Date: Thursday, March 6, 2003
Time: 6:30 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: Top-ranked Arizona (23-2, 15-1 Pac-10) closes out the regular season at McKale Center beginning Thursday vs. Oregon State (13-12, 6-10 Pac-10) ... Arizona has held the opposition to less than 40 percent shooting in seven of 16 Pac-10 games and owns a league-best .392 field goal percentage defense figure in conference play ... Thursday marks the first appearance in McKale Center for Tucson native and former UA assistant Jay John as Oregon State's head coach ... Olson is 5-1 in games against his former assistants ... Luke Walton needs seven assists to top 100 for the fourth straight season.
The Rankings: Arizona remains the nation's top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the fourth straight week. The Cats have been the top-ranked team in 12 of 17 AP polling periods this season. UA has been ranked in 268 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 686-237 (.743) and 494-145 (.773) 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 second-most Pac-10 wins (277) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.782/277-77) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... 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 10 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 16 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 25 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 25 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 292-30 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 220 of its last 235 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 35-6 against Oregon State, including a 20-0 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Salim Stoudamire scored 12 of his team-high 18 points and Luke Walton grabbed nine of his game-high 11 rebounds in the second half to help Arizona defeat Stanford, 72-69, Saturday and clinch the Pac-10 championship. The Cats held the Cardinal to 35.4 percent shooting for the game, committed just seven turnovers, and never lost the lead over the final 20 minutes in the three-point win. UA was outrebounded for sixth time this season, but managed to finish the season 9-0 in Pac-10 road games.
Scouting Oregon State: The Beavers (13-12, 6-10 Pac-10) enter Thursday's game with its most victories since 2000. One more win would give the squad its highest victory total since 1992. OSU, which has split its last four games, shoots .427 from the floor, posts a +1.4 rebound advantage and averages 69.3 points per game. The Beavers rank second in the Pac-10 with a 68.0 scoring defense figure. Individually, Philip Ricci leads the team with averages of 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. All told, eight OSU players average 10 minutes or better per game.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 54th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 38-15 series advantage. Arizona has won seven of the last eight games in the series, which dates back to Nov. 28, 1975, including a 80-65 decision in Corvallis on Jan. 4. All-time, Arizona is 21-5 in series games played in Tucson, 16-10 in Corvallis and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 124 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 80, Oregon State 65, Jan. 4, 2003: A balanced scoring and rebounding effort enabled Arizona to coast to the 15-point win and earn a road sweep in Oregon for the first time since 1997-98. Hassan Adam's 14 points led five UA players in double figures, while Isaiah Fox's 10 boards led five players with as many as five rebounds. The game wasn't in doubt after a 10-0 run midway through the first half broke an 11-11 tie, and the UA lead reached as many as 21 points five times in the second half.
Shooting Star: Salim Stoudamire led Arizona to a sweep of the Bay Area for the fourth consecutive season by averaging a team-best 19.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in two wins last week. He connected on 14-of-24 field goal attempts (.583), including 7-of-12 (.583) from three-point range, to go with a pair of assists. In Thursday's 88-75 win at California, Stoudamire scored a game-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-8 from behind the arc, in just 29 minutes of action. He followed that up with a team-high 18 points in Saturday's 72-69 win at Stanford in which he scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half to go with three rebounds and an assist in 38 minutes. On the year, Stoudamire is averaging 13.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the field, including 46.7 percent from three-point range. He earned Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors for his efforts. Three Wildcats (Gardner/Frye/Stoudamire) have earned the honor a league-leading four times this year.
Conference Titles: With a pair of victories last week, Arizona clinched its 10th Pacific-10 Conference championship and the school's 21st conference title overall. It was the Wildcats' first league title since 1999-2000 and its first outright title since 1997-98. Over the last 20 seasons, Lute Olson has guided his Wildcats to 10 conference championships, more than any other program in the nation's top six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern). On a national scale, Duke and Kansas each have nine league titles since 1983-84 pending this season's league outcome.
Accomplishments of Note: In sweeping the Bay Area for the fourth straight season, Arizona posted two noteworthy accomplishments. The Wildcats became just the third Pac-10 team to finish undefeated on the road in league play since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79. Oregon State (1980-81) and Stanford (2000-01) are the two other teams to accomplish the feat. Arizona also became the first Pac-10 team to sweep the Bay Area in four consecutive seasons since 1978-79.
Against Ranked Opponents: Victories over No. 23 California and No. 19 Stanford last week moved Arizona's record to 7-0 this season against nationally-ranked opponents, including 4-0 in road games. In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is 92-57 (.617) against ranked opposition.
And Then There Were Two: Arizona's win at Stanford on Saturday was Lute Olson's 277th career Pac-10 Conference win, which moved him into sole possession of second place on the league's all-time conference wins list. Olson has a 277-77 (.782) record in Pac-10 games and now trails only UCLA's John Wooden who amassed 304 conference victories from 1949-75. Olson's 10 Pac-10 championships is second in league history to Wooden's 16.
Quite a Career: Jason Gardner moved into fourth place on Arizona's career scoring list last week with a total of 1,874 points. The senior from Indianapolis trails Sean Elliott (2,555/1985-89), Bob Elliott (2,125/1973-77), and Khalid Reeves (1,925/1990-94) on Arizona's all-time scoring list. Gardner's 12 points in Saturday's win also moved him past 1,000 points scored in Pac-10 games only. In his 70-game Pac-10 career, Gardner has 1,006 points, good for a 14.4 points per game average.
Safe in His Hands: Victory might not have been secured Saturday if it weren't for the efforts of Luke Walton, especially on the glass. The 6-foot-8 senior from San Diego, Calif., tallied 10 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and four assists in the three-point win at Stanford. Nine of those 11 rebounds came in the second half with five coming in the final seven minutes. The forward has come on strong over the last five games by averaging 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists, while shooting 47.2 percent from the field (25-of-53) and 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from three-point range.
Balancing Act: Walton's improved play of late has improved the scoring balance on the Wildcat roster, as five players are averaging better than 10.0 points per game. Walton (10.1 ppg) joins Jason Gardner (14.5 ppg), Salim Stoudamire (13.3 ppg), Channing Frye (11.6 ppg) and Rick Anderson (10.4) in double figures. The only other Arizona teams to place as many as five players in double figures was 2000-01 (5/Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright, Loren Woods, Richard Jefferson, Jason Gardner), 1997-98 (5/Michael Dickerson, Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Jason Terry, A.J. Bramlett).
Nice Shot: Led by Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire and Rick Anderson, the Wildcats' marksmanship has improved dramatically of late. Over the last five games, Arizona is shooting 51.0 percent (158-of-310) from the floor and has shot 50 percent or better in three of those games. The trio of Frye, Stoudamire and Anderson is shooting a collective .581 (79-of-136) from the floor in that span. Incidentally, opponents are shooting just 38.0 percent over the last five games.
Stepping Up: Freshman Hassan Adams made some key contributions in Saturday's win as he finished with eight points (3-of-3 field goals), three rebounds and two steals at Stanford. Both of his steals led to important baskets, including his pilfer and layup with 4:59 to go that put Arizona up 64-61. He ranks third on the team with 27 steals.
Subtle Contributions: Senior Rick Anderson certainly could qualify as the most overlooked Wildcat, but his efforts Saturday were key in the three-point UA win. The forward from Long Beach, Calif., tallied 11 points, five rebounds, a block and an assist in a career-best 38 minutes. The 11 points scored also marked the 50th double figure game of Anderson's career.
Ball Security: Limiting your own turnovers definitely goes a long way towards winning and that was evidenced in Saturday's victory in Palo Alto, Calif. Arizona committed a season-low seven miscues in the victory, marking the fifth time this season the squad has turned it over less than 10 times. Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire totaled just two turnovers in a combined 114 minutes played.
League Leader: He's come a long way from the shooting struggles that hampered him during his return from an ankle sprain, and now Salim Stoudamire is leading the league with a .467 three-point field goal percentage (56-of-120). Over his 10 games, Stoudamire is shooting 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from three-point range.
Doubling Up: Luke Walton's 10-point, season-high 11-rebound effort in the win at Stanford was his third double-double of the season and the 14th of his career. It was also Arizona's 11th as a team this year.
Close Call: Arizona's three-point win Saturday improved its record to 3-2 this year in games decided by five points or less. Two of those wins have come on the road.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 79-7 (.919) 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 regular season finale and the final home game for four UA seniors, as the Wildcats host Oregon. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST on Saturday, March 8, and can be seen on CBS-TV.