Dec. 23, 2002
Date: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002 Time: approx. 4 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 4 Arizona (5-1, 0-0 Pac-10) opens play in the 18th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic honoring Bobbi Olson, presented by Bank One and Tucson Electric Power Friday against Davidson (6-1, 0-0 SC) ... Arizona is 33-1 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play with the lone defeat coming in the 2000 championship game, a 75-74 loss to Mississippi State ... All-time, Arizona is 2-1 against current Southern Conference members.
The Rankings: For the first time this season, Arizona fell from the top spot in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Wildcats currently are ranked fourth in both major college basketball polls. UA has been ranked in 258 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 668-236 (.739) and 476-144 (.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 284-29 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 212 of its last 226 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 0-0 against Davidson and is 33-0 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play.
Last Time Out: Arizona managed to erase most of a 15-point second half deficit, but couldn't covert on its final possession in a 66-65 loss Dec. 21 at Louisiana State. The final deficit belied a game in which LSU controlled tempo throughout, limiting Arizona to a season-low 32.9 field goal percentage and at one point holding a 30-18 rebound advantage. Prior to its late-game efforts, Arizona missed its first 13 shots of the second half and saw LSU outscore it 27-11 over a 15:17 stretch dating back to the first half. Jason Gardner led UA with 16 points, while Andre Iguodala added 11 boards.
Scouting Davidson: The Wildcats enter play Saturday riding a six-game win streak after last week's 125-44 win over Washington & Jefferson. It will be the first road game in 31 days for Davidson, who is outscoring the opposition by an average of 31.1 points per game. Davidson shoots 51.0 percent (221-of-433) from the field, 50.3 percent from three-point range (84-of-167), and 81.5 percent (119-of-146) from the line in averaging 92.1 points per game. The Wildcats limit opponents to 35.7 percent shooting and just 61.0 points per game. Individually, four players average in double figures, led by Wayne Bernard's 15.3 ppg average.
The Series: It is the first meeting of the two schools. It marks the six time in Fiesta Bowl Classic history that a team from North Carolina has made an appearance. That number trails only Pennsylvania (8) in filling up the Classic field.
Catfight: It's been more than three years since Arizona faced off against a team with the same nickname. The last time UA's Wildcats met another member of the wildcat family came Nov. 26, 1999, in a 63-51 win over Kentucky in the championship game of the 1999 Preseason N.I.T. The last time such a meeting happened in McKale Center came 10 days prior when UA defeated Kansas State, 88-69, on Nov. 16 in the first round of the 1999 Preseason N.I.T.
Solid Effort: Channing Frye tallied 11 points, five rebounds and a steal in Arizona's 66-65 loss Saturday at Louisiana State. The sophomore center scored nine of his 11 points and grabbed all five of his rebounds in the second half as he led Arizona's come-from-behind efforts. All nine of his second-half points came in the final 8:25 as the Wildcats erased most of a 15-point deficit.
Streak Stopped: Saturday's one-point loss to Louisiana State ended Arizona's six-polling period run atop the Associated Press Top 25, which was a school record. In fact, UA's six-week run as the nation's No. 1 team also equaled the most polling periods in which the program has been No. 1 in a single season (1988).
Bouncing Back: Saturday's loss also continued a interesting Wildcat trend. Arizona is now 3-10 in its last 13 games played immediately prior to Christmas. The good news is that the squad is 13-0 in games immediately following the Christmas break. Incidentally, each of those wins have come in the UA's own Fiesta Bowl Classic.
When Shots Don't Fall: The Wildcats' first loss of the season predictably came when the squad posted season-low field goal (23-70/.329) and three-point field goal (4-22/.182) percentages. The poor shooting night led to a season-low 65-point offensive output. Poor shot selection and ball movement also hindered the effort as the Cats collected just five assists on 23 field goals made. Missing its first 13 shots of the second half in Saturday's game certainly helped to seal UA's fate against LSU, but even if you remove those misses, Arizona would have shot just .403 (23-of-57) for the game, which would have been the team's second-worst effort of the season. Over its last three games, UA is shooting a combined 38.9 percent (79-of-203) from the field.
Invaluable: Just how valuable is senior forward Luke Walton to Arizona's success? In the four games in which he has seen action, Arizona is averaging 97.0 points per game, shooting 49.8 percent from the floor, outrebounding the opposition by +7.6 per game, has a 1.38:1 assist:turnover ratio and a +7.5 turnover margin. In the two games without Walton, Arizona is averaging 69.0 points, shooting 36.0 percent, outrebounding the opposition by +1.0, has a -1.2:1 assist:turnover ratio and a +4.5 turnover margin.
Search is On: In looking for positives in Saturday's loss, Arizona held Louisiana to just 37.5 percent shooting in the second half (10-of-28) and allowed just 66 points, two fewer than its season average. The Wildcats collected 12 steals, its first double-figure output in four games, and forced 19 turnovers, while committing just 11. Additionally, Arizona did outrebound LSU, 23-14 over the final 15 minutes of the game.
Doubling Up: Freshman Andre Iguodala grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds (five offensive) in Saturday's loss, marking his second double-figure rebounding effort in the last three games. The 6-foot-8 forward leads Arizona with a 6.5 rebounds per game average and 20 offensive rebounds. Against LSU, Iguodala also added four points, two blocks and a team-high four steals in 25 minutes with no turnovers.
More Help on the Glass: Hassan Adams also put forth a solid effort Saturday with 11 points and five rebounds against the Tigers. Four of Adams' five rebounds were offensive to help Arizona to a season-best 22 offensive boards. For good measure, Adams also hit all three of his free throw attempts in the contest.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner's team-high 16 points Saturday pushed him past 1,600 career points scored. Gardner now ranks ninth in Arizona history with 1,602 points scored and is 18 points shy of eighth place. With his next start, Gardner will move into sole possession of third place on Arizona's career starts list at 110. Currently tied with Craig McMillan at 109, only Sean Elliott (133) and Anthony Cook (123) rank ahead of Gardner.
Taking Care of the Ball: The Wildcats continue to win the turnover battle this season, as the squad is forcing 6.5 more turnovers per game than it commits. On the year, Arizona is forcing 20.2 turnovers per game, while committing an average of 13.7 per game. Leading the way for Arizona is Jason Gardner, who has turned it over just 14 times in six games. That averages out to one turnover in every 13.9 minutes played. Arizona has won the turnover margin in all six games this season.
Getting Defensive: Here are a few defensive notes of interest regarding Salim Stoudamire. The sophomore guard recorded his first career blocked shot Saturday against LSU and also equaled a career high with two steals. Last season, Stoudamire was named Arizona's best defensive player.
Outshot: Louisiana State outshot Arizona, .442-.329, marking the first time this season that the Wildcats have been outshot from the floor. Over the last three seasons, Arizona is 48-3 (.941) when outshooting the opposition.
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 28.3 percent (32-of-113) of its attempts from behind the arc. The Cats limited LSU to just 27.3 percent (3-of-11) and has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 33 percent from three-point range in any game this season.
A Good Indicator: A high number of assists is generally a good indicator of good ball movement and good shot selection. Saturday's five assists at LSU was just plain poor. Since the start of the 1999-2000 campaign, Arizona failed to amass at least 10 assists nine times in 110 games and is 3-6 in those games.
At the Line: If it weren't for Arizona's 5-of-6 shooting from the line in last three minutes, it's performance from the charity stripe would have been much lower than its 65.2 percent effort. All told, Arizona has outscored its opponents by 40 points from the free throw line on the season, but the team's percentage dropped below 70 percent (103-of-148/.696) after the LSU game.
Wake Up Call: Maybe the team's internal clocks were still on Mountain Standard Time, but whatever the reason, it took the Wildcats the better part of 35 minutes to become a force on the boards. UA was outrebounded, 21-14, in the first half only to turn the tables in the second, 27-23. Isaiah Fox, Hassan Adams and Channing Frye managed to grab 15 of their 16 rebounds in the contest after the halftime break.
In December: Arizona is 109-36 (.752) under Lute Olson in the month of December, including a 69-19 (.784) mark since the 1990-91 season.
Revolving Door: 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 six games this season. Only Rick Anderson and Jason Gardner have started every game to date.
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.
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: Following tonight's game, Arizona will take on either Boston University or Florida State Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic consolation/championship game. The game will tip-off at either 4:45 or 7 p.m. MST and be televised on Fox Sports Net Arizona. UA opens the Pac-10 schedule at Oregon on Jan. 2. Tip-off is 9 p.m. PST.