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Men's Basketball Game Notes: Nov. 18, 2008
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/18/2008
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 18, 2008

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Date: Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008

Time: 9:30 p.m. MST

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.

Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch/Len Elmore)

GAME DATA: Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10) hosts UAB (2-0, 0-0 C-USA) Tuesday in McKale Center in the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off ... The winner heads to New York City for the finals and the loser heads to a yet-to-be determined consolation site ... Florida Atlantic and Santa Clara meet in the day's first game at 6:30 p.m. ... All-time, Arizona is 16-2 in Preseason N.I.T. action ... Should the Cats prevail tonight, the program will earn its fifth appearance in the Preseason N.I.T. finals, which would equal the most in tournament history.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona is unranked in both polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign. The Wildcats are receiving votes in both polls: 11 (T41st) in the Associated Press Top 25 and 18 (34th) in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll.

ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach with a career record of 1-0 (1.000) ... He assumed the interim coaching responsibilities on Oct. 24 in the wake of Lute Olson's retirement a day earlier ... Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area ... He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season ... Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 ... While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 (.498) record that included one NCAA Tournament berth (2003) and three trips to the N.I.T. ... Prior to his tenure in Tempe, Ariz., Pennell served on Evans' staff at the University of Mississippi for six seasons (1992-98), where the Rebels went 86-81 (.515) and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998 ... In those two seasons, Mississippi won the Southeastern Conference West Division championship and won at least 20 games ... It was the first time the program had posted consecutive 20-win seasons in 60 years ... Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton ... During the 1990-91 campaign, the Cowboys shared the Big Eight Conference championship with a 24-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament ... The following year, OSU posted a 28-8 record, and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in both of Pennell's seasons in Stillwater ... Pennell, 47, earned a degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and received his master's in P.E. from PSU in 1990 ... He is assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.

LAST TIME OUT: Paced by four players in double figures, Arizona outlasted Florida Atlantic, 75-62, Monday in the first round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Chase Budinger got the Cats off to a good start with 15 first-half points, Jordan Hill added a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards, but it may have been Nic Wise that proved to be the difference, as the junior rolled to 19 points, nine assists and no turnovers in 37 minutes played. UA limited FAU to just 33 percent shooting in the second half.

SCOUTING UAB: The Blazers enter tonight's contest with a 2-0 record following yesterday's 64-61 win over Santa Clara. Robert Vaden and Paul Delaney III each topped the 20-point plateau and combined for 67 percent (43 of 64) of UAB's scoring. The Blazers posted a 31-26 rebound advantage vs. Santa Clara and held the Broncos to just 37 percent shooting in the second half. As a team, UAB shoots 45.4 percent (49-of-108) from the field and carries a +5 rebound advantage. Delaney III leads the Blazers with a 22.0 ppg scoring average.

THE SERIES: This is the second meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 1-0 series advantage. The only previous meeting was an 85-63 UA win on March 19, 2005 in the second round of the NCAA Chicago Regional in Boise, Idaho. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Birmingham, Ala., and 1-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 91 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 85, UAB 63, March 19, 2005: A solid effort on one end of the court balanced by better than 50 percent shooting on the other enabled Arizona to defeat UAB in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UA limited the Blazers to just 27.3 percent shooting (9-of-33) in the second half and shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) themselves in outscoring UAB 45-32 after the break in the 22-point win. Salim Stoudamire poured in 28 points, while Hassan Adams added 16 points and 10 boards.

AGAINST CONFERENCE USA: Arizona has a 76-41 (.650) record against current Conference USA members. Last season, UA split a pair of games against C-USA foes, losing 76-63 at Memphis on Dec. 29 and defeating Houston, 85-71, on Jan. 12.

MEMORIES OF BIRMINGHAM: While Arizona and UAB have never met in Birmingham, Ala., the Wildcats certainly have fond memories of the city. In one of the most memorable weekends in program history, UA defeated Kansas (85-82) and Providence (95-92 ot) in the Southeast Regional on March 21-23 en route to the 1997 NCAA Championship. Those games were played at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, which served as UAB home facility from 1978-88.

IN NOVEMBER: Fast starts have become the norm for the Cats. Over the last 25-plus seasons, Arizona is 62-17 (.785) in the month of November. The numbers are even more impressive considering the quality of competition, as 27 of 79 opponents (34.1 percent) were nationally ranked. In those contests, Arizona is 18-9 (.667). UA will play four more times in November this season.

PRESEASON N.I.T. HISTORY: As mentioned earlier, Arizona has a 16-2 record when playing in the Preseason N.I.T. In tournament annals, Arizona's five previous appearances and three championships are tied for the all-time lead, while the .889 winning percentage ranks third, the 16 wins ranks fourth, and the 18 games played ranks fourth. UA's 15-game win streak in the event, which ended in the 2004 championship game loss to Wake Forest, is a tournament record. Here is a look at Arizona's participation: Nov. 21, 1986: UNLV 92, Arizona 87 (Las Vegas, Nev.) Nov. 14, 1990: Arizona 122, Austin Peay 80 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 16, 1990: Arizona 88, East Tennessee State 79 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 21, 1990: Arizona 91, Notre Dame 61 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 23, 1990: Arizona 89, Arkansas 77 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 15, 1995: Arizona 91, Long Beach State 57 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 17, 1995: Arizona 83, Arkansas 73 (Fayetteville, Ark.) Nov. 22, 1995: Arizona 86, Michigan 79 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 24, 1995: Arizona 91, Georgetown 81 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 16, 1999: Arizona 88, Kansas State 69 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 19, 1999: Arizona 84, New Mexico State 60 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 24, 1999: Arizona 76, Notre Dame 60 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 26, 1999: Arizona 63, Kentucky 51 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 16, 2004: Arizona 80, San Diego 69 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 18, 2004: Arizona 83, Wright State 66 (Tucson, Ariz.) Nov. 24, 2004: Arizona 61, Michigan 60, overtime (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 26, 2004: Wake Forest 63, Arizona 60 (New York, N.Y.) Nov. 17, 2008: Arizona 75, Florida Atlantic 62 (Tucson, Ariz.)

FINDING THE TARGET: Bolstered by 57.1 percent shooting (16-of-28) in the first half yesterday, Arizona shot 50 percent (27-of-54) from the field against Florida Atlantic. Counting the two exhibition games, Arizona has shot 50 percent or better in three straight games, a cumulative 89-of-170/.524. To compare, last season Arizona was 13-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

BACKCOURT BEAUTY: UA interim head coach Russ Pennell primarily used a three-guard rotation of Nic Wise, Garland Judkins and Kyle Fogg to good use in the win over Florida Atlantic. The trio helped Arizona post a 19:8 assist:turnover ratio, while they combined for 32 points, nine assists and just one miscue in 76 total minutes.

MORE ON NIC: Nic Wise posted career-high totals of 19 points and nine assists on Monday. The 5-foot-10, 177-pound, guard from Houston, Texas, also matched career bests with three treys in five attempts. In his 50-game career, Wise has had three games to his credit with more than 20 minutes played and zero turnovers.

MORE OF THE SAME, PLEASE: Junior forward Jordan Hill notched his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds vs. Florida Atlantic, which was the 12 double-double of his career. For good measure, the 6-foot-10 native of Atlanta, Ga., added three blocks and an assist. Hill moved into a tie for eighth place with Hassan Adams on the UA career blocked shots list with 85.

ACCORDING TO PLAN: When looking at the boxscore from Monday's win, things went, pretty much, according to plan for the Wildcats. Arizona's four top scorers (Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Nic Wise and Jamelle Horne) combined for 62 points. The bench contributed 13 points, which, coincidentally, equaled the final margin. Exactly which of UA's reserves was going to step up and contribute has been one of the prevailing questions of the preseason.

A GOOD START: Jamelle Horne notched the third double-figure scoring game of his career Monday with 10 points. The sophomore forward knocked down five of a career-best 10 attempts vs. Florida Atlantic to reach double figures for the first time since Nov. 28, 2007, when he tallied 12 points against Cal State Fullerton. Horne also passed out a career-high four assists Monday night.

DONE WITH DEFENSE: Arizona allowed FAU to shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half of Monday's game, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. But the Cats clamped down in the second, limiting the Owls to just 10-of-30 shooting (.333) in the second, including 0-of-10 from behind the arc.

MOVING UP: With the 2008-09 National Basketball Association regular season underway, no fewer than nine former Arizona Wildcats were on the opening day NBA rosters. That figure ranks sixth nationally (see chart at right). Here is the complete list: Hassan Adams, Toronto Raptors; Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards; Jerryd Bayless, Portland TrailBlazers; Mike Bibby, Atlanta Hawks; Channing Frye, Portland TrailBlazers; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers; Richard Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks; Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks; and Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. There have been at least eight former Wildcats in the NBA in each of the last nine seasons with 10 or more in six of those campaigns. Furthermore, four more former Cats are on NBA D-League rosters.

MORE UA CONNECTIONS TO THE LEAGUE: Arizona's nine former players in the Association helped the Pac-10 Conference tally 46 active NBA players, a figure that ranked third nationally. The Pac-10 was one of only three conferences (Big East and Big 12) to have each member school produce at least one NBA player. Additionally, the Pac-10's average of 4.6 alums per institution was second only to the Atlantic Coast Conference (4.8). Here is a look at the breakdown by conference: 1. Atlantic Coast, 58; 2. Big East, 49; 3. Pac-10, 46; 4. Big 12, 41; 5. Southeastern, 38; 6. Big Ten, 37.

PAC-10 PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in this season's Pac-10 race. The Wildcats received 241 points (see chart at left), trailing UCLA, Arizona State and USC. It's the second consecutive year in which UA was selected fourth.

UP NEXT: With a win, Arizona will advance to the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off finals, Nov. 26-28, in New York City. A loss sends the Cats to the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation rounds at a site to be determined, Nov. 24-25.

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