Game 11: Arizona (7-3, 0-0) at Washington State (6-2, 0-0)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005
Time: 7 p.m. PST
Location: Spokane Arena (12,210), Spokane, Wash.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: Arizona (7-3, 0-0 Pac-10) travels to Spokane, Wash., to take on Washington State (7-2, 0-0 Pac-10) Thursday in the Pac-10 opener for both schools ... Arizona opens conference play on the road for the fourth time in the last five seasons ... The Wildcats last played in the Spokane Arena on Jan. 11, 2001, an 84-51 UA win over WSU, and is 2-0 in the facility all-time.
The Rankings: Arizona fell out of both the Associated Press Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time since the start of the 1987-88 season. Prior to this week, UA had been ranked in 312 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 23rd season at Arizona and his 33rd overall as a college head coach with a career record of 748-259 (.743) and 556-167 (.769) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 700th collegiate victory on Jan. 3, 2004, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (305) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.778/305-87) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 23-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 21 consecutive seasons, 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 seven times (1986, ?'88, ?'89, ?'93, ?'94, ?'98, 2003), 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 18 years (479-118/.802) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 18 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 27 overall in his career, making him one of only four head coaches in NCAA history to record 27 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 327-33 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 255 of its last 272 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 46-11 against Washington State.
Last Time Out: Both teams took turns building and squandering 10-point, second-half leads in an entertaining Fiesta Bowl Classic championship game before Arizona took control in the extra session and defeated Western Kentucky, 86-81, in overtime on Dec. 21. WKU outrebounded UA, 48-35, but Arizona countered by converting 25 ?'Topper turnovers into 32 points. The Cats hit 5-of-6 free throws and forced the Hilltoppers to miss its first four FG attempts in overtime to build a six-point lead with 2:02 to go. Hassan Adams scored 14 of his game-high 23 points after halftime to earn Classic MVP honors.
Scouting Washington State: The Cougars carry a 6-2 record (0-0 Pac-10) into tonight’s game (not counting the Dec. 22 game vs. Utah) following the 61-46 win over Portland on Dec. 17. As a team, WSU shoots 47.3 percent from the field (184-of-389), including 37.2 percent (42-of-113) from three-point range, while averaging 64.0 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 35.4 percent clip and average 54.2 points per game. Sophomore guard Derrick Low leads the Cougars with a 10.1 ppg average.
The Series: Tonight’s game is the 58th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 46-11 series advantage. UA has won 39 of the last 40 meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1959, including the last get-together, 57-56, in overtime in Pullman on Feb. 24, 2005. All-time, Arizona is 22-6 in series games played in Tucson, 20-5 in Pullman, Wash., and 4-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 104 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 57, Washington State 57 (OT), Feb. 24, 2005: Ivan Radenovic made two free throws with nine seconds remaining in overtime to clinch the come-from-behind win by scoring the final four points of the ball game. Channing Frye tallied 26 points, eight rebounds and four blocks to lead the UA frontline that scored 46 of Arizona’s 57 points and grabbed 24 of 33 rebounds. UA hit 16-of-20 free throws en route to a 16-9 advantage from the line.
For (Conference) Openers: Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978-79, Arizona is 19-8 (.704) in conference openers, including a 9-7 mark on the road. Under Olson, the Wildcats are 16-5 (.762) in Pac-10 openers with a 9-5 record away from home. Arizona has opened conference play on the road against Washington State only once in that span and is 0-1. Fred Snowden’s 1978-79 squad lost 74-68 on Dec. 8, 1978, in its Pac-10 debut.
Mr. MVP: Hassan Adams earned Most-Valuable-Player honors at the Fiesta Bowl Classic for the second time in his career (2002) after averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals in the pair of victories. Adams shot 50.0 percent from the floor (17-of-34) and added five assists and three blocks in the effort. He opened the week with 15 points (7-of-13 FGs), five boards and four steals in just 23 minutes Monday vs. Sam Houston State, and followed that up with a game-high 23 points (10-of-21 FGs), seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks Wednesday vs. Western Kentucky. Adams tallied 14 of those 23 points in the second half vs. the Hilltoppers, including four in overtime. He joins Sean Elliott (1986, ?'87, ?'88), Chris Mills (1990, ?'92) and Michael Dickerson (1996, ?'97) as the only players to win multiple Fiesta Bowl Classic MVP honors.
That’s More Like It: Arizona won its fifth consecutive game Wednesday to improve its season record to 7-3. Three of the five wins have been by 12 points or more. In the process, the Wildcats also captured the Fiesta Bowl Classic championship for the 20th time in its 21-year history. UA’s record in the event rose to 41-1.
On the Rise: It took ten games to do so, but Arizona finally managed to get its own field goal percentage above that of the opposition, as the Wildcats are now shooting 42.3 percent (271-of-641) as a team. That is a mere five percentage points (41.8) better than UA opponents. It may not sound like much, but after opening the season shooting a combined 36.1 percent (69-of-191) in three games at the EA Sports Maui Invitational, the Cats have shot a respectable 44.9 percent (202-of-450) from the field in the last seven games.
Making the Conversion: It’s not surprising that a team that collects a lot of steals would (obviously) also force a lot of turnovers. So it would follow that Arizona averages 11.90 steals per game and forces an average of 23.2 turnovers per game. All told, Arizona has forced 21 or more turnovers in eight of 10 games and collected 10 or more steals in seven of 10 contests. On the season, Arizona has converted the opponents’ 232 turnovers into 257 points ?- that’s more than 100 more than it has surrendered. On average, Arizona holds a 25.7-13.8 advantage in points off turnovers per game this season. In Wednesday’s win over Western Kentucky, Arizona forced 25 turnovers and held a 32-13 advantage in points off turnovers.
Over 80: The Wildcats enjoyed its best back-to-back offensive outputs of the season in the wins over Sam Houston State and Western Kentucky by scoring 173 points (86.5 ppg). It marked the first time the team has scored 80 points in consecutive games this season. How important is the 80-point plateau for the Wildcats? Arizona is 145-18 (.890) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.
Winning The Close Ones: Arizona’s 86-81 overtime win over Western Kentucky on Wednesday was the first time this season the team had won a game decided by five points or less. Each of its previous six wins were decided by nine or more, including three by more than 26 points. Additionally, the win was the second of the season when trailing at the half. UA other come-from-behind victory came Dec. 10 vs. Saint Mary’s. Arizona shot a combined 55.4 percent (31-of-56) from the field (not counting overtime) in the second half of those games to erase identical seven-point halftime deficits.
Indelible: Senior Hassan Adams continues to dent the Arizona record book. With 38 points last week, Adams moved into 15th place on the school’s career scoring list with 1,468 points (109 games). At his current 19.3 ppg average, the 6-foot-4 guard from Los Angeles will easily finish in the top 10. Current UA assistant coach Miles Simon (1994-98) occupies the No. 10 spot on the list with 1,664 points. Adams is also three blocked shots shy of moving into the top 10 on UA’s career blocks list and has a chance to crack the top 10 in rebounds. He already ranks sixth on the career steals list with 184.
Bombs Away: Guard Chris Rodgers earned a spot on the Fiesta Bowl Classic all-tournament team for the second year in a row by averaging 19.0 points, 3.0 assists and 3.5 steals in the two games. The 6-foot-4 senior from Portland, Ore., hit 8-of-15 (.533) shots from three-point range. Rodgers has become UA’s leading three-point threat with 23 treys on the season (67 att./.343). No other Cat has more than seven to date.
Heating Up: It took him nine games to do so, but since opening the season 0-for-7 from three-point range, freshman J.P. Prince knocked down his first two collegiate treys Dec. 19 vs. Sam Houston State. For good measure, the 6-foot-6 Memphis product dropped in two more against WKU. The blossoming offensive firepower is a nice compliment to his decision-making abilities, as he ranks second on the team with 30 assists. More impressively, Prince leads the Pac-10 with a 3.33 assist:turnover ratio.
On Target: Wildcat watchers are beginning to see a more assertive Marcus Williams and the change in showing up in the statistics. Over his last five games, the forward is averaging 14.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. In that span, he is shooting 59.6 percent (28-of-47) from the floor and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the line. In the two games of the Fiesta Bowl Classic, Williams connected on 14-of-17 (.824) of his field goal attempts.
From the Point: Point guard Mustafa Shakur averaged 9.0 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds during the Fiesta Bowl Classic. In a total of 51 minutes played, the 6-foot-3 junior hit 5-of-10 shots from the floor, 7-of-8 from the line and posted a 4:1 assist:turnover ratio. In Shakur’s career, Arizona is 32-6 (.842) when he passes out five or more assists in a game, including 4-1 this year.
Getting After it: Lute Olson called Daniel Dillon Arizona’s most improved player since the end of last season. The praise has turned into playing time for the 6-foot-3 sophomore from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, as he’s already logged 124 minutes this season, seven more than in 23 appearances last season. On the year, Dillon is averaging 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
Finding Positives: Throughout the season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity:
29-1 run over 10:43 vs. Virginia, Nov. 27 (UVa went 0-of-12 with seven turnovers during the run)
33-15 run over 10:26 vs. Sam Houston State, Dec. 19 (UA 13-of-20 in run)
21-6 run over 7:12 vs. Michigan State, Nov. 23 (no MSU field goals in last 5:44 of regulation)
20-4 run over 9:10 vs. Kansas, Nov. 21 (KU hits 3-of-first-12 FG attempts with nine TO)
21-5 run over 7:57 at Houston, Dec. 3 (two UH FGs in last eight minutes of first half)
21-9 run over 12:23 vs. Connecticut, Nov. 22 (UA hits 7-of-11 FG in run)
26-13 run over 13:04 vs. Saint Mary’s, Dec. 10 (nine SMC turnovers during run)
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Chase Budinger (F, 6-7, 190) from Carlsbad, Calif., LaCosta High School; Jordan Hill (F, 6-8, 210) from Atlanta, Ga., The Patterson (N.C.) School; and Nic Wise (G, 5-10, 180) from Kingwood, Texas., Kingwood High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight’s game, Arizona travels across the state to take on No. 9 Washington. The game, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 31, in Seattle, will tip-off at 11 a.m. PST and can be seen nationally on FSN.