Feb. 8, 2002
Date: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2002 Time: 8 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: No. 11 Arizona (16-6, 9-3 Pac-10) looks to extend its current winning streak to four games Saturday as it hosts Washington State (5-15, 1-11 Pac-10) in McKale Center ... Arizona enters the game in an unfamiliar role this season: as favorite now that the team is tied for the conference lead ... Washington State has not defeated Arizona in 33 consecutive meetings, dating back to 1986 ... UA is averaging 92.5 points in its last six home games, while the opposition is scoring at an 87.5 ppg clip ... The Wildcats collected a season-high 13 steals Thursday vs. Washington.
The Rankings: After road wins at California and Stanford last week, Arizona rose to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 248 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 655-231 (.739) and 463-139 (.769) 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 (259) 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 277-28 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 205 of its last 218 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 34-2 vs. Washington State, including a 17-1 mark at McKale Center.
Last Time Out: The UA frontline combined to hit 19-of-29 field goal attempts to help Arizona outlast Washington, 91-82, on Thursday. 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.
Scouting Washington State: The Cougars (5-15, 1-11 Pac-10), enter Saturday's game having dropped a 96-45 decision at Arizona State on Thursday. Prior to that contest, the Coogs defeated intrastate rival Washington, 81-79, on Jan. 31. WSU is averaging 70.2 points and 33.5 rebounds per game, while shooting .418 from the floor, but is being outscored (78.2), outrebounded (35.5) and outshot (.495) by the opposition. Individually, Washington State has four players averaging in double figures, led by Marcus Moore's 15.7 points per game average.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 51st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 40-10 series advantage. The Wildcats have won the last 33 games in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1959, including a 92-85 decision in Pullman on Jan. 10. All-time, Arizona is 19-5 in series games played in Tucson, 17-5 in Pullman, and 4-0 in neutral-site games. See page 88 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 92, Washington State 85, Jan. 10, 2002. In an ebb-and-flow performance, the Wildcats took turns building a lead and holding on in a seven-point win at Washington State. UA used a 15-3 run midway through the first half to build a 12-point lead before letting it dwindle to just two at the break. The Cats then opened up the second half with a quick 9-0 run before that lead was cut to two with 1:33 remaining. Jason Gardner's trey at the 1:02 mark put the game out of reach, while Luke Walton added 15 points and a season-high 11 assists.
Leading the Charge: It's been a long time coming, but Luke Walton is quickly becoming an all-around impact player and not just a role player. The only Pac-10 player to be ranked among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals has averaged 18.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.1 steals in the nine games since he returned from his right Achilles' tendon strain. He's averaged 38.7 minutes per game and is shooting .573 (59-of-103) from the floor and .429 (6-of-14) from three-point range in that span. His impact helps the entire team, as UA is shooting .506 from the floor (44 points higher than the season FG percentage) and is averaging almost two more assists per game in that span.
The Tide is Rising: Thursday's win over Washington put the Wildcat record at 16-6 this season. It is the first time in 2001-02 that the team has been 10 games over .500, its high-water mark.
On the Defensive: While Thursday's victory wasn't pretty, there were a few solid defensive nuggets that could be pulled from the silt. The Arizona "D" forced a season-high 21 turnovers and collected a season-high 13 steals. Leading the way for Arizona were juniors Luke Walton (4) and Jason Gardner (3), who tallied seven pilfers between them.
Shooting Straight: Spurred on by solid second-half shooting, Arizona managed to post a .541 shooting percentage (33-of-61) Thursday vs. Washington. The Cats connected on 15-of-22 attempts (.682) in the second half, it's highest shooting percentage in any half this season. It marked the second time in three games that UA has shot 50 percent or better from the floor. The squad is 5-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
Lineup Change: Freshman Will Bynum made his ninth appearance in the starting lineup Thursday due to Salim Stoudamire's late arrival at shootaround. It was the second time that Arizona has employed the starting quintet of Luke Walton, Rick Anderson, Channing Frye, Jason Gardner and Bynum, and Arizona has won both contests (Illinois). UA has employed five different starting lineups to date this season.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,274 career points, which places him 18th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Frank Smith, who tallied 1,329 points from 1980-83. Incidentally, Gardner has 65 double-figure scoring games in his 91-game career.
Warming Up: Rick Anderson put forth three strong efforts recently after struggling in the two games prior to the Bay Area trip. The native of Long Beach, Calif., totaled 37 points, 28 rebounds and six assists in the team's last three wins and has hit 16-of-29 field goal attempts. In his last 10 games, Anderson is shooting .594 (41-of-69) from the field.
Feel the Burn: Sophomore Michael Schwertley made his first appearance of the season Thursday, and it was a pretty good one. The Phoenix native hit his only FG attempts and grabbed an offensive rebound in four minutes of action. Look for the forward to see a bit more time in the rotation in the next few games.
Scoring Balance: Thursday's win saw Arizona place five players in double figures for the second consecutive game and sixth time this season. The Wildcats are 6-0 when accomplishing the feat. All six occurrences have come in Pac-10 play.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 55-6 (.902) 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 10-3 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 (35.2), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (215), second in three-point FG attempts (584), eighth in steals (151), 10th in assists (414) and 10th in free throws (341). Gardner and Damon Stoudamire are the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point field goals.
Second half Surge: It is no surprise at this point of the season that Arizona is prone to slow starts, but its second half shooting performances in the last three games have been pretty impressive. In victories over Cal, Stanford and Washington, Arizona shot a combined 50-of-85 (.588) from the field after the halftime break and outscored those clubs 142-114 in that span.
Topping 20: Luke Walton notched his second straight 20-point game vs. Washington, finishing with a team-high 21 points. He has scored 20 points or more in four of the last seven games to completely reverse a career-long trend. Prior to Jan. 17, Walton had scored 20 or more points in just twice in the first 82 games of his collegiate career.
Starting Five: With one more start, Jason Gardner moves into a tie for 10th place on the school's all-time starts list. Currently, Gardner has 91 career starts, which is one shy of A.J. Bramlett (1995-99) and Damon Stoudamire (1991-95) in the 10th position.
On the Mark?: Credit UA's starting frontline with Thursday's win. The trio of Luke Walton, Rick Anderson and Channing Frye connected on 19-of-29 (.655) of its field goal attempts vs. Washington. In contrast, UA's guard rotation of Jason Gardner, Will Bynum and Salim Stoudamire went just 8-for-26 (.308). Maybe we'll call it even when you factor in the free throw shooting. The frontline hit 8-of-18 (.444) from the line, while the guards hit 11-of-15 (.733).
That Didn't Take Long: It's been a quick rise up the career three-point field goal percentage list for Salim Stoudamire. Three games after qualifying for the career top-10 with his 100th three-point attempt, the young Stoudamire looks as though he intends to stay there. By going 2-of-3 from behind the arc on Thursday, Stoudamire raised his three-point percentage to .434 (46-of-106), a figure that ranks second only to Steve Kerr's .573 (114-of-199) percentage.
A Presence: It didn't take long for Isaiah Fox to make a dent in the scoring column Thursday, as the freshman from Santa Monica, Calif., hit his first three shots from the floor in the first half. Fox equaled a season-high with four field goals and was a spotless 4-of-4 from the floor. In fact, his eight points scored vs. Washington equaled his offensive output in his four prior appearances.
Not Accepting Charity: Interestingly, free throw shooting proved to be the only negative for Arizona recently. In the last three gems, the Wildcats connected on only 48-of-85 (.565) of its free throw attempts. The current slump has caused UA's free throw shooting percentage to drop from .741 to .716.
Almost Average: It's easy to lose perspective when you make 39 straight free throws and lead the nation in free throw percentage, but since Salim Stoudamire hit his 39th free throw in a row at Arizona State on Jan. 23, he's been relatively average since. The freshman has connected on 10-of-his-last-13 free throw attempts (.769). That figure would rank third on the UA team.
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, Arizona embarks on its final road trip of the regular season with a pair of games in Los Angeles. Arizona takes on UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. PST and USC on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. PST.