March 1, 2002
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2002 Time: Noon MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: CBS (Craig Bolerjack/Clark Kellogg)
Game Data: No. 14 Arizona (18-9, 11-6 Pac-10) closes the regular season Saturday against No. 21 California (21-6, 12-5 Pac-10) at McKale Center ... Arizona is 7-6 this season against ranked opponents, including a 2-3 mark at home ... In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is 13-5 in regular season finales ... This season, the Wildcats are 6-2 in games immediately following a defeat ... UA collected 11 steals on Thursday, its second-highest tally and third double-figure effort of the year ... Arizona is 1-3 on CBS-TV this season.
The Rankings: Arizona picked up a win last week and held steady at No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and rose to No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 251 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 657-234 (.737) and 465-142 (.766) at Arizona ... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (261) 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 19-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 and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 17 years in a row, which is the 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 14 years (377-87/.813) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona - 15 alone since 1990 ... A Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last two years, Olson has led UA to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 23 overall in his career, making him one of only seven head coaches in NCAA history to record 23 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 279-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 207 of its last 221 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 30-9 vs. California, including a 15-2 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Once again, turnovers and rebounding proved to be a difference, as Arizona was careless early and Stanford controlled the boards late in the Cardinal's 76-71 win on Thursday. UA committed 12 of its 18 turnovers in the first half as it struggled just to remain tied at the break. Things didn't get better in the second half, as the Cats shot just 29.2 percent and were outrebounded, 25-11. Curtis Borchardt's 28-point nine-rebound effort neutralized Jason Gardner's 33-point, four-steal performance.
Scouting California: The Golden Bears (21-6, 12-5 Pac-10) enters Saturday's regular-season finale as one very hot ballclub. Cal has won seven of its last eight games, including a 91-80 win at Arizona State on Thursday, to vault into the national rankings and second place in the Pac-10 standings. One of the league's best defensive teams, Cal limits the opposition to just 64.5 points and a .407 field goal percentage. Sporting a balanced offensive attack, eight Golden Bears are averaging at least 6.4 points per game this season, led by Joe Shipp's 14.3 points per game mark.
The Series: Today's game marks the 62nd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 38-23 series advantage. The Wildcats have won 10 of the last 12 games in the series, which dates back to Feb. 1, 1924, including a 68-58 win in Berkeley on Jan. 31. All-time, Arizona is 19-8 in series games played in Tucson, 18-14 in Berkeley, and 1-1 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Arizona 68, California 58, Jan. 31, 2002. Arizona shot 65.0 percent from the field in the second half to come from behind and defeat Cal and end the Golden Bears' 12-game home win streak, 68-58. The Cats connected on 13-of-20 shots after the half and overcame a five-point deficit with 16 minutes remaining. Led by Jason Gardner, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, Arizona used a 24-9 run over 7:29 to take control of the contest. Rick Anderson and Luke Walton each collected double-doubles as UA outrebounded Cal, 37-29.
Big Shot: It seems like it's been the case all season, but once again Jason Gardner displayed a knack for hitting big shots. Of his 10 field goals Thursday vs. Stanford, two gave Arizona a lead and four tied the contest. He was also a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
First the Good . . . With rebounding a chief concern heading down the stretch, Arizona got off to a good start Thursday by outrebounding Stanford, 23-13, in the first half. Rick Anderson and Isaiah Fox led the way with seven first half rebounds.
Now the Bad: Stanford outrebounded Arizona 25-11 in the second half and limited the Wildcats to just 29.2 percent shooting (7-of-24) in the second half, 2001-02 season low. All told, UA was held to its lowest offensive output in the second half this season (34 points).
Shooting Struggles: Thursday's .377 field goal percentage (20-of-53) marked the first time since Dec. 15 that the Cats have failed to shoot at least 40 percent from the floor and has a 1-3 record when that happens. To take it a step further, Arizona has shot just 17-of-55 (.309) from the floor in the second half of its last two games.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,384 career points, which places him 16th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Joe Nehls, who tallied 1,409 points from 1976-80. Incidentally, Gardner has 69 double-figure scoring games in his 97-game career.
On the Glass: Rebounding has certainly been one of the team's trouble spots of late. The Wildcats have been outrebounded in six of the last 10 games, or by an average of 37.9-35.6 in that span. Through the first 17 games of the year, Arizona was outrebounding opponents 38.6-37.7.
30-Point Plateau: Jason Gardner came up one point shy of matching his career high Thursday, as he scored a game-high 33 points. Twenty of those points game in the first half (of the team's 37 points), marking Gardner's second and UA's third 20-point half of the year.
Ball Movement: All season long, we've heard the merits of good ball movement, which has a tendency to produce good shots and a good number of assists. So it comes as little surprise that in a game in which the Wildcats shot 37.7 percent from the floor and tallied just 20 field goals that the team could muster only a season-low eight assists.
Assists Please: Junior forward Luke Walton enters today's game just four assists shy of 400 for his career. The current Pac-10 leader in assists per game (6.3) has 396 career assists (4.2 apg) and would be the 12th player in school history to reach the 400-assist plateau.
Back in the Lineup: Freshman center Isaiah Fox returned to the starting lineup for the Arizona State game to aid in the rebounding efforts and has responded admirably. The Santa Monica, Calif., has grabbed 21 rebounds in the last two games. On the year, Fox is averaging 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Shot Selection: Jason Gardner has improved his accuracy from the field over the last three games. In that span, he's connected on 23-of-45 (.511) of his shots from the floor, including 15-of-27 (.556) from three-point range. He is eight treys shy of becoming just the third player in school history to register 100 treys in a single season, joining Steve Kerr and Damon Stoudamire.
Off the Mark: Center Channing Frye has connected on just 10-of-29 (.345) of his field goal attempts over his last five games. Prior to the slump, the freshman from Phoenix was shooting .638 (90-of-141) from the floor overall and .698 (60-of-86) in conference play. Despite the slump, Frye still leads UA with a .588 FG percentage.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 57-7 (.891) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. Last year, the Cats were a spotless 17-0 when scoring at least 80 points, and are 12-4 this year.
Top-10 List: Jason Gardner continues to move himself up various career top-10 lists. In addition to being the career leader in minutes per game (35.4), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (238), second in three-point FG attempts (631), eighth in steals (159) and starts (96), and 10th in assists (436) and free throws (358). Gardner and Damon Stoudamire are the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point field goals and 600 or more attempts.
Off Target: After shooting 56.5 percent from the floor in his previous five games, Salim Stoudamire connected on just 1-of-11 shots from the floor, including 0-of-5 from three-point range. Arguably, Stoudamire is Arizona's most consistent outside shooter, but he has suffered two poor shooting games this season. In addition to the Stanford game, Stoudamire also struggled against Kansas on Dec. 1 (2-of-19). If you subtracted those stats (3-of-30) from his season FG percentage, Stoudamire's shooting numbers would improve 41 points to .476 (101-of-212).
A Win Today . . . would give the Cats its 12th Pac-10 win of the year, marking the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that the club has won at least 12 league games. The only time since 1984-85 that UA didn't win 12 games came in 1996-97, but that club went on to win the National Championship. A win Saturday would probably secure the Cats a No. 2 seed in next week's Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.
400 Club: If the numbers hold up, the 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats has a chance to accomplish a rare statistical feat: have four players score at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (564 points) is already over the mark, while Luke Walton (364) leads a group of three players each within 58 points of 400. Obviously, the Cats would need to play a few more than the two remaining games on the team's schedule (counting the Pac-10 Tournament). But it is possible that this club could join the 1999-2000 team as the only two to do it since 1987-88.
At the Line: The Wildcats continue to do a good job of getting to the free throw line. In Thursday's loss to Stanford, Arizona did make as many free throws (24) as the Cardinal attempted. On the season, Arizona has made nearly as many free throws (517) as the opposition has attempted (540).
Freshmen Productivity: With freshmen occupying seven of the 14 spots on the roster, obviously that group would be primarily responsible for the majority of the productivity...but just how much? Through 27 games, UA freshmen have tallied 49.8 percent of the minutes played, 44.5 percent of the rebounds and 41.9 percent of the points scored.
Record-Setting Season: Arizona is almost assured of setting a school record for average attendance this season. Through 12 home dates, Arizona has averaged 14,541 fans per game, which is eight fans per game higher than last season's record of 14,533. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance each season since 1984-85.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following Saturday's game, the Wildcats travel to Los Angeles for the second incarnation of the Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament. The event runs from March 7-9 in the Staples Center.