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Cats Make Final Visit to Mac Court
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/09/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 9, 2010

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Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time: 7:00 p.m. (PT)

Location: McArthur Court, Eugene, Ore.

Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)

Tip Off Time: Arizona hits the road for three of the next four games, starting with a two-game road swing through the state of Oregon over the weekend. The Wildcats open up the trip with their final visit to famed McArthur Court against the Ducks on Thursday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Catch the Action: Entering his third season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.

Coaches Show: The Niya Butts Show will broadcast once again this Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer will host the show and ask questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. The show will most likely broadcast from the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Series Notes: Oregon holds a 28-22 all-time advantage in the series with Arizona dating back to the first-ever meeting on January 3, 1981. The Wildcats have won three of the past four meetings with the Ducks, including a record-breaking 119-112 win in McKale Center on January 16. However, the Wildcats have not won in Eugene since claiming a 70-66 win at McArthur Court on January 22, 2004. The Cats hold a 7-16 record in road games against the Ducks while posting marks of 14-11 at McKale Center and 1-1 in neutral site games.

Scouting the Ducks: The highest-scoring team in the NCAA has settled into the middle of the Pac-10 race with an even 5-5 mark. Oregon is under the tutelage of legendary offensive-minded head coach Paul Westhead, who is currently the only head coach to win both a NBA (Lakers) and WNBA (Mercury) championship as head coach. The Ducks boast five players who average in double figures, led by senior guard Taylor Lilley at 17.5 per game while also shooting 42.6 percent from three-point range with a league-leading 80 treys. Micaela Cocks is averaging 15.3 points per game while Amanda Johnson tallies 13.1 points and a team-leading 9.0 rebounds per contest.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.

Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).

Last Time Out: After yielding the opening basket of the game, Arizona scored the next 11 points and never looked back as they split the season series with Washington thanks to a 80-50 drubbing of the Huskies on Saturday afternoon at McKale Center. Junior forward Soana Lucet led all players with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Ify Ibekwe added 17 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals on 7-of-12 shooting. Brooke Jackson drained four 3-pointers to toss in 15 points to go along with 7 rebounds and Reiko Thomas tallied 13 points and 5 rebounds. Arizona dominated Washington on the glass to the tune of a 47-27 advantage. The Wildcats were a sizzling 14-of-23 (.609) from the field in the second half and shot 50.9 percent (28-of-55) for the game while limiting the Huskies to just 32.8 percent shooting (21-of-64). Laura McLellan had 18 points and 6 rebounds for Washington while Sami Whitcomb tossed in 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. The rest of the Huskies, however, combined for just 16 points and combined to shoot 7-of-35 (.200).

Last Time Out for Oregon: The final Civil War game to be played at famed McArthur Court sent the home fans on their way smiling as the Ducks downed rival Oregon State, 82-62. Oregon forced 29 turnvoers and used a 17-point halftime deficit to cruise to the victory and a sweep of the season series. Taylor Lilley scored 23 points while Micaela Cocks tossed in 18 points. Nia Jackson also tallied 14 points to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals. Oregon State was led by Haiden Palmer with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds while Talisa Rhea added 14 points and 8 rebounds. Kirsten Tilleman posted 10 points and a game-best 13 rebounds as the Beavers outrebounded the Ducks, 49-28, but shot just 37 percent for the game.

Statistical Comparison: Two of the top three scoring teams in the Pac-10 meet on Thursday evening as the Ducks lead both the Pac-10 and the NCAA in scoring at 85.2 points per game while the Cats are 3rd in the league at 68.8 per contest. While Oregon allows 75.8 to its opponents, Arizona is yielding 67.5 per game. Both teams shoot the ball well from the field and are among the league leaders in 3-point percentage. Arizona has a rebounding margin that is nearly two boards per game better than the Ducks, but Oregon is nearly 30 points better from both beyond the arc and at the charity stripe.

Moving Forward: Arizona got its month of February off to a solid start with a home sweep of the Washington schools. Last season, the Wildcats picked up three of their four conference wins in the month of February, including a 68-44 win over the Ducks in McKale Center on February 7.

Milennium Milestone: With a 17-foot jumper at the 2:20 mark of the first half last Saturday, junior forward Ify Ibekwe became the 16th player in Arizona history to record 1,000 career points. She took over 15th place on the Arizona all-time scoring list by the end of the game with 1,003 carer points, moving ahead of Melissa Handley, who finished her career with exactly 1,000 points. The last player to join the 1,000-point club was Ashley Whisonant, who reached that career milestone against Oregon State in the semfinal round of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament.

Selective Company: Ibekwe became the 9th active player in the Pac-10 this season to achieve 1,000 points for her career with her 17-point performance against Washington. Her achievement sets up a meeting of three of those players as Oregon seniors Taylor Lilley and Micaela Cocks both reached the 1,000-point mark this season. Lilley hit the milestone in the Ducks' Pac-10 opener on New Year's Day against Washington while Cocks did it four weeks later on January 28 against UCLA. Kayla Pedersen of Stanford, Sami Whitcomb of Washington, Danielle Orsillo of Arizona State and Talisa Rhea of Oregon State have all joined the club during the 2009-10 season.

Building Blocks: Measuring progress is a subjective task, but the Arizona coaching staff must feel like it is moving in the right direction after completing its second weekend sweep of the season on Saturday with the win over Washington. Arizona has already eclipsed its Pac-10 win total from a year ago, marking the first time the Wildcats have won more than four conference games since the 2004-05 campaign. That season also marked the last time the Wildcats swept more than one weekend set at home in McKale Center.

Changing of the Guard: After fielding the same starting lineup in 18-of-19 games to start the season, Arizona head coach Niya Butts changed things up in both games last weekend, inserting sophomore guard Reiko Thomas in place of fellow sophomore guard Brooke Jackson. Looking to both reward Thomas for excellent play of late as well as give Jackson a chance to energize the team as a reserve, the duo combined for 28 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals while hitting 9-of-12 field goal attempts against Washington. The only other time the Cats had a changed starting five was against UC Riverside on December 23rd when Amanda Pierson made her only start in the place of Ify Ibekwe.

Return of Reiko: After coming off the bench for the previous 27-straight games in her Arizona career, Reiko Thomas has made back-to-back starts for the first time since taking the floor for tip-off at UCLA on February 12 of last season. Thomas started the first 16 games of her career, then came off the bench for three games before making three-straight starts. Including her 13 points on Saturday evening, Thomas has averaged over 11 points per game when earning the start.

Board Work: After allowing 52 rebounds to league-leading Stanford on January 30, Arizona dominated the glass last weekend, pulling down 48 boards against Washington State and then 49 two days later against Washington. The 49 boards was the third-highest total of the season for the Wildcats and most since pulling down 47 in an overtime loss to USC on January 3. Arizona had been averaging just 30 rebounds per game over the last five contests and 35.1 boards per game in Pac-10 play.

Action Jackson: Sharp-shooting guard Brooke Jackson rediscovered her shooting form on Saturday after struggling from the field for over a month. Jackson had been mired in a 12-for-55 (.218) slump from three-point range after making 15-of-30 (.500) over the first seven games of her Arizona career. She made her first four attempts from beyond the arc last Saturday, including three in a 90-second span midway through the second half. Her season-high four connections were the most since she hit on a trio of treys against New Mexico back on December 9.

Block Party: Junior forward Amanda Pierson impressed with a season-high three blocked shots last Saturday against Washington. She also grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes of play as she tallied double-digit minutes for the third-straight game. She averaged 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds ove the weekend and has been rewarded with increased playing time with her improved production off of the bench.

Doing It With Defense: The Wildcats limited Washington to a 32.8 percent field goal percentage on Saturday afternoon, marking the 15th time in 21 contests Arizona has held its opponent under 40 percent shooting for a game. The Cats are 10-5 in those contests and started the season with six-straight games of holding the opposition under the .400 from the field.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a senior guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, was named the ESPN RISE girls basketball player of the week for the Southeast region after tallying a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 68-27 win over Evans. Rated the #20 point guard in the 2010 class by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Warthen also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark this season and is averaging 29.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.7 steals and 3.9 assists for the 20-4 Screaming Devils.

Conference Standouts: Arizona began the 2nd half of Pac-10 play with several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.8 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 93.3 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 3rd in the league in scoring at 17.5 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.6 per contest, 5th in 3-point field goal percentage at .396 and 10th in field goal percentage with a .473 tally. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.8 per outing, good for 10th place while Jackson is 9th in 3-point field goal percentage at .344 and tied for 10th with 1.5 treys per game. Ibekwe is also 4th in steals with 2.3 per game, 5th in blocked shots with a 1.5 average and 6th in field goal percentage at .498. As a team, the Wildcats are 3rd in scoring (68.8), field goal percentage (.438) and field goal percentage defense (.375), and 5th in free throw percentage (.675), 3-point field goals per game (5.3), 3-point percentage (.331) and 3-point defense percentage (.303).

National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in scoring (73rd, 68.8), field goal percentage (40th, .438), personal fouls per game (70th, 15.9) and field goal percentage defense (84th, .375). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 3rd in the nation in rebounding at 11.8 per contest, 6th in double-doubles with 14, 51st in field goal percentage at .498 and 91st in steals per game with 2.3. Davellyn Whyte is 36th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.6, 58th in scoring at 17.5 per game, 55th in 3-point field goal percentage at .396 as well as 80th in field goal percentage at .473.

Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.

Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.

Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently tied for second place in the Arizona record books with 36 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 14-of-21 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest single-season total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently tied with Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could match this season if she can post the double digits in every remaining regular season game plus two postseason contests.

Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte shot almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438) in wins over Iona and Miami (Ohio). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 17.5 points per game while shooting .396 from three-point range, .473 from the field and grabbing 3.9 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch since the start of Pac-10 play, averaging 20.2 points to go along with 3.4 rebounds while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from distance.

Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.

Rewriting History: The Wildcats lone freshman began flirting with history early on in her debut season before finally making it as she tallied a school-record 39 points against Oregon last month. She finished 12-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and connected on 10-of-12 free throws. She bested the previous single-game scoring record of 35 points held by three different players. At the time, it was the most points scored by a Pac-10 player in 2009-10 and is still the 2nd-highest total of the season.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 20 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance against Oregon, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte matched that mark after just 20 games this season. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting third overall in the league with 2.7 three-point shots made per contest. She was the first Pac-10 player this season with two games of 30-plus points and has scored in double figures in 17-of-21 outings.

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