Game 11: No. 9 Arizona (9-1, 0-0) vs. California (8-3, 0-0)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006
Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: For the third time in the last seven seasons, No. 9 Arizona (9-1, 0-0 Pac-10) opens Pac-10 play in McKale Center Thursday against California (8-3, 0-0 Pac-10) ... Since joining the league in 1978-79, Arizona is 20-8 in conference openers, including a 16-6 mark under Lute Olson ... Since then, UA is 10-1 opening Pac-10 play at home, including 6-0 under Olson ... Over the last 23 seasons, Arizona has a Pac-10-best 183-24 (.884) mark in conference home games ... The Cats average 90.7 points per game in six home games this season.
The Rankings: Following a victory on Sunday, Arizona rose to No. 9 in both the (Dec. 18) Associated Press Top 25 poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Wildcats have been ranked in each poll to date this season.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 770-270 (.740) and 578-178 (.765) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 750th collegiate victory on Dec. 31, 2005, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (316) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.771/316-94) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 24-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 consecutive seasons, 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 seven times (1986, ?'88, ?'89, ?'93, ?'94, ?'98, 2003), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ?'81) and directed the UA program to the nation’s second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 339-35 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 267 of its last 286 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 39-11 against California.
Last Time Out: Trailing by five points at the half, Arizona responded with a 22-8 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to take control in the 79-71 win over Memphis Dec. 20 in the Chase Fiesta Bowl Classic. Mustafa Shakur equaled a career high with 23 points to go with six boards and five assists, while Chase Budinger tallied 15 of his 18 points in the final 20 minutes. Memphis shot 43.1 percent from the field for the game, including just 15.4 percent from three-point range in the second half.
Scouting California: The Golden Bears (8-3, 0-0 Pac-10) enter Pac-10 play having won seven of its last nine games (pending the Dec. 23 game at DePaul), including an 84-50 win over Furman on Dec. 19. As a team, Cal averages 73.5 points per game, shoots 46.9 percent (292-of-622) from the field and outrebounds the opposition by a +0.5 per game margin. Four Golden Bears average in double figures, led by Ryan Anderson’s 17.1 points per game figure. Anderson also leads the club with an 8.7 rebounds per game mark.
The Series: Tonight’s game marks the 73rd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 47-25 series advantage. Arizona has won 14 of the last 16 meetings, but Cal took the last, a 75-66 win in Berkeley on Feb. 16, 2006. All-time, Arizona is 24-8 in series games played in Tucson, 20-16 in Berkeley, Calif., and 3-1 in neutral site games. See page 99 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: California 75, Arizona 66, Feb. 16, 2006: California scored the first seven points of the game and never looked back. The Golden Bears’ Leon Powe was responsible for the first five points in the run and finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Behind Powe, who was 10-of-14 from the field and the line, Cal connected on 26-of-34 free throws and held a 26-14 scoring advantage from the stripe. Marcus Williams (21) and Ivan Radenovic (14) combined for 35 of Arizona’s 66 points.
It Starts With ?'Staf: In leading Arizona to its ninth consecutive win, Mustafa Shakur equaled a career high with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 79-71 win over 18th-ranked Memphis. Shakur hit 8-of-12 shots from the field (.667) and 5-of-6 free throws in leading the Wildcats in scoring for the second straight games. Shakur’s five assists on Wednesday marked the 10th time in 10 games this season that he’s passed out five or more assists in a game. During his career, Arizona is 50-11 (.820) when Shakur collects five or more assists in a game. On the season, Shakur is averaging 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and a Pac-10-leading 7.4 assists per game. He earned Chase Fiesta Bowl Classic Most-Valuable-Player honors for his effort vs. Memphis.
Streaking: UA’s current nine-game win streak eclipses the longest streaks of the last three seasons. The last Arizona team to win 10 straight games was the 2002-03 club that posted two 10-games during that season. Incidentally, all of the wins in this year’s streak have been by seven points or more, and during the streak Arizona has outscored the opposition by an average of 17.0 points per game.
Falling Behind: It isn’t often that Arizona has fallen behind in the first half as it did Dec. 20 vs. Memphis. On the season, the Wildcats outscore the opposition by an average of 9.6 points per game in the first half (42.8-33.2 ppg). The Memphis game marked just the second time this year (Illinois, 41-36) that the Cats have trailed at the break. Interestingly, Arizona has come back to win both of those games.
Not Even Close: Since blowing a 19-point lead in the season-opener at Virginia on Nov. 12 and losing 93-90, Arizona has been good at not playing close games. Since that initial defeat, the Wildcats are 9-0 in games decided by six or more points.
Charitable Contributions: Look no further than the free throw line for an indication of success, as the Wildcats have made 81 more free throws than opponents have attempted this season. But here is something a little more interesting. Over the last eight games, UA has outscored the opposition by a 151-35 margin from the stripe ?- or an average of 18.9-4.3 points per game. In that span, opponents have attempted at least 10 free throws only twice, while Arizona has attempted 20 or more charity tosses six times. In case you were wondering, here is the team foul tally in those eight games: Opponents 167, Arizona 87.
Controlling the Boards: Facing a Memphis Tiger team that had outrebounded eight of 10 opponents and carried a +5.7 rebound margin into the Dec. 20 contest, UA used a balanced attack on the glass to outrebound Memphis, 37-35. Four Wildcats grabbed six rebounds apiece to help supply the difference. Arizona collected a 17-13 advantage on the glass in the second half to improve to 7-0 this season when outrebounding the opposition.
A Long Time Coming: The Arizona win over No. 18 Memphis came in the squad’s first contest against a nationally ranked opponent this year.
Halftime Adjustments: One could say that Arizona was fortunate to only trail by five at halftime vs. Memphis, as the Cats mustered 33 points and a 38.2 field goal percentage (13-of-34) in the first half which were both season lows. The halftime adjustments must have been good ones, as Arizona shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the floor in the second stanza and outscored Memphis, 46-33.
Extending the Defense: Arizona’s field goal defense continues to improve, as the club is allowing opponents to shoot at a .403 clip (270-of-662) through 10 games. In that span, four teams have failed to reach the 40 percent plateau. Additionally, Arizona’s defense of the three-point line has improved as well. Over the last seven games, no UA opponent has shot better than 33.3 percent from behind the arc, and in that span opponents are shooting a cumulative 29.5 percent (61-of-207) from long range. In the second half of the Dec. 20 win over Memphis, the Tigers connected on just 2-of-15 (.154) three-point attempts.
Shot Selection: Arizona made only 3-of-11 (.273) three-point attempts (both season-low numbers) in the win over Memphis. What’s been good is that UA has not displayed a reliance on the three-point shot. Over the last two games, Arizona is shooting 51-of-94 (.543) from inside the arc and 32 of those 51 field goals have been either dunks or lay-ups.
A Late Push: Forward Chase Budinger saved his best for last against Memphis, as he tallied 15 of his 18 points in the second half. The 6-foot-7 freshman from Encinitas, Calif., ignited Arizona’s 22-8 run to start the period with a trey and scored seven points during the spurt. He finished 7-of-7 from the line, grabbed six boards and added two steals in a season-best 37 minutes played.
Limited Action: Despite seeing a season-low 22 minutes against Memphis due to foul trouble and a pair of wrist injuries, sophomore Marcus Williams managed to put together a solid all-around performance. The forward from Seattle posted seven points, six rebounds, a season-high three assists and a blocked shot. Through 10 games, Williams leads the Cats with 10 blocked shots and a 7.5 rebounds per game average.
Nice and Efficient: Senior Ivan Radenovic continues to compile numbers with team-leading efficiency. The 6-foot-10 forward connected on 6-of-9 field goals and 6-of-6 free throws en route to 18 points against Memphis. Radenovic leads UA in both field goal percentage (.582/57-of-98) and free throw percentage (.869/53-of-61), while also posting a positive assist:turnover ratio (19:16).
In Reserve: In the last two games, the Arizona bench has amassed 19 points and 19 rebounds in 83 total minutes. That might not raise eyebrows, but it is significant for a team whose starting five is averaging nearly 32 minutes per game and has accounted for 88.9 percent of the scoring and 75.1 percent of the rebounds to date. Only two Wildcat reserves (Daniel Dillon and Nic Wise) are averaging more than 10 minutes per game, an those two combine to score 5.3 points per game.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 156-19 (.891) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 6-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points, a feat that has happened in seven of nine games this year.
Always On the Run: Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity. Here are the ones of note to date:
25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)
34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)
28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)
20-2 run over 5:59 vs. Louisville, Dec. 5 (UL went 1-of-10; UA 7-of-8 during the run)
21-4 run over 8:08 vs. Illinois, Dec. 2, 2006 (UA 8-of-12 FGs during run)
24-8 run over 9:17 at San Diego State, Dec. 9, 2006 (SDSU 4-of-18 FG with five TO during run)
18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)
23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: After tonight’s game, Arizona will host Stanford on Saturday, Dec. 30. The game will begin at Noon MST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net. It is the first of five regular season games that will begin before 1 p.m. local time.