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01-09-2008 Arizona State Game Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/09/2008
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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (6-9, 0-4 Pac-10 returns home and looks to end a current five-game skid on Saturday, Jan. 12 against archrival No. 25 Arizona State (10-5, 4-0 Pac-10) at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.? The Wildcats are also looking to snap their four-game losing streak to the Sun Devils in the intrastate series.

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Catch the Action:

As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Derrick Palmer and Shannon Hobson calling the action from courtside.? Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats and live video needs.

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Oregon Recap:

Arizona fought hard to overcome a slow start and nearly erased a 16-point second half deficit before falling to the Oregon Ducks, 59-53, on Saturday afternoon in McArthur Court.? Arizona played with a roster of seven players.

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As a team, Arizona shot 32.2 percent (19-59) from the field and outrebounded Oregon 44-39, but finished 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the free throw line.? Oregon finished the game with a 35.6 percent clip (21-59), as the Wildcats held the Ducks to a 21.4 percent mark (6-28) from the field in the second half.

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Individually for the Wildcats, senior Ashley Whisonant finished with a game-high 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and junior Amina Njonkou tallied her fifth double-double in the last six games (seventh of the season) with 11 points and 10 rebounds.? Junior Beatrice Bofia added a career-high 11 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

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Tamika Nurse led Oregon with 12 points.

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Arizona opened its first possession of the game with a three by freshman Tasha Dickey, but Oregon responded with nine-unanswered points to go up by six at the 16:52 mark.? The Wildcats started off the game shooting 3-of-15 from the field (20 percent), but were 3-for-3 from three-point range to trail 17-9 with 11:55 on the clock.? Oregon then took a 31-14 advantage after a 7-0 run capped by a layup by Taylor Lilley with 4:47 left in the first.?

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Arizona trailed 36-20 at halftime, shooting 7-of-28 (25 percent) from the field, while Oregon posted a 48.4 percent clip (15-31).

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The Ducks kept their lead at 40-24 in the second half after a layup by Nurse at the 16:29 mark, but Arizona rallied with a 15-3 run over the next nine minutes to cut the deficit to 43-39 with 7:29 left to play.? Arizona held Oregon without a field goal for a span of 9:21 in the second half before a three by Lilley put Oregon back up 46-39 at the 7:08 mark to end Arizonaˇ?s run.

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After trailing 50-41 at the 4:10 mark, the Wildcats kept things tight, cutting the deficit to 50-45 with 3:17 left after two baskets Bofia.? Arizona then cut the Oregon lead down to 52-49 with 2:12 left after a three-point play by Njonkou.? The Wildcats traded baskets with the Ducks down the stretch, and stayed close down 56-53 after a jumper in the paint by Bofia with 1:10 remaining in the game.? Arizona would get no closer than that, as the Ducks halted the Wildcatsˇ? comeback attempt at the free throw line.

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Sophomore Rheya Neabors returned to action in Saturdayˇ?s game against Oregon after missing Thursdayˇ?s game at Oregon State because of academic responsibilities.? Rhaya Neabors missed her second-straight game due to personal reasons.? Freshman Ify Ibekwe missed her sixth-straight game due to an eye injury, and senior Jessica Arnold missed her eighth-straight game due to a concussion.

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About the Sun Devils:

The Arizona State Sun Devils enter Saturdayˇ?s showdown with a 10-5 overall record and a perfect 4-0 mark in the Pac-10.? ASU is also ranked No. 25 in the coachesˇ? poll.? So far on the season, ASU is 2-2 on the road, and has won its last four-straight games.? As a team, ASU shoots 44.3 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three point range and 68.6 percent from the free throw line.? Individually for the Sun Devils, Lauren Lacey leads the squad with 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, and Briann January adds 11.0 points a game.? ? Head coach Charli Turner Thorne is in her 12th season at the helm of the Sun Devil program.

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Series Notes:

Saturdayˇ?s? game will be the 73rd meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Sun Devils on the hardwood, with ASU owning a 42-30 series advantage.? Last season, the Sun Devils beat Arizona 74-58, on Dec. 22, 2006 in Tempe, and 59-54 in McKale Center on Feb. 24.? Arizona is 19-16 against ASU under head coach Joan Bonvicini, but is 4-11 against the Sun Devils since the 2001 season, losing six of the last seven and the last four-straight games in the series.??? Interestingly enough, Arizonaˇ?s last four wins against the Sun Devils have all been in McKale Center, its last coming in 2005 (56-49).

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Be Proud:

No matter how it looked in the box score, those who witnessed Thursdayˇ?s game at Oregon State will tell you just how hard the Wildcats fought on the court.? With a squad of only six players, Arizona took it to the Beavers, leading by as many as 16 points for much of the game.? Despite letting its lead slip away, Arizona continued to fight with four players on the court for the final 1:28 of regulation and the first overtime to force a second overtime.? In double OT, the Wildcats still couldnˇ?t be put away easily.? Arizona even held a lead in the double overtime with just three players on the court.? Heart, determination, grit, and a never-say-die attitude kept the Wildcats alive when all odds were against them.

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Two days later against Oregon, the Wildcats nearly erased a 16-point second half deficit for a comeback victory against the Ducks.? This team is a true definition of what it is to ˇ?fight like Wildcats.ˇ±

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vs. Ranked Teams:

Arizona will face its second ranked team on the season when the Wildcats take on Arizona State Saturday afternoon.? Arizona lost to No. 20 Pittsburgh, 58-81, on Nov. 10 earlier in the season. Over the last three seasons, the Wildcats are 0-20 against ranked opponents, going 0-12 against ranked teams last year.

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On the Road Again:

Arizona is finally back home in McKale Center, and will begin a season-long three game home stand Saturday.? The Wildcats have been racking up those frequent flyer miles so far this season, playing nine of their first 15 games on the road.? With trips Oregon, Green Bay, Wis., Penn State, NC State, Long Beach, Calif., and New Mexico under their belts, the Wildcats have already racked up a grand total of 16,482 round trip miles (and it is only January).? Weˇ?ll keep you posted on when the Wildcats earn their free round trip to anywhere in the United States.

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Arizona Head Coach Joan Bonvicini (17th season):

The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 17 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.? Under Bonvicini's tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 11 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history.

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During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.? Bonvicini's success is mirrored in her players' accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 22 All-Pac-10 honorees, 17 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 18 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 283-212 (.572) mark at Arizona and is 608-283(.682) in 29 years as a head coach. On Feb. 8, 2007, Bonvicini became the 18th coach in NCAA Division I women's basketball history to reach the 600 win milestone with a 65-61 victory over Oregon State in McKale Center. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.

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Road Warriors:

With a wins against Long Beach State and New Mexico, the Wildcats managed to win two-straight road games for the first time since the 2004-05 season.? Arizona last won two-straight on the road in December of 2004 with wins at Chicago State and Washington.?

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Pit This:

Arizona went into New Mexicoˇ?s Pit and did something most visiting teams canˇ?t do: win.? The Wildcats snapped the Lobosˇ? 13-game home winning streak with their 44-36 win, as New Mexico was 7-0 on the season before Saturdayˇ?s game.

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Slow Starts:

Through 15 games, Arizona is getting outscored 506-424 by opponents in the first half, and is 3-8 when trailing at the half.? When leading at the half, Arizona is 3-1, as the Wildcats relinquished their first halftime lead against Oregon State last Thursday after being up by 12 at halftime and leading by as many as 16 points in the second half.? Arizona was down 36-20 to Oregon in its last game, but outscored the Ducks 33-23 in the second half.

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Almost History:

Arizonaˇ?s 44-36 win over New Mexico came very close to some intriguing historical proportions.? Arizonaˇ?s 44 points in the win was the programˇ?s lowest point total in a victory since beating Utah, 46-36, on Jan. 17 1974.? Arizonaˇ?s school low for a point total in a win is 36 in a win (36-30) over Northern Arizona on Feb. 10, 1973.

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Toe That Line:

So far, the Wildcats have shown an ability as a team to get to the free throw line.? Arizona has made it to the line 295 times (19.7 free throw attempts per game), but is only shooting 63.4 percent (187-295) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting 70.7 percent (193-273) from the line against the Cats.?

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Make Those Free Throws:

Free throw shooting has been a major factor in Arizonaˇ?s ability to win games.? In the Wildcatsˇ? loss against USC, Arizona shot 17-of-29 from the line (58.6 percent) against the Women of Troy, including a 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) mark in the second half.? Poor shooting from the line kept Arizona from making legitimate comeback attempt at the end of the game, as the Wildcats scored five-straight points in the final 22 seconds of the game to cut the deficit to seven points.? Against UCLA, Arizona shot 19-of-29 from the line (65.5 percent) against the Bruins, including an 11-of-18 mark (61.1 percent).? Even though the 19 free throws were the second most for the Wildcats on the season, not being able to hit free throws in the second half prevented another comeback attempt, as Arizona cut the deficit to six points with 33 seconds to play in the game.

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Despite playing with six players, and with four players down the stretch, Arizona could have held off an OSU comeback had it hit its shots at the line.? The Wildcats shot a season-low 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line against the Beavers, including a 3-of-7 mark in the first half, and a 3-of-8 mark in overtime.

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Against Oregon, Arizona was 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the charity stripe.

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Remove the Lid:

In the last three games, Arizona is shooting 58.8 percent (57-of-97) from the free throw line.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

Arizona can put on some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through 15 games, Arizona has forced 313 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 20.9 turnovers a game.? Arizona forced 22 turnovers on Oregon State, but committed a season-high 32 TOs on the other end.? Against Oregon, the Wildcats had 16 turnovers, as the Ducks finished with an opponent season low 14 turnovers.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 137 steals so far on the season for a 9.1 steals per game average.? Arizona ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in the steals department.

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Rejectmuch:

Last season, Arizona tallied 51 blocked shots the entire season.? This year, it is a different story.? The Wildcats have already surpassed last yearˇ?s total in 15 games with 53 blocks for a 3.5 blocks per game average.? Arizona ranks second in the Pac-10 in the blocks department behind Stanford.? A big reason for the complete 180 when it comes to blocks has to do with junior Beatrice Bofia and her 18 blocks shots so far this season.? Sophomore Marie McGee is second on the team with 10 blocked shots.

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Paint Job:

So far, Arizona has been doing a solid job scoring in the paint.? Through 15 games, the Wildcats have posted 531 points in the paint, which accounts for 54 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (983), and average 35.4 points per game down low.? In its last eight games, Arizona has outscored the opposition 279-200 in the paint, including a 56-44 advantage over Oregon State.

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AW Leads the Way:

Senior guard Ashley Whisonant has been counted on to lead at the point this season, and she has flourished in that position.? So far, Whisonant has played at an All-Pac-10 level.? The Bowie, Md., native is averaging a team-high 15.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game while snagging 1.9 steals a contest.? She is also averaging a team-high 37.5 minutes per contest.? Whisonant ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring average, third in assists per game, eighth in steals per game, and first in minutes per game.?

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Game of a Lifetime:

Ashley Whisonant showed why she is one of the best players in the Pac-10 last Thursday against the Beavers.? Whisonant led a team of just six players with a career-high 34 points in 48 minutes of action.? Her 34 points is the fourth-best mark in school history, one point shy of the all-time school record (35 points).? She tied a school record with 15 field goal attempts, and set a new school record with 29 field goal attempts.? She followed that performance up with 17 points and seven rebounds against Oregon.

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All-Time Scorer:?

Ashley Whisonant scored her 1,000th career point in the final game of the season last year, and look for her to climb up the Arizona all-time point leader list this season.? With 76 points in the first three games, Whisonant moved past Kim Conway (1,060 points, 1990-94) for the No. 13 spot on the all-time scoring list.? Now standing at 1,181 career points (104 games), Whisonantˇ?s eight points against New Mexico allowed her to pass Yolanda Turner (1984-87) in the No. 12 position, and passed former teammate Natalie Jones (1,149 points, 2003-06) for sole possession the No. 11 spot.? With 34 points against OSU, Whisonant passed Lisa Griffith (1,199 points, 1997-2000) for the No. 10 spot in school history.? With 17 points on Saturday against Oregon, Whisonant passed former Wildcat Amy Gryzb (1,227 points, 2000-04) for ninth all-time with 1,240 career points (108 games).? She needs 20 more points to tie Reshea Bristol (1998-2001, 1,260 points) for eighth all-time.

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Ms. 100:

Senior Ashley Whisonant has been a constant in the Arizona lineup ever since her freshman season, and she is one pace to be one of Arizonaˇ?s all-time leaders in games played.? She played in her 100th career game against NAU (Dec. 6), and is on pace to finish her career with 123 games played, a figure that will rank No. 3 all-time in school history.

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Looking For a Dime:

With each dime Ashley Whisonant dishes out, she is moving to the top of the line on Arizonaˇ?s all-time career assists list.? With 335 career assists, Whisonant is now the No. 10 assists disher in Arizona history.?

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Ms. Wildcat:

Freshman Tasha Dickey, simply put, was born to be a Wildcat.? The daughter of two former Arizona athletes, Dickey has shown her tremendous athletic ability on the court.? On the season, she is averaging 7.2 points and 1.9 rebounds a game in 22.1 minutes of action.? Dickey is also second on the squad with 23 steals.? Against UCLA, Dickey posted 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field, including a 2-of-3 mark from three point range in just 18 minutes of action, and finished with 12 points and three steals against Oregon State.? Against Oregon, Dickey posted eight points, including a 2-of-4 mark from three point land.

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Stepping Up her Game:

Sophomore Marie McGee is playing a more vital role in the Arizona lineup this season, as the Las Cruces, N.M., native has broken into the starting lineup.? Against Oregon State, McGee was all over the floor, doing the little things to help Arizona win.? She finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, three rebounds, three assists, a career-high three blocks and two steals.? On the season, McGee is averaging 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds a game in 22.7 minutes of action per contest.? As a starter, she is averaging 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds a game.

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Amina the Bull:

Junior forward Amina Njonkou is a force down low in the paint, and her strength allows her to bull over defenders.? The 6-foot-1 Cameroon native has posted double-figures in points in the last nine-straight games including double-doubles in the last five of the last six games.? Over the last nine contests, Njonkou is averaging 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds a game over that span.? In the last six games, Njonkou is posting 15.7 points and 10.7 rebounds a game.?

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Against NAU, she finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds and a career-best five steals.? Against Long Beach State, she had her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.? Versus Boise State, Njonkou finished with 10 points and three rebounds, and had 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds in a career-high 34 minutes of action against New Mexico.? Against UW-Green Bay, Njonkou posted a career-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds in a career-high 35 minutes of action, sinking a career-best eight free throws on 11 attempts. ?Against USC on Friday night, Njonkou finished with a career-best 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting and a season-high 12 rebounds.? She was also 8-of-10 from the free throw line. She then posted 12 points and 11 rebounds a game against UCLA on Sunday.

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Against OSU, Njonkou finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in 46 minutes of action, making a career-best eight field goals on 12 attempts.? She finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Oregon

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On the season, Njonkou is posting 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds a game while shooting 47.8 percent (65-136) from the field, the 10th-best mark in the Pac-10.

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Double-Double Machine:

Before her 17 point and nine rebound performance against Oregon State, Amina Njonkou had posted double-doubles four straight games, putting her in some very exclusive company in the Arizona history books.? Njonkou became the first player to record four-straight double-doubles since Shawntinice Polk posted five-straight double-doubles during the 2003-04 season (Feb. 7-19).? Njonkou has seven double-doubles so far on the season after finishing with 11 points and 10 boards against the Ducks.

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Queen B:

Junior Beatrice Bofia earned her first career start on Thursday and responded with a career night.? The 6-foot-7 center finished with her second double-double with career-highs of 10 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked shots in 45 minutes of action.? Her 18 rebounds were the fourth-most in school history, and her five blocks is the highest total for a Wildcat since 2004.? She followed that up with a career-high 11 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocks against Oregon.

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Cats Picked To Finish Eighth in the Pac-10:

The University of Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team was selected to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conferenceˇ?s head coaches.? The Wildcats garnered 31 points in the poll, as seven-time defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this yearˇ?s Pac-10 title.

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The Cardinal received eight of 10 first-place votes and 79 points, as Arizona State received a first-place nod and tallied 71 points to place second. California was tabbed to finish third with a first-place vote and 68 points, followed by fourth-place USC with 56 points and fifth-place UCLA with 44 points. Washington grabbed 41 points to place sixth, followed by Oregon (34), as Arizona (31), Oregon State (16) and Washington State (10) rounded out the poll.

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Tough Schedule:

Year in and year out, Arizona never runs away from a challenge, but rather takes on the best teams in the nation head on during the nonconference schedule before playing in the always daunting Pac-10 Conference.

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The Wildcats will play 29 games during 2007-08, 13 games in McKale Center and 16 on the road, with 14 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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The UA will take on 10 teams that competed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, with non-conference matchups against Middle Tennessee State, Pittsburgh, Boise State, New Mexico, NC State, and UW-Green Bay, along with Pac-10 series against California, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State.

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Rank This:

Arizonaˇ?s tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this yearˇ?s preseason rankings.? In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN and AP Preseason poll, five of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the regular season.? Arizona will face No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 California, No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 25 NC State.? Additionally, six other Arizona opponents (Middle Tennessee, USC, New Mexico, UCLA, Boise State and Wisconsin-Green Bay) each received votes in the poll.

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Up Next:

Arizona will continue its home stand by hosting Stanford on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

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