Dec. 31, 2002
Date: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003 Time: 9 p.m. PST Location: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: KWBA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: Fourth-ranked Arizona (7-1, 0-0 Pac-10) opens Pacific-10 Conference play on the road Thursday against No. 9 Oregon (9-1, 0-0 Pac-10) ... The Wildcats look to snap a three-game losing streak at UO's McArthur Court ... Under Lute Olson, Arizona is 12-6 in conference openers, including a 6-6 record on the road ... UA is 2-0 against ranked teams this year ... This is the first time this season in which Arizona will have played three games in one week.
The Rankings: Arizona held firm at No. 4 in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Cats check in at the four spot after spending the first six weeks of the season as the nation's top-ranked club. UA has been ranked in 259 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
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 670-236 (.740) and 478-144 (.768) 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 286-29 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 214 of its last 228 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 28-11 against Oregon, including an 11-8 mark at McArthur Court.
Last Time Out: Luke Walton scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half as Arizona defeated Boston University, 85-71, Monday to win the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Walton's efforts helped Arizona extended a six-point halftime lead to as many 18 points in claiming the 14-point win. Freshman Hassan Adams, who earned tournament MVP honors, hit 7-of-9 shots and finished with a game-high 17 points and led four UA players in double figures. The Cats won the team title for the 17th time in 18 seasons.
Scouting Oregon: Since suffering its lone defeat of the season on Dec. 17, Oregon (9-1) has reeled off three consecutive wins by an average margin of 30.3 points. The Ducks are a spotless 7-0 at home this season and a win tonight would set a new school record for consecutive homecourt wins (24). One of the nation's top offenses, Oregon averages 91.3 points per game and has proven to be very unselfish with 191 assists on 319 field goals (59.8 percent). UO opponents are averaging just 72.3 points per game and shooting a collective 39.5 percent from the floor. Individually, four Ducks average in double figures, led by junior guard Luke Ridnour's 19.1 ppg mark.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 50th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 31-18 series advantage. Oregon has won four of the last five in the series, including a 90-80 win in McKale Center on Jan. 4, 2002, in the last meeting. The series dates back to Jan. 12, 1979. All-time, Arizona is 19-5 in series games played in Tucson, 12-12 in Eugene and 0-1 in neutral-site games. See page 124 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Oregon 90, Arizona 80, Jan. 4, 2002: As was the case 13 days earlier in Eugene, Oregon used hot shooting from the perimeter to jump out to an early lead and eased to a 10-point win. The Ducks shot 50 percent from the field in the opening half, including 5-of-8 from three-point range, and led 49-38 at the half. Arizona could only manage to get as close as eight points in the second half. The Cats, playing for the second straight game without Luke Walton, were outrebounded 39-34 in the contest. Jason Gardner led the squad with 22 points.
The Magnificent Six: It's hard to believe, but the Pac-10 opener featuring the league's two nationally-ranked teams will be seen tonight in six very fortunate communities. The game will be carried over-the-air by two Arizona stations, KWBA in Tucson and KAZ in Phoenix, and four Oregon stations, KEZI in Eugene; KWBP in Portland; KDRV in Medford; and KDFK in Klamath Falls.
Most Valuable: Hassan Adams became the first freshman in the 18-year history of the Fiesta Bowl Classic to earn Most Valuable Player honors. The freshman from Los Angeles averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds to go with three assists and three steals. He connected on 61.5 percent of his field goal attempts (16-of-26) in wins over Davidson and Boston University, and improved his team-leading scoring average to 14.4 points in the process.
By the Slimmest of Margins: It wasn't by much, but Arizona did manage to outshoot Boston University in Monday's victory, .477-.462. The margin turned out to be one field goal, as UA connected on 31-of-65 attempts to BU's 30-of-65. How important is it for Arizona to outshoot the opposition? UA is 7-0 this season when accomplishing the feat and 74-3 (.961) since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
Forcing Turnovers: The Wildcats continue to do a good job of creating turnovers. Through the first eight games, Arizona is forcing an average of 19.75 turnovers per game, 5.75 more than it commits. To date, Arizona has posted a positive turnover margin in every game this season.
Balanced Attack: Four UA players grabbed at least six rebounds in Monday's win to lead the Wildcats to a 42-34 rebounding advantage. It's kind of been rebound by committee for Arizona as four players are averaging more than five rebounds per game, led by Channing Frye's 6.3 boards per game average. Incidentally, UA has outboarded six of eight opponents this season and is undefeated when positively controlling the glass.
Record Setter: The 14,587 in attendance for the championship of the Fiesta Bowl Classic Honoring Bobbi Olson Monday set a single-session attendance record, eclipsing the previous mark of 14,585 set Saturday during the first day of the tourney. The two-session total of 29,172 topped the previous record of 29,130 set in 2000.
Good Ball Movement: In addition to equaling a season low with nine turnovers against Boston University, Arizona did a nice job of finding the open man, as the club collected 21 assists. It marked just the second time this season that Arizona has collected more than 20 assists in a game (26 vs. Western Kentucky). Twenty-one of the Wildcats' 31 field goals (67.7 percent) were scored courtesy of an assist.
Second Half Surge: Arizona picked up a win Monday, based in large part by an improved second-half shooting effort against the Terriers. After shooting just 43.2 percent in the first half, Arizona rebounded to shoot 53.6 percent in the second (15-of-28), including 5-of-8 (.625) from three-point range.
Among the Elite: By collecting a game-high six assists Monday, Jason Gardner became just the fifth player in Arizona history to collect 500 or more assists (502). He's collected five or more assists five times in 2002-03. The senior guard is also one three-point field goal shy of equaling the UA career record for treys made. Gardner enters Thursday's game with 271 career treys, one behind Damon Stoudamire's career total of 272.
On the Glass: Sophomore forward Dennis Latimore certainly made the most of his minutes recently, as he has grabbed 15 rebounds in the last two games. That more than doubled his season output (now 29/3.6 rpg). Incidentally, the 15 boards came in a total of 33 minutes played.
Year of the Fox: Sophomore center Isaiah Fox has proven to be very effective this season with averages of 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds. Additionally, Fox leads the team with a 64.7 field goal percentage and has posted four of his five steals in the last two games. He's grabbed at least five rebounds in six of eight games this season.
Hitting the Mark: Perhaps Salim Stoudamire's shooting eye has returned just in time for conference play. In the two Fiesta Bowl Classic games, Stoudamire connected on 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) of his field goal attempts, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. Prior to last weekend, Stoudamire was shooting just 27.6 percent from the field. The last two games have boosted his FG percentage to 39.1 percent on the year. The Portland, Ore., native also equaled a career high with four assists Monday.
A Setback: After sitting out two weeks with a sprained right ankle, Luke Walton looked as if he was quickly returning to form in two Fiesta Bowl Classic appearances. He averaged 11 points, seven boards and two assists in the two games to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Monday's 16-point, seven-rebound performance was arguably his best of the season before that was cut short by yet another sprain of his right ankle. Walton's 16 points were a season high and his seven rebounds tied a season best.
Three-Point FG Defense: Arizona has done a good job of contesting the opposition's three-point attempts. On the season, UA opponents are hitting just 29.4 percent (48-of-163) of its attempts from behind the arc. Arizona managed to hold BU to just .182 from three-point range (2-of-11) in the first half en route to a 29.2 percent game effort. No UA opponent has shot better than 35 percent from three-point range this season.
3-Point Offense: Bolstered by a strong second half, UA shot 40.9 percent from three-point range Monday, marking the third time the squad has topped the 40-percent plateau this year. Arizona hit 5-of-8 attempts from behind the arc in the final stanza vs. Boston University with Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire combining to go 4-of-4.
Toeing the Line: Despite connecting on just 14-of-24 free throw attempts against BU, Arizona did manage to make more free throws (14) than the Terriers attempted (9). That continues a season-long trend in which Arizona has made 142 free throws compared with the opposition's 132 attempts. All told, Arizona has a +67 scoring margin from the free throw line in 2002-03.
That's A First: When Luke Walton, Channing Frye, Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire and Jason Gardner took to the court Monday, it marked the first time that Arizona has used the same starting lineup in back-to-back games. The Cats have used seven different lineups in eight games to date.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 67-7 (.905) 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.
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: The Oregon road swing concludes on Saturday, Jan. 4, as the Cats take on Oregon State in Corvallis. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. PST and will be televised by Fox Sports Net Arizona.