Jan. 13, 2003
Date: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 Time: 7:30 p.m. PST Location: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (16,161), Los Angeles, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: Second-ranked Arizona (11-1, 4-0 Pac-10) looks to stay unbeaten in conference play Thursday at USC (6-5, 2-1 Pac-10) ... The Cats enter the Southern California road swing riding a season-high six-game winning streak ... Over the last 10 years, Arizona is 9-11 (.450) on this particular conference road trip with four of those loses coming to the Trojans ... In conference play, UA is holding the opposition to just 66.8 points per game ... It's Arizona's fifth national television appearance of the season.
The Rankings: Arizona rose to No. 2 in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Cats check in at the two spot after spending the first six weeks of the season as the nation's top-ranked club. UA has been ranked in 260 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 674-236 (.741) and 482-144 (.770) 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 third most Pac-10 wins (266) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75), Oregon State's Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) and is tied with 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 288-29 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 216 of its last 230 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 32-10 against USC, including an 11-8 mark at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena.
Last Time Out: Arizona used a 9-0 run midway through the first half Saturday to break away from a pesky Washington club that forced five ties through the game's first 10 minutes and win 79-61. Salim Stoudamire scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the first half to lead the Cats as it slowly built as much as a 21-point lead. Jason Gardner added 11 points and a season-high nine assists, while Andre Iguodala added four points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Scouting USC: The Trojans (6-5, 2-1 Pac-10) head back in to Pac-10 play Thursday after Saturday's 99-61 non-conference home loss to Pennsylvania. As a team USC shoots 42.1 percent from the floor, 37.4 percent from three-point range, while outrebounding the opposition by 2.2 boards per game and averagng 77.0 points per game, but each of those figures improves in conference play. Individually, three Trojans average in double figures, led by Desmon Farmer's 16.5 ppg average. That figure jumps to 25.3 ppg in conference play.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 79th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 46-32 series advantage. Arizona has won seven of the last nine games in the series, which dates back to 1922, including an 81-71 win on March 9, 2002, in the last meeting. All-time, Arizona is 23-8 in series games played in Tucson, 21-24 in Los Angeles and 2-0 in neutral-site games. See page 125 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 81, USC 71, March 9, 2002: Led by the shooting of Salim Stoudamire and the all-around play of Luke Walton, Arizona rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to claim its fourth consecutive Pac-10 Tournament title. Stoudamire scored a career-high 29 points on 9-of-10 shooting, while Walton chipped in with 23 points, eight assists and four rebounds in the winning effort. UA opened the second half on a 19-4 run and shot 57.7 percent in the second half, while limiting the Trojans to to just 38.2 shooting after the break. Walton was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the all-Tournament team by Stoudamire and Jason Gardner.
In the Groove: Salim Stoudamire found his shooting touch last week and led Arizona to its second consecutive weekend conference sweep. The sophomore shot 52.6 percent from the field (10-of-19), including 46.7 percent from three-point range, to average 18.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He opened the week with a 14-point, two-rebound performance Thursday against Washington State in which he connected on 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc. Stoudamire followed that with a season-high 23 points to go with two boards and three steals in the 18-point win Saturday against Washington courtesy of 6-of-11 FG shooting. Stoudamire, who is shooting 93.5 percent from the free throw line (29-of-31) hit all 10 attempts this week. The effort raised his season scoring average to 11.1 points per game.
Select Company: A win Thursday would give Arizona head coach Lute Olson his 267th career Pac-10 victory. That would move him into sole possession of third place on the league's all-time wins list, passing legendary University of Washington head coach Hec Edmundson, who won 266 games from 1921-47. Only UCLA's John Wooden (304) and Oregon State's Slats Gill (276) currently rank ahead of Edmundson and Olson when it comes to Pac-10 wins. In 19-plus seasons in the league, Olson has a 266-76 (.778) Pac-10 record.
Triskaidekaphobia: Heading into a road trip that hasn't always been kind to Wildcats, the fact that its the 13th game of the season may put some superstitious folks on edge. Over the past 13 years (dating back to the 1987-88 season), Arizona is 8-5 in the 13th game of the season, including a 4-4 mark on the road.
He Likes It Here: There must be something about the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena that suits Jason Gardner. In his three career appearances in the building, Gardner is averaging 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He's also connected on 57.9 percent of his field goal attempts (22-of-38), including 73.1 percent (19-of-26) from behind the arc.
Weekend Work: The Wildcats earned its second straight weekend conference sweep to move to 4-0 in Pac-10 play. It is the fifth time that Arizona has started league play 4-0 under Lute Olson and the first time since 1999-2000. In each of the previous four occasions (1988, 1993, 1998, 2000), the Cats went on to win the Pac-10 title. Each UA team to start Pac-10 play 4-0 has gone on to win at least 15 league games.
Finishing Strong: Rebounding has been a key to the Wildcats' 4-0 Pac-10 start, as the team is outrebounding league opponents by a +13.5 margin. That figure is 4.4 rebounds more than UA's +9.1 season average. No league opponent has collected more than 35 rebounds against Arizona this season.
Clamping Down: Arizona also held Washington State and Washington to a combined 39.3 field goal percentage (48-of-122) this week and an average of 65.0 points. Through 12 games this season, Arizona has held four opponents to less than 40 percent shooting and eight opponents to less than 70 points.
Masters of Theft: UA also posted double-figure steal totals in both games this week, including 14 in Saturday's win over Washington. The interesting thing for the Wildcats is that the totals are almost evenly balanced. Of the 10 players to see action this week, nine collected at least one pilfer, and five players had three or more. Jason Gardner, Salim Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala and Chris Rodgers shared team-high honors with four each.
Stepping Up: Jason Gardner posted another solid week, averaging 15.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists against the Washington Schools. Included in the effort was a UA season-best nine assists in Saturday's win at Washington despite playing in a season-low 26 minutes. His 15 assists in consecutive games marks his best back-to-back assist performance since Feb. 17-19, 2000, when he collected 17 in wins over USC (7) and UCLA (11). Over his last three games, Gardner is averaging 7.3 assists.
No. 4 Returns: Forward Luke Walton returned to action last week after missing 10 days with a right ankle sprain and averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the two games. He shot 44 percent from the floor (7-of-16) and collected three steals.
In the Middle: Something clicked last week for sophomore Channing Frye, as the center averaged 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in UA's two wins. The Phoenix, Ariz., native shot 61.5 percent from the floor (8-of-13) and added eight blocks and a steal. Fyre's blocked shot total included a career-best-equaling five Thursday night against Washington State.
In Reserve: Forward Dennis Latimore continues to put forth a yeoman's effort this season. Not only did he earn his first career start Thursday against Washington State, but he notched six points and six rebounds in 16 minutes Saturday against Washington. The sophomore is averaging 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game through 12 games and those figures improve to 5.5 points and 6.5 rebound in conference play. He is also one of four UA players to be shooting better than 50 percent (.526) from the floor this season.
All-Around: His numbers don't always jump off the page, but freshman Andre Iguodala put forth one of his best efforts in Saturday's win vs. Washington. The 6-foot-6 freshman from Springfield, Ill., tallied four points, four boards, a career-high five assists and three steals against the Huskies. Always in the middle of things, Iguodala ranks second on the club with 19 steals, third with 25 assists and second with 66 rebounds.
Not Settled Yet: In what might be approaching a school record, Arizona has used 11 different starting lineups in 12 games this season, and nearly every one has been successful. Injuries have kept UA project starting lineup off the floor, but Coach Olson indicated late last week that a lineup featuring Luke Walton, Rick Anderson, Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire and Jason Gardner should become the norm. Gardner is the only Wildcat to start every game this season.
Long Range Defense: One of the reasons that Arizona is 11-0 this season when outshooting the opposition is that it has done a good job of defending the three-point line. On the season, UA opponents are hitting just 31.5 percent (76-of-241) of its attempts from behind the arc, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-10. Arizona held Washington to .273 from three-point range for the game, including .167 in the second half. On average, UA opponents attempt 20.1 treys per game and make 6.3.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 70-7 (.909) 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: Arizona returns home Wednesday, Jan. 22, to host intrastate rival Arizona State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports Net Arizona. Following that contest, the Cats step out of conference for a game at Kansas on Saturday, Jan. 25. That game is scheduled for a Noon CST tip and will be televised nationally by CBS-TV.