to go with a assist, two blocks and no turnovers in 20 minutes. He was key in Arizona's first road win of the season by recording 17 points and 10 boards against San Diego State. Anderson hit 8-of-12 FG attempts in addition to a pair of blocks and steals. He has scored in double figures in all four games to date and is averaging 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on the season while shooting 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the floor.
Cooling Off: After starting out the season shooting 53.4 percent from the floor in its first two games, Arizona has cooled off considerably in its last two outings. In its two wins this week, UA hit just 45.9 percent (61-of-133) of its field goal attempts. One of the reasons the Cats were successful was due to the fact that it limited the opposition to just 40.1 percent shooting (55-of-137) for the week. Arizona has outshot all four opponents in 2002-03 and is 23-1 over the last two years when accomplishing the feat.
On an Upward Path: Sophomore Will Bynum posted a good week by averaging 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the Wildcats' two wins. The 5-foot-11 guard was especially good against San Diego State, as he poured career-high totals of 19 points and seven rebounds. He was 5-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from three-point range, and four of his rebounds were offensive. For good measure, he also matched a career high vs. SDSU with three steals. Bynum has set a new career high in points scored twice in Arizona's four games this season.
Room for Improvement: UA head coach Lute was not pleased with the team's rebounding effort last week. Arizona was outrebounded 41-40 by San Diego State, marking the first time this season an opponent has out-boarded the Cats. For the week, Arizona managed to post a tiny 84-82 advantage on the boards, but still has a +7.6 rebound margin for the season.
Doubling Up: Rick Anderson notched Arizona's first double-double of the season with a 17-point, 10-rebound effort at San Diego State. It was Anderson's seventh career double-double. Current UA players have amassed 26 career double-doubles, led by Luke Walton's 11.
Any Volunteers?: No UA player has yet proven to be the team leader on the glass. The Wildcats have had a different player lead the team in rebounding in all four games. Cumulatively, four UA players are averaging 5.0 rebounds per game or better (Channing Frye, 6.5; Andre Iguodala, 5.8; Rick Anderson, 5.5; Isaiah Fox, 5.0), but no Wildcat has a rebound average above 6.5 rpg. On the plus side, Arizona has had a double-figure rebounder in each of its last two games.
Forcing the Action: Arizona is still forcing turnovers at a nice rate. Through four games, UA opponents are averaging 22.0 turnovers per game, 7.5 more per game than the Wildcats. The Arizona press also continues to accomplish its goal of generating more possessions, which has helped the club average 97.0 points per game. In three of four games to date, Arizona's point total has been the highest allowed by that opponent this season.
Finding a Way: Senior Jason Gardner suffered through one of the worst shooting nights of his career at San Diego State (1-of-10 FG, 0-for-7 3-pt.), but still managed to impact the game in a positive fashion by collecting a season-high six assists. He also dropped in a UA season-best 7-of-8 free throws. Incidentally, Arizona is 44-8 (.846) during Gardner's career when he collects at least five assists in a game.
A First: Isaiah Fox tallied 10 points, five boards and an assist in Saturday's win at SDSU, which marked his second consecutive game in double figures. It was his fourth career double-figure scoring effort and marked the first time the sophomore center has don that in consecutive games. Fox was remarkably efficient in doing so, as he hit 9-of-11 (.818) field goal attempts in those two victories.
The Line is Fine: In its last two games, Arizona has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line. In the wins over Saint Louis and San Diego State, Arizona held a 43-19 scoring advantage from the free throw line. That 24-point margin makes up 59 percent of the scoring differential in those wins (41 points). On the season, Arizona has outscored its opponents, 72-30 from the line.
From the Floor: Arizona's 49.8 field goal percentage leads all Pac-10 team entering the week. Of the 10 players on the roster averaging at least 10 minutes per game, five are shooting 50 percent or better from the floor. Channing Frye (.696), Rick Anderson (.667) and Isaiah Fox (.650) have combined to connect on 49-of-73 (.671) field goal attempts.
Back in Action: Salim Stoudamire continues to work himself after missing the entire preseason with a high left ankle sprain. Since returning to the lineup on Dec. 3, the sophomore guard has hit just 25 percent of his field goal attempts (3-of-12), including 22.2 percent from three-point range (2-of-9).
Combinations: Prior to the start of the season, Coach Olson stated that it would take some time to find the best lineup combinations. The Wildcat mentor has used a different starting lineup in all four games this season. Only the team's three seniors (Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner, Luke Walton) have started all four games.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 65-7 (.903) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 16-4 last season when scoring at least 80 points.
Talent Pool: With the 2002-03 NBA season just underway, no fewer than 10 former Wildcats are on NBA active rosters. Only two schools in the country (North Carolina 14; Kentucky 11) have more of its alumni on active rosters. Here is the list of Arizona players currently playing in the NBA: Gilbert Arenas (G/Golden State/2nd year), Mike Bibby (G/Sacramento/5th year), Michael Dickerson (G/Memphis/5th year), Richard Jefferson (F/New Jersey/2nd year), Steve Kerr (G/San Antonio/15th year), Chris Mills (F/Golden State/10th year), Sean Rooks (C/Los Angeles Clippers/11th year), Damon Stoudamire (G/Portland/8th year), Jason Terry (G/Atlanta/4th year), and Loren Woods (C/Minnesota/2nd year).
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Ndudi Ebi (F, 6-8, 192) from Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian High School, Mustafa Shakur (G, 6-3, 175) from Wynnewood, Pa., Friends Central High School and Kirk Walters (C, 6-10, 210) from Grand Rapids, Mich., South Christian High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Arizona takes the next five days off for final exams before returning to action. The Cats travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Dec. 21, for a game against Louisiana State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.