Game 9: No. 10 Arizona (7-1) vs. Houston (4-2)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 10 Arizona (7-1, 0-0 Pac-10) returns to McKale Center for the first time in three weeks to host Houston (4-2, 0-0 C-USA) Sunday night ... Tonight’s game is the third of five Sunday games during the regular season ... Arizona will be at home for the rest of the month, hosting four games in that span ... Wildcat opponents are averaging 63.4 points per game over the last five games ... UA leads the Pac-10 in team field goal percentage at 50.3 percent (240-of-477).
The Rankings: Following a pair of wins last week, Arizona rose four spots in both polls to No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and to No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Wildcats have been ranked in each poll to date this season.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 768-270 (.740) and 576-178 (.764) 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 750th collegiate victory on Dec. 31, 2005, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (316) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.771/316-94) 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 24-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 22 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 second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 337-35 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 265 of its last 284 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 2-2 against Houston.
Last Time Out: Marcus Williams scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Arizona to its seventh straight win Saturday in a 69-48 decision at San Diego State. Williams’ effort nearly overshadowed what may have been the Wildcats’ best defensive effort of the year in which it limited SDSU to 32.8 percent shooting, forced 14 turnovers, posted a 43-34 rebound advantage and held the Aztecs to 31 fewer points than its season scoring average entering the game.
Scouting Houston: The Cougars (4-2, 0-0 C-USA) get back in action following a 13-day layoff following a 102-84 loss at Virginia Commonwealth on Dec. 2. As a team, UH averages 91.7 points per game, shoots 41.6 percent (189-of-454) from the field and averages 12.1 made three-point field goals per game. Five Cougars average in double figures, led by Robert McKiver’s 24.3 points per game figure. Robert Lee leads the club with an 8.7 rebounds per game mark.
The Series: Tonight’s game marks the ninth meeting of the two schools with Houston holding a 5-3 series advantage. Arizona has won two of the last three meetings, but Houston claimed a 69-65 win on Dec. 3, 2005, in the last meeting. All-time, Arizona is 2-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-4 in Houston and 0-0 in neutral site games. See page 100 of the UA media guide for more series information.
The Last Meeting: Houston 69, Arizona 65, Dec. 3, 2005: In a game that had as many ups and downs as a roller coaster, ultimately it was Houston that was smiling at the end of a four-point decision. UA missed 16 of its first 17 shots and fell behind by as many as 18 points early, before it used a 21-5 run to close the gap to just two at the break. The Cougars quickly pushed the lead back to 15 in the second before UA mounted a comeback and trimmed the deficit to three in the final seconds of play.
Against Conference USA: All time, Arizona is 73-40 (.646) against the schools that currently make up Conference USA. UA has played at least one C-USA opponent in each year since 2002-03 and is 5-1 against the league in that span.
Team of the Week: ESPN’s Dick Vitale named Arizona as his team of the week following wins over Louisville and San Diego State. Vitale quipped, “The Wildcats went away from the friendly confines of Tucson to score a pair of big W’s. First Arizona went to the Jimmy V Classic and knocked off Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad. The ?'Cats also enjoyed an impressive showing against one of the top teams in the Mountain West, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs. In fact, that game was blowout city.”
Bouncing Back: In helping Arizona to its sixth and seventh consecutive wins in a pair of games away from home, Marcus Williams averaged 13.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, while shooting 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from the field. Williams also collected three blocks and a pair of steals as Arizona improved to 7-0. Williams rebounded from a five-point, three-rebound, one-block performance in Tuesday’s win over Louisville with a 21-point, career-best 16-rebound effort on Saturday at San Diego State. He hit 10-of-16 shots from the floor and added two blocks and two steals and was the first double-double of his career. Williams’ rebound total was the fourth-highest total in the Pac-10 this season and the most for an Arizona player since Dec. 2004. On the season, Williams is averaging 16.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Streaking: After a season-opening loss at Virginia on Nov. 12, Arizona has rebounded to win seven consecutive games. All of the wins have been by seven points or more, and during the streak Arizona has outscored the opposition by an average of 17.1 points per game.
Cooler at Both Ends: After averaging better than 90 points per game through its first six games, the Wildcats have cooled a bit offensively in the last week, averaging just 71.5 points per game. In that same span, Arizona has allowed only 57.5 points per game.
Leveling Off: While the UA offense may be plateauing of late, the Arizona defense has shown definite signs of improvement. Over the last three games, Arizona has limited Illinois, Louisville and San Diego State to an average of 61.7 points per game. Additionally, those three teams have combined to shoot just 40.4 percent (78-of-193) from the floor, including 26.9 percent (18-of-67) from three-point range. Incidentally, UA held San Diego State to a season-low 48 points in Saturday’s win, a figure that was 31.3 points below its season scoring average entering the game.
A Red-Letter Day: With a 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds Saturday, sophomore forward Marcus Williams collected the first double-double of his career. It marked the fifth double-double for Arizona this season. The Wildcats have had a player notch a double-double in three of the last four games. For balance, UA’s five double-doubles this year have been accomplished by four different players.
out of the gate: Arizona continues to get off to good starts through eight games, averaging 44.5 points per game and a +12.0 scoring margin in the first half this year. The Cats have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in six of eight games to date. In Saturday’s win at San Diego State, Arizona limited the Aztecs to just 22 points and 27.8 percent (10-of-36) shooting. UA’s 16-point halftime lead Saturday was Arizona’s second-largest halftime advantage of the year.
Rebound advantage: The Wildcats posted a 43-34 rebound advantage in Saturday’s victory over San Diego State, marking the fifth time this season that Arizona has outrebounded the opposition. On the season, Arizona posts a +6.5 rebound margin. The club is 5-0 this year when outrebounding the opposition.
Strong on D: Marcus Williams’ efforts haven’t been limited to the offensive end, where he is averaging 17.8 points per game over his last four starts. In that same span, the 6-foot-7 forward has 31 rebounds (7.8 rpg), nine steals and six blocked shots. He now leads the team with nine blocked shots on the season and ranks second on the team with 12 steals.
Bench Superiority: The Arizona bench outscored the SDSU bench 9-7 Saturday to mark just the second time this season that the UA reserves have outscored the opposing bench (22-10 vs. Samford on Nov. 22). On the year, the UA bench has been outscored 146-76, or by an average of 18.3-9.5 points per game.
Point Taken: Senior Mustafa Shakur tallied 14 points, a season-high eight rebounds, five assists and two steals Saturday at San Diego State. The five assists have proven to be a key barometer for Arizona as the Wildcats are 48-11 (.814) during Shakur’s career when he passes out five or more assists in a game. Shakur has five or more assists in all eight games this season. Through eight games, the 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game to go with a 2.44 assist:turnover ratio.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 155-19 (.891) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 5-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points, a feat that has happened in six of seven games this year.
Always On the Run: Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity. Here are the ones of note to date:
25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)
34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)
28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)
20-2 run over 5:59 vs. Louisville, Dec. 5 (UL went 1-of-10; UA 7-of-8 during the run)
21-4 run over 8:08 vs. Illinois, Dec. 2, 2006 (UA 8-of-12 FGs during run)
24-8 run over 9:17 at San Diego State, Dec. 9, 2006 (SDSU 4-of-18 FG with five TO during run)
18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)
23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)
Preseason Prognostications: According to media members that regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish second in this year’s Pac-10 race. Arizona received 13 first-place votes and 280 points overall and trailed only UCLA in the poll. It is the firs time in five seasons that Arizona has not been selected as the preseason team to beat. Incidentally, the Cats have been the preseason favorite in 11 of the last 17 seasons.
Preseason Kudos: Mustafa Shakur and Marcus Williams were named to the 2006-07 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America team, the award’s national selection committee announced Oct. 17. Shakur, a 6-foot-3, senior guard from Philadelphia, and Williams, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward from Philadelphia, are among 50 student-athletes on the list. Arizona is one of only nine schools nationally to have two or more players on the list.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Arizona will next be in action on Wednesday, Dec. 20, when it hosts Memphis in the Chase Fiesta Bowl Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST and can be seen on Fox Sports Net.