Dec. 6, 2001
Date: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2001 Time: 1:30 p.m. PST Location: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (16,600), Anaheim, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSNA (Bob Neal/Bill Walton)
Game Data: No. 7 Arizona (4-1, 0-0 Pac-10) continues its three-game foray into Big Ten play as the Cats take on Purdue (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) in the opening game of the eighth annual John R. Wooden Classic ... It is UA's second of three consecutive games against Big Ten opponents ... Arizona is 25-24 (.510) all-time vs. Big Ten Conference opponents, and has won 11 of the last 16 against the Big Ten, including a 4-2 mark since the start of last season ... The Wildcats have a 2-1 record all-time in the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim and a 1-1 record in Wooden basketball tournament action.
The Rankings: After Saturday's loss to Kansas, Arizona fell to No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and to No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 239 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 643-226 (.740) and 451-134 (.771) 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 (250) 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 271-27 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 199 of its last 211 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 9-13 vs. Purdue.
Last Time Out: Led by its freshmen, Arizona opened up as much as a 19-point lead and then held on for the 87-82 win Tuesday over fifth-ranked Illinois. The freshmen scored UA's final 17 points of the first half, as the team pushed an eight-point lead to 16 at the break. The lead ballooned 19 early in the second half after a Rick Anderson trey before Illinois' Frank Williams led a comeback that would get the Illini as close as four points. Jason Gardner hit 10-of-12 free throws in the game's final two minutes to keep the Wildcats in the lead.
Scouting Purdue: The Boilermakers enter play this afternoon with a 5-2 record after Wednesday's 70-66 win over Xavier. Purdue is outscoring the opposition by 4.0 points per game, but is being outrebounded, 37.4-35.6, and outshot, .443-.439 on the year (although the Boilers held Xavier to just .352 shooting). Five players are averaging 10.6 points or better, led by senior guard Maynard Lewis and his 14.4 ppg mark. Forward Rodney Smith leads the club with a 6.4 rebounds per game average.
The Series: Today's game marks the 10th meeting of the two schools with Purdue holding a 5-4 series advantage. The two team met last season at the inaugural Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis and the Boilers pulled out a 72-69 win on Nov. 25. The schools first met on Jan. 1, 1934, a 34-23 Purdue win in West Lafayette. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-2 in West Lafayette, and 3-3 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Purdue 72, Arizona 69, Nov. 25, 2000. On the strength of 52 percent shooting from the field, Purdue handed Arizona its first loss of the 2000-01 season, 72-69, in Indianapolis. The Boilers jumped out to a 15-3 lead in the first 3:48 and erased a seven-point, second-half deficit to earn the win. It was the first time that a UA opponent to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. Michael Wright continued his solid play with 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Luke Walton added nine points and eight rebounds.
Wooden History: This marks Arizona's second appearance in the John R. Wooden Classic, and the program's third in a Wooden basketball tournament, when counting last year's appearance in the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis. Arizona defeated Utah, 69-61, on Dec. 7, 1996, in its previous Wooden Classic appearance.
Pond Memories: Today's game is also the Wildcats' fourth appearance in the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, where the team has a 2-1 record. In addition to the 1996 Wooden Classic win over Utah. The team also played two games in The Pond at the 1998 NCAA West Regional, defeating Maryland, 87-79, in the semifinal and losing to Utah, 76-51, in the regional final.
On the Rebound: After struggling a bit against Kansas, the UA freshmen certainly rebounded positively in the win over Illinois. The sextet combined to play 107 of the team's 200 minutes and collected 37 points and 20 rebounds. It was actually the quartet of Isaiah Fox, Dennis Latimore, Will Bynum and Salim Stoudamire (along with Jason Gardner) that pushed an eight-point UA lead to 16 at halftime by scoring the Cats' final 17 points of the first half. Arizona received its biggest boost when Stoudamire and Bynum connected on three treys in a span of 48 seconds in the half's final two minutes.
Answering the Call: Junior forward Rick Anderson has been a second-half wonder of late. In helping the Cats defeat No. 5 Illinois, Anderson scored 11 of his career-high 18 points in the second half. It was the second straight game in which he has put up big numbers after the break, as he tallied 15 of his 17 points vs. Kansas after halftime.
Close Calls: These young Wildcats have not cracked in late-game pressure situations, as three of UA's four wins this season have come in games decided by three points or less. Just for comparison, last year's NCAA runner-up went 4-4 under the same circumstances.
Catching Caroms: Despite entering the week ranked sixth in the Pac-10 in rebound margin (+3.0), Arizona has managed to outrebound four of five opponents this season. The only team to outboard the Cats was Kansas, who managed to post a +1 margin in its seven point win last Saturday. Since the start of last season, Arizona is 26-5 when outrebounding the opposition.
Off Target: Arizona has not shot 50 percent or better from the floor in any game this season (.480 vs. Florida is a season high), and the last two games have been very unkind to the team's field goal percentage. In those two games (Kansas/Illinois), Arizona shot a combined .362 (55-of-152) from the floor. In fact, the team is shooting better from three-point range in that span, hitting on 22-of-60 (.367) attempts.
In December: Arizona is 102-33 (.756) under Lute Olson in December, including a 62-16 (.795) mark since the 1990-91 season.
Gardner Scores: Jason Gardner has scored more than 20 points in all five games to date this season. The last Wildcat to score at least 20 points in five straight games was Jason Terry, who actually did it in eight straight games from Jan. 28-Feb. 20, 1999. In that span, Terry averaged 25.9 points, while Gardner carries a 26.2 ppg average.
Season Bests: Arizona posted two season bests on Tuesday, as the squad set new game highs of 29 free throws made and five blocked shots vs. the Fighting Illini. Helped by the fact that the teams combined for 71 free throws, UA held Illinois to an opponent-low 60 field goal attempts.
Positive Ratios: The Wildcats have posted positive assist:turnover ratios in each of its last three games. In that span, Arizona has passed out 44 assists against 38 turnovers. UA entered the week fifth in the Pac-10 in assist:turnover ratio (+1.04).
More from Gardner: Jason Gardner continues to do all of the things one could expect from a junior point guard. In addition to hitting a career-high 12-of-15 free throws on Tuesday (10-of-12 in the last 2:00), the Indianapolis native also notched a season-best six boards and played all 40 minutes for the third time this year. Already the UA career leader in minutes per game average, Gardner has played 195 of a possible 200 minutes this season (39.0 mpg average).
From the Line: One trend that did continue in Tuesday's win was a scoring advantage from the free throw line. UA outscored Illinois, 29-28, from the line, but had to take five more attempts to do so. On the year, Arizona has made more free throws (103) than the opposition has attempted (102). The team is also shooting .736 from the charity stripe. Interestingly, in the four games against Illinois since the start of last season, Arizona scored 112 of its points from the free throw line, or 34.4 percent of its total points scored.
Scoring 80: Tuesday's win over Illinois marked the team's second this season when scoring at least 80 points. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 47-4 (.922) 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.
Stepping Up: Freshman forward Dennis Latimore put together his second consecutive strong outing, totaling eight points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes vs. Illinois. In the last two games, Latimore has tallied all 13 of his points this season and 16 of his 22 rebounds, not to mention 46 of his 65 minutes played.
That's Offensive: Rick Anderson currently ranks second on the team with a 7.4 rebounds per game average mostly on the strength of his work on the offensive glass. Twenty-two of his 37 rebounds this season have come on the offensive glass, including 13 in the last two games. He was the Pac-10's leading offensive rebounder (4.00 per game) entering the week and actually improved on that with six against Illinois.
Stolen Moments: Led by Luke Walton and Will Bynum, who had three apiece, Arizona collected nine steals in Tuesday's win, it's second-highest total of the season. Through five games Walton ranks second on the team with seven thefts, while Bynum ranks fourth with six.
Pac-10 Predictions: In voting done by Pac-10 Conference media members, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in the league standings, its lowest predicted finish since 1985-86. Despite receiving two first-place votes (one of three teams to do so), UA ranked fourth with 200 points behind UCLA, Stanford and USC. Ironically, the last time the Cats were picked to finish as low, Coach Olson and crew captured the first his of nine Pac-10 titles.
Roster Moves: Two players were added to the roster in late October after surviving the program's fall tryout. Junior Fil Torres (G, 6-2, 185) from Lisle, Ill., and freshman Anas Fellah (G, 5-10, 165) from Tucson have officially joined the program. Counting senior forward Peter Hansen, who has officially joined the team now that football has ended, these two additions bring the number of players on the roster to 14.
Tuning In: Tuesday night's Arizona-Illinois game, televised by Fox Sports Net Arizona drew a 2.7 rating, which is a new all-time high for an Arizona men's basketball non-conference game seen on Fox Sports Net Arizona. It was also the fifth-highest rating for Wildcat basketball telecast on the network.
Up Next: Arizona takes the week off for final exams before heading to East Lansing, Mich., to take on No. 24 Michigan State on Saturday, Dec. 15. The game, which will be televised on CBS, is scheduled to tip-off at 2 p.m. EST.