COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team (8-2) opens Pacific-10 play with the second of four consecutive road games when it faces Washington (4-6) at 7 p.m. (PDT) next Monday, Dec. 27. Live audio is available at www.arizonaathletics.com, as well as on KJLL 1330 AM in Tucson.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Senior point guard and Chicago native Dee-Dee Wheeler made her homecoming count, finishing with 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals as Arizona defeated Chicago State 70-50 in front of an Arizona-dominated crowd at the Jacoby D. Dickens Center last Sunday. Freshman Jessica Arnold added 16 points on 6-of-8 (.750) shooting, while freshman Ashley Whisonant tallied 12 points. Junior Shawntinice Polk finished with nine points and 11 rebounds, but was limited to just 17 minutes, as she was hampered by foul trouble early. Sophomore Shannon Hobson also pulled down 11 boards. Arizona shot 43 percent from the field on the game, compared to the 28 percent of the Cougars. The Wildcats also out-rebounded Chicago State 43 to 41 and forced 21 Cougar turnovers.
On the season, the Wildcats are led by Wheeler, who averages 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game. Polk adds 13.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, while Jones averages 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds. As a team, Arizona is out-shooting its opponents 47 percent to 36 percent and out-rebounding them 40.0 to 35.5.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: Washington lost its third-straight game Tuesday night, falling 76-74 to Colorado in overtime. The Buffaloes scored the game-winning lay-up with 1.9 seconds to play. A long inbounds pass set up freshman guard Dominique Banks for a potential game-winner, but her 30-footer struck the front rim and fell to the floor as time expired. Banks’ 19 points, six rebounds and four assists were all career highs. Jill Bell added a career-high 14 points while Kayla Burt scored nine. Washington edged the Buffaloes 49 to 48 in rebounding and forced 24 Colorado turnovers on the game, but the Huskies shot 34 percent from the field on the game, compared to the 53 percent of CU.
On the season, the Huskies are led by Burt, who averages 10.8 points per game. Cameo Hicks adds 8.1 points, while Bell averages 7.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. As a team, Washington is shooting 36 percent from the field, compared to the 48 percent of its opponents. The Huskies are also being out-rebounded 36.6 to 40.7.
SERIES SHORTS: Arizona trails the all-time series with Washington 14-25, though the Wildcats have won five in a row. In the last meeting between the two teams, on March 7, 2004, Arizona won 77-55 in the Pac-10 Tournament. The Wildcats are 10-9 at home, 2-16 away and 2-0 at a neutral site vs. the Huskies.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10: The Wildcats currently lead the Pacific-10 in blocked shots (4.9), defensive rebounds (25.9), scoring offense (76.1) and field goal percentage (.468), rank second in field goal percentage defense (.355) and rebounding offense (40.0), third in rebounding margin (4.5) and scoring margin (14.7), fourth in assists (16.1) and three-point field goal percentage (.356), and fifth in scoring defense (61.4) and assist/turnover ratio (0.9).
Individually, Dee-Dee Wheeler ranks second in assist/turnover ratio, third in scoring assists and steals, and sixth in minutes played. Shawntinice Polk leads the league in field goal percentage, blocked shots and defensive rebounds, ranks second in rebounding and seventh in scoring. Natalie Jones ranks 10th in three-point field goal percentage, tied for 17th in scoring and 18th in rebounding, while Jessica Arnold is fifth in three-point field goal percentage.
RANKING NATIONALLY: As a team, Arizona ranks 17th nationally in scoring, 19th in field goal percentage, 36 in scoring margin and won-lost percentage, 40th in blocked shots and 41st in field goal percentage defense.
Individually, junior Shawntinice Polk ranks 12th in field goal percentage and 23rd in blocked shots per game. Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler ranks 41st in assists per game, 45th in steals per game and 48th in points per game.
WILDCATS IN CONFERENCE OPENERS: Arizona is 9-9 all-time in Pacific-10 openers, including a 1-2 mark against the Huskies. The Wildcats are 14-16 overall in conference openers, having also been members of the Intermountain Conference (1972-79), the Western Collegiate Athletic Association (1979-85) and the Pac-West Conference (1985-86).
WHEELER NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is the reigning U.S. Bank Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Player of the Week. A senior from Chicago, Wheeler averaged 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals in two games as Arizona defeated UC Santa Barbara and Chicago State. On the week, she shot 51 percent from the field (21-of-41), including a .538 clip (7-of-13) from long range. The honor is the second for Wheeler and the 33rd all-time selection for Arizona.
Wheeler posted her best game ever as a Wildcat in the 96-80 win over UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 16. She tied the school record for points in a game (35) and three-pointers in a game (7) as Arizona won its 33rd straight home game. Both were career highs. She also pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds to record her second career double-double.
At Chicago State on Dec. 19, Wheeler finished with game highs in points (20) and assists (6). She also added five rebounds and three steals.
WILDCAT FRESHMEN SEEING LOTS OF PLAYING TIME: Arizona’s four freshmen - Jessica Arnold, Ch?© Oh, Chari Smith and Ashley Whisonant - are making their presence felt. In Arizona’s 10 games this season, the foursome have accounted for 35 percent (704 of 2000) of the team’s minutes.
JONES ON A ROLL: Junior guard Natalie Jones has drastically stepped up her scoring production over the last seven games. After averaging just 6.0 points per game in the first three games, Jones has reached double-digit scoring in six of the last seven games, including a career-high 23 against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 16. Though she was limited to just four points at Chicago State after landing on her tail bone due to a hard foul, her season average is now 10.8.
WHEELER UPS THREE-POINT PERCENTAGE DRASTICALLY: When Dee-Dee Wheeler scored a career-high 35 points at UC Santa Barbara, she did so by connecting on 7-of-11 from three-point range. Not only was the seven treys a career high, but the 64 percent rocketed her season three-point percentage from 20 percent (6-of-30) to 32 percent (13-of-41).
80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: In the program’s 33-year history, the Wildcats are almost guaranteed a win when they reach 80 points. Arizona is 159-20 (89 percent) all-time when reaching the 80-point plateau. With Joan Bonvicini at the helm, the Wildcats are 120-13 (90 percent) when scoring 80 points or more. This year alone, Arizona is 4-0 in games where it has reached 80 points in the scoring column.
WHEELER’S SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: Point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler has scored 10 or more points in 43 consecutive games. The last time she failed to reach double-digit scoring was March 23, 2003, when she had seven points in a loss to Notre Dame. The senior has scored 10 or more points in 90 of her 102 career games.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE: During her career, junior Shawntinice Polk has recorded 40 double-doubles (21 as a freshman, 16 as a sophomore and three as a junior). The longest streak came at the start of her career, when she opened the 2002-03 season with eight consecutive double-doubles. During her three seasons, the Wildcats are 30-10 when Polk notches a double-double.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in field goals made (618), field goals attempted (1,338) and minutes played average (32.1), third in scoring (1,582) and steals (242), fourth in scoring average (15.5), three-point field goals made (147) and three-point field goals attempted (416), tied for fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.353), sixth in games started (97), seventh in total minutes played (3,278), eighth in assists (382) and ninth in free throw percentage (.737).
Junior Shawntinice Polk is first in double-doubles (40), blocks (186), rebounding average (10.3) and field goal percentage (.593), second in total rebounds (760), third in scoring average (16.6), sixth in field goals made (505) and free throws attempted (384), seventh in minutes played average (28.8) and ninth in scoring (1,225).
HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 33: The Cats have won 33 games in a row at home, the second longest streak in the nation behind Texas (39). The last time the Wildcats were defeated at home was Nov. 22, 2002, when they lost the 2002-03 season opener in overtime to Louisiana State, 78-71. Arizona then won its final 13 homes games during the 2002-03 season, and won all 14 games at McKale last year.
WILDCATS ON THE RADIO: All of Arizona’s games this season will be broadcast on Tucson’s Jolt, KJLL 1330 AM, the radio home of Arizona women’s basketball. With Paul Johnson returning for his 10th year as the Wildcats’ play-by-play announcer, the Jolt will broadcast every game, home and away.
WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Wildcats have three games this season that will be broadcast on FSN:
Sunday, Jan. 9 - 2:30 p.m. vs. Stanford
Saturday, Jan. 29 - 4 p.m. vs. Maryland (FSN)
Saturday, Feb. 19 - 2 p.m. at Oregon (FSN)
In addition, the Wildcats’ home games against Southern California (Feb. 12) and Washington (Feb. 26) are "wild card" games that could get picked up in the Pac-10 television package with FSN.
UP NEXT: Arizona travels to Pullman, Wash., for a 7 p.m. (PDT) game at Washington State next Wednesday, Dec. 29.