Dec. 29, 2001
Date: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2001 Time: 2 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. 14 Arizona (7-3, 1-1 Pac-10) looks to win its 16th Fiesta Bowl Classic championship in 17 tries Sunday vs. Valparaiso (10-3, 0-0 MCC) ... Meaningful games are nothing new to either program, as the Wildcats and Crusaders have combined to win 74.5 percent of its games and advance to 11 NCAA Tournaments since the start of the 1995-96 season ... The Cats are 32-1 all-time in Fiesta Bowl Classic play ... Friday evening's official attendance of 14,566 set a Fiesta Bowl Classic single-session record ... Arizona is averaging 95.5 points at home this season.
The Rankings: After a split in Oregon last week, Arizona fell to No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and to No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 242 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 646-228 (.739) and 454-136 (.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 (251) 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 272-27 (.910) in McKale Center and have won 200 of its last 212 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 1-0 vs. Valpo.
Last Time Out: The freshman duo of Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye combined for 43 points and 14 rebounds as the Wildcats raced to an easy 94-71 win Friday in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic, honoring Bobbi Olson. The pair combined to hit 16-of-24 shots from the floor in leading the Cats to a season-best .540 FG percentage, while holding the Waves to just .356 accuracy. All told, Arizona connected on 34-of-63 attempts from the floor and built as much of a lead as 33 points, its largest of the season.
Scouting Valparaiso: The Crusaders earned its berth in today's Fiesta Bowl Classic championship game with a commanding 76-57 win over West Virginia on Friday. Five Valpo players finished in double figures, as the squad showed solid offensive balance. VU's defense wasn't bad either, as the team held West Virginia to just 37 percent shooting in the second half and forced 21 Mountaineer turnovers. Valparaiso broke open the game with a 19-2 run to open the second half. Milo Stovall, one of four VU players on the team to average in double figures, led all scorers with 20 points.
The Series: Today's game marks the second meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 1-0 series advantage. The Wildcats won the only previous meeting, 90-51, on March 15 in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament in Tempe, Ariz. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Valparaiso, and 1-0 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Arizona 90, Valparaiso 51, March 15, 1996. Led by Michael Dickerson's game-high 22 points, Arizona jumped out to a 51-15 halftime lead in rolling to the 39-point win in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Arizona shot 59.6 percent from the floor (37-of-62), held a 37-25 rebound advantage and limited the Crusaders to just .352 shooting (19-of-54) in its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
No. 300: Sunday's game marks Lute Olson's 300th game as head coach at McKale Center. Since coming to Tucson on March 29, 1983, Olson has a record of 272-27 (.910) in McKale and has won 200 of his last 212 home games.
In-Season Tournaments: In addition to its 32-1 record in Fiesta Bowl Classic play, Arizona has an all-time record of 103-51(.669) in in-season tournaments. Under Lute Olson, the Cats are 75-11 (.873) and have won at least one in-season tournament in each of the last 17 years. This year, Arizona is 5-0 when playing in regular-season tournaments.
Comfortable at Home: The confines of McKale Center must be friendly, as the Wildcats are averaging 95.5 points in two home games this season. That figure is 15.2 ppg higher than its season average (80.2). In those two games, UA is shooting .404 (23-of-57) from three-point range.
Jumping Out Early: Assisted by 53.1 percent shooting in the first half vs. Pepperdine, Arizona was able to amass a season-best 51 first-half points on Friday and led by 14 at the break. The Cats held the Waves to just 30 percent shooting in that first half, the second lowest opponent first half figure of the year, to boost the team's record to 5-0 when leading at the half. Additionally, Friday's 23-point win was the largest of the year.
Getting Defensive: The UA defense held Pepperdine to .356 shooting (31-of-87), an opponent low this season. Included in the effort was another season low: Pepperdine's .154 shooting (4-of-26) from three-point range. On the season, Arizona is 5-0 when outshooting the opposition.
More of the Same, Please: Arizona was able to shoot better than 50 percent from the field for just the second time this season (Purdue) in Friday's win over Pepperdine. In fact, its .540 (34-of-63) FG percentage was the best of the season. The Wildcats have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in just six halves this season.
Assisting the Cause: Led by Jason Gardner's season-high seven assists, Arizona collected a season-best 22 assists vs. Pepperdine. Good ball movement is always a plus...Arizona tallied 13 assists on 17 first-half field goals. Freshman Will Bynum also equaled a season high with four assists in the contest. It also marked the first time UA collected 20 or more assists in a game this year. Incidentally, Arizona is 29-5 in Gardner's career when he collects at least five assists in a game.
Controlling the Glass: Arizona's 44-39 rebound advantage Friday equaled the team's third-best margin of the year. The Wildcats are 6-0 this season when outrebounding the opposition.
Post Exchange: The freshman post rotation of Channing Frye, Isaiah Fox, Dennis Latimore and Andrew Zahn certainly made its presence felt in Friday's win. The quartet combined to score 31 points on 12 -of-23 shooting (.522) and add 21 of the team's 44 rebounds.
A Top-10 Performer: Junior Jason Gardner enters play Sunday just four steals shy of 10th place on the school's all-time steals list. Through 80 career games, Gardner has 132 thefts, four behind former backcourt mate Gilbert Arenas, who totaled 136 from 1999-2001.
On A Roll: Freshman center Channing Frye continues to play exceptionally well, as he posted his second double-double in the last three games with an 18-point, 10-rebound, five-block performance vs. Pepperdine. Over his last three games, the Phoenix native is averaging 18.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, while shooting .600 (18-of-30) from the floor.
In December: Arizona is 105-35 (.750) under Lute Olson in December, including a 65-18 (.783) mark since the 1990-91 season.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 48-4 (.923) 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. UA has scored at least 80 points 22 times in Fiesta Bowl Classic history.
On Target: Guard Salim Stoudamire played his best game of the year on Friday, totaling a season-best 25 points and four rebounds, while adding two assists and two steals in 32 minutes. Stoudamire's .692 (9-of-13) field goal percentage was a UA high this year.
Behind the Arc: The starting backcourt combination of Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire was certainly accurate in the win over the Waves, combining to shoot 13-of-19 (.684) from the floor. More impressively, however, was the duo's accuracy from three-point range. Gardner and Stoudamire were a combined 9-of-15 (.600) from behind the arc. Gardner's 4-of-6 effort Friday was a season-best three-point FG percentage.
Quietly Consistent: Junior forward Rick Anderson continues to be a model of consistency. Never overly flashy, Anderson ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg), field goal percentage (.486) and blocked shots (10). He also shares the team lead with 10 consecutive games in double figures this season. Dating back to the 1999-2000 season (he redshirted in 2000-01), Anderson is actually riding an 11-game double-figure streak, the longest active streak on the club.
Mr. Rebound: Freshman Dennis Latimore grabbed eight rebounds Friday (his second-highest total of the year) vs. Pepperdine in just 18 minutes of action. He currently averages 3.5 rebounds per game in 12.3 minutes. That corresponds to an 11.4 rebounds per game average if he played 40 minutes.
Almost Perfect: Redshirt freshman Andrew Zahn missed his second field goal attempt of the game with Pepperdine to snap a string of four consecutive makes this season. He still carries a respectable .800 FG percentage for the year, though. The center from Redondo Beach, Calif., averages 1.3 points in just 4.3 minutes per game.
Clearing the Bench: Senior reserve Peter Hansen saw his first action of the season Friday, logging one minute vs. Pepperdine. In fact, it was Hansen's first appearance for the Cats on the hardwood since March 16, 2000, vs. Jackson State in the NCAA Tournament. Hansen's appearance means that only one eligible player has yet to see action this year...walk-on Fil Torres.
Roll Call: With Valparaiso's appearance in the 17th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic, the state of Indiana moves into third place in terms of teams represented in the Fiesta Bowl Classic (not counting Arizona). The Crusaders are the fourth team from the Hoosier State to make an appearance in the event, joining Purdue, Evansville and Butler. Pennsylvania (8) and North Carolina (5) lead the way in filling the Classic field.
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: The Cats stay at home and return to Pacific-10 Conference play next week, as the Oregon schools come to town. UA hosts Oregon on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 6:30 p.m. MST, and Oregon State on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. MST.