Jan. 10, 2003
Date: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003 Time: 5 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: Second-ranked Arizona (10-1, 3-0 Pac-10) looks to start 4-0 in conference play for the first time since 1999-2000 Saturday against Washington (6-6, 1-2 Pac-10) ... A win Saturday would also be Arizona's sixth consecutive, a season best ... UA is limiting opponents to just 68.6 points per game, and only one has scored more than 80 ... Arizona's 86.3 points per game average is on pace to rank as the fourth-highest scoring team in school history ... The Cats are 4-1 on Saturday this 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 673-236 (.740) and 481-144 (.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 fourth most Pac-10 wins (265) 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 287-29 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 215 of its last 229 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 28-11 against Washington, including an 17-2 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: Arizona snapped out of a lethargic performance just long enough to post a 15-0 run midway through the second half in earning an 82-69 win Thursday against Washington State. It was the team's third Pac-10 victory of the year. Channing Frye, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton combined for 13 points and four assists in the key run, which covered 3:37 and pushed the lead to 19. A balanced UA attack, featuring four players in double figures, offset a 35-point effort by WSU's Marcus Moore while Frye (11 pts./14 reb.) and Rick Anderson (13 pts./10 reb.) each collected double-doubles.
Scouting Washington: The Huskies (6-6, 1-2 Pac-10) enter play Saturday looking to end a 12-game losing streak in the state of Arizona after Thursday's 89-57 loss at Arizona State. Washington shoots 42.4 percent from the floor and averages 72.4 points, but defense is its strong suit. UW leads the Pac-10 in 3-point field goal defense (.264) and forces 20.0 turnovers per game. Individually, three Huskies average in double figures, led by Will Conroy's 14.5 ppg average. All-Pac-10 performer Doug Wrenn checks in with averages of 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
The Series: Today's game marks the 50th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 34-15 series advantage. Arizona has won six consecutive games in the series, which dates back to Dec. 29, 1964, including a 91-82 win on Feb. 7, 2002, in the last meeting. All-time, Arizona is 19-4 in series games played in Tucson, 14-11 in Seattle and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 125 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 91, Washington 82, Feb. 7, 2002: The UA frontline combined to hit 19-of-29 field goal attempts to help Arizona outlast Washington, 91-82. Luke Walton (21), Channing Frye (16) and Rick Anderson (11) tallied 48 of the Cats' 91 points and helped the squad shoot 54 percent from the floor in an otherwise listless performance. Frye tallied his fifth double-double of the year and Jason Gardner, who added a game-high seven assists, scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.
On the Rise: A win today would give Arizona head coach Lute Olson his 266th career Pac-10 victory. That would tie him for third place on the league's all-time wins list with 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) rank ahead of Edmundson and Olson when it comes to Pac-10 wins.
Something Has to Give: Entering the week, Arizona and Washington rank 1-2 in the league in terms of turnover margin, so something will have to give. Arizona (+3.9) and Washington (+3.3) each force the opposition into 19 or mer turnovers per game. Just how important is the turnover battle? Arizona is 8-1 this year when committing the same or less turnovers, while Washington is 5-4.
Windex Men: Arizona enters play this weekend with a league-leading +9.8 rebound margin. What's been interesting about the team's performance on the glass is that the numbers have actually improved significantly since Pac-10 play started. Prior to last week's Pac-10 opener at Oregon, Arizona's rebound margin was +7.0. In the three games since, that figure has risen to its current +9.8. UA posted rebound margins of +22 at Oregon, +16 at Oregon State and +14 vs. Washington State.
Must Be Contagious: Good passing can be infectious. In addition to Luke Walton (8) and Jason Gardner (6) combining for 14 assists Thursday, fellow tri-captain Rick Anderson also got into the action with a season-high four helpers. The captains tallied 18 of Arizona's 21 assists.
Shot Blocker: It certainly is nice to have that defensive presence in the middle and Channing Frye provided that Thursday. The 6-foot-10 center, who leads the team with 16 blocks, equaled a career high with five blocked shots against the Cougars. It marked the fourth time in his 45-game career that he has rejected five shots in a game. His 10 defensive rebounds Thursday were team high in 2002-03 as well.
Finishing Strong: As has seemingly been the case all season, it was a strong second-half performance that keyed Thursday's win. UA outshot (.484-.364), outrebounded (23-18) and outscored (48-38) Washington State in the second stanza. When comparing the halves through 11 games, Arizona outscores the opposition by 2.7 more points (10.2-7.5) in the second half.
Running to Stand Still: It's almost counterproductive to equal a season high with 21 assists and turn it over 21 times in the same contest, but it isn't that unusual. Three times this season Arizona has logged 20 or more assists and in two of those games committed 20 or more turnovers. Fortunately, it hasn't seriously hurt the club, as the Cats defeated both Western Kentucky and Washington State.
No Surprise There: It makes sense that victory will follow if a team does a good job of contesting shots and controlling the glass. In addition to its efforts on the glass, Arizona has done a nice job of contesting shots. In conference play, Arizona opponents are shooting a collective 40.7 percent from the field. UA limited Washington State to just 37.5 percent from the floor, marking the fourth time this season that an opponent has failed to shoot 40 percent.
Doubling Up: Senior Rick Anderson (13 pts./10 reb.) and sophomore Channing Frye (11 pts./14 reb.) each registered double-doubles Thursday. It was the first time since Jan. 31, 2002 (Walton/Anderson at California), that a pair of UA players had each recorded a double-double in the same game. It was Arizona's third double-double of the season. Anderson (8) and Frye (7) have combined for 15 career double-doubles.
Back in Action: Forward Luke Walton returned to the lineup Thursday after a 10-day absence due to a right ankle sprain and posted nine points, a season-high eight assists, two rebounds and two steals in a season-best 24 minutes. Arizona scored nine field goals in the first 8:31 of the second half, including a 15-0 run to break the game open, and Walton was responsible for six of them. He scored three and assisted on three others.
Leading the Way: Jason Gardner poured in a team-high 19 points Thursday, marking the fifth time he has led the team in scoring. The senior guard also added six assists in the contest, which means that he has passed out six or more assists in six games this season. Arizona is 47-8 (.855) during Gardner's career when he passes out five or more assists in a game.
A First: Sophomore Dennis Latimore's hard work and elevated performance of late earned the 6-foot-8 forward his first career start. Over the last five games, Latimore is averaging 5.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. As Coach Olson said after Thursday's game, "Dennis plays so hard and practices so hard all of the time that we thought he deserved a chance to start."
Flashing the D: Chris Rodgers equaled a season high with three steals Thursday night and helped Arizona notch 10 steals as a team. It was the first time in league play and fifth time this season that the Wildcats have reached double figures in the pilfer category. All told, Rodgers is averaging a steal per every 11.9 minutes played, the best ratio on the team.
Struggling From the Line: Twenty-one makes and a +11 scoring advantage from the free throw line may not seem like a struggle, but the Wildcat percentages have been slipping of late. Thursday's 21-of-32 (.656) effort from the line marked the sixth time in 11 games that UA has failed to shoot better than 70 percent from the charity stripe. Arizona's current .691 free throw percentage is the lowest since 1996-97. On a positive note, UA is averaging 9.1 more FT attempts per game than the opposition.
More on Moore: Some stellar three-point shooting propelled Washington State's Marcus Moore to a pair of records Thursday night. The junior guard connected on 8-of-12 three-point attempts en route to 35 points. The eight treys equaled both an UA opponent and a McKale Center record for three point field goals, originally set by WSU's Jan-Michael Thomas in 1999. Incidentally, Moore's 35 points were the most scored against Arizona since Washington's Doug Wrenn tallied 35 on Feb. 7, 2002.
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 31.7 percent (73-of-230) of its attempts from behind the arc, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-10. Arizona held WSU to .379 from three-point range for the game, including .333 in the second half. No UA opponent has shot better than 39.3 percent from three-point range this season.
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: UA hits the road for a pair of games in Southern California next week. The Cats take on USC on Thursday, Jan. 16 (7:30 p.m. PST/FSN), and UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 18 (3 p.m. PST/ABC). Both games will be televised nationally.