Jan. 27, 2009
Date: Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
Time: 6:30 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: Arizona (12-8, 2-5 Pac-10) closes the first half of Pac-10 Conference play and the remainder of a four-game homestand beginning Thursday against No. 23 Washington (15-4, 6-1 Pac-10) at McKale Center ... Perhaps the tempo in this game will be more to UA's liking as Washington leads the Pac-10 with a 78.9 points per game scoring average ... This season, the Wildcats are 7-1 when scoring 70 or more points ... Through 11 games at McKale Center, UA opponents are scoring 61.6 points per game, 3.3 points less than the 20-game averages ... Arizona is 1-2 against nationally ranked foes this season.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Jan. 26 edition of both polls. UA was out of the 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.
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 12-8 (.600) ... 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: A Nic Wise trey with 10 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime and propelled the Wildcats to a 96-90 win Saturday over Houston. Wise's heroics capped a 13-3 UA run in the last 52 seconds that saw Arizona tie the game before outscoring Houston, 8-2, in the extra period. Over the last 5:52, Arizona went 6-of-10 from the floor, while Houston was 0-of-12. Jordan Hill posted a career-high 30 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Cats to its biggest offensive output of the season and Wise chipped in 23 points of his own.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON: The Huskies enter tonight's contest with a 15-4 record (6-1 Pac-10) following Saturday's 86-75 home win over UCLA. UW has won four straight games and 13 of its last 14. On the season, Washington shoots 46.2 percent (531-of-1150) from the field, including 34.2 percent (81-of-237) from three-point range, outrebounds the opposition by a +10.7 per game margin, and outscores opponents by 12.1 points per game. Four Huskies average in double figures, led by Isaiah Thomas' 16.3 ppg clip. Jon Brockman leads the team with a 10.7 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game marks the 64th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 42-22 series advantage. Arizona has won five of the last nine in the series, but UW captured the last, a 75-66 triumph in Seattle on Feb. 21, 2008. All-time, Arizona is 23-6 in series games played in Tucson, 17-14 in Seattle, Wash., and 1-2 in neutral site games. See page 96 of the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Washington 75, Arizona 66, Feb. 21, 2008: Sloppy play and too much Washington depth proved to be Arizona's downfall as the Cats lost for the fourth time in the last five games. UA turned it over 17 times, including 10 in the first half, and shot just 38.9 percent from the field. Washington played nine players at least 13 minutes and eight of those scored at least five points apiece as the UW bench outscored UA's 23-3. Jerryd Bayless (22) and Jawann McClellan (19) combined for 41 points, but the remainder of the Wildcat offense was largely ineffective.
BIG NUMBERS: Jordan Hill helped Arizona to a split in a pair of games last week by averaging 23.0 points, 16.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots in those two games. In posting consecutive double-doubles, Hill shot .459 (17-of-37) from the field and .857 from the line (12-of-14) in 85 total minutes played. He opened the week by scoring 15 points to go with a game-high 15 rebounds, and three blocks in 40 minutes vs. No.17 Arizona State, and followed that up with a career-high 30 points (12-of-21 FGs/6-of-7 FTs), 18 boards and four blocked shots in the come-from-behind overtime win over Houston. He is the first Wildcat to post a 30-point game this season, and has grabbed 15 or more rebounds in a game five times this season. On the year, Hill is averaging 18.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while shooting .545 from the field.
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY: It took extra time to do it, but Arizona posted a 96-90 overtime win Saturday over Houston. In order to do so, the Wildcats rallied from a 10-point deficit with 52 seconds remaining to force overtime, and outscored Houston, 8-2, in the extra session. It was Arizona's 12th win of the season and the club's first overtime game this year.
FINISHING STRONG: In order to claim Saturday's victory, Arizona outscored Houston, 18-5, over the game's final 5:52. In that span, Arizona went 6-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc, and 6-of-7 from the line, while the visiting Cougars went 0-of-12 from the field and 5-of-10 from the line to go with one turnover. In the final 52 seconds of regulation, Arizona made all five field goal attempts, including three three-point field goals - the last of which came from Nic Wise with 10 seconds to go.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: For a team averaging 69.8 points per game, Saturday's 96-point outburst was quite a shot in the arm. Just how much of a boost? The Wildcats tallied 55 points in the second half of Saturday's win, which was eight points more than the team scored in Wednesday's loss to Arizona State. Incidentally, not only was the 96 points a season-high, but it marked the first time Arizona has scored 90 or more points since Nov. 28, 2007, in a 91-65 win over Cal State Fullerton.
MEMORABLE COMEBACKS: It's not often that a team erases a 10-point deficit in less than a minute, and exceedingly rare for a program that has won 75 percent of its games over the last 26 seasons. But with the help of the Wildcat Radio Network crew of Brian Jeffries and Ryan Hansen, two games were identified that fit the bill. On March 2, 1995, Arizona trailed at Washington State, 87-77, with 1:18 to go in regulation before rallying to tie the game at 91 in regulation and eventually winning, 114-111, in double overtime. On Jan. 5, 1985, Arizona trailed at Arizona State, 58-51, with 54 seconds remaining before outscoring the Sun Devils 10-2 to close the game and earn a 61-60 win.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS: As rare as 10-point comebacks in less than a minute might be, how's this for quirky? Three days after scoring 47 points in a loss to Arizona State, Arizona rebounded to more than double its point total in Saturday's victory. The last time that happened came on Dec. 18 and 21, 2004. UA won at Marquette, 48-43, on Dec.18 and followed that with a 105-75 home win over Manhattan.
A MAN AMONG MEN: Jordan Hill continues to play like one of the best big men in the country, as he poured in a career-high 30 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in Saturday's win. The 6-foot-10 junior forward from Atlanta, Ga., became the first Wildcat player to score 30 or more points in a game this season. Additionally, he posted double-doubles in both games this week, raising his Pac-10-leading total to 13 this season. On the year, Hill is averaging 18.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while shooting .545 from the field.
DON'T LET THE SIZE FOOL YOU: One of the smallest players on the court Saturday certainly played big, as Nic Wise equaled a career high with 23 points to go with three rebounds and two assists. The 5-foot-10 native of Houston, Texas, knocked down a career-best five treys en route to those 23 points, including the game-tying trey with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. Twenty of Wise's 23 points came in the second half, the best second-half effort for a UA player this year. On the season, he averages 13.2 points and 4.6 assists per game, while shooting .400 (34-of-85) from three-point range.
STEPPING UP: Almost overlooked in Saturday's win was the efforts of freshman Kyle Fogg, who equaled a career-high 14 points - his third double-figure scoring game of the season. The 6-foot-2 native of Brea, Calif., knocked down 4-of-6 three-point field goals in 22 minutes played. Interestingly, those four treys were more than his season total. Entering Saturday's game vs. Houston, Fogg was 3-of-17 from behind the arc. He's averaging 5.3 points per game this season in 20 appearances (12 starts) for the Wildcats.
COVERING ALL CATEGORIES: Forward Chase Budinger put forth a well-rounded effort vs. Houston, totaling 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes played. Of those nine boards, five were offensive. On the season, the 6-foot-7 junior from Encinitas, Calif., is averaging 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
HOLD `EM DOWN: Arizona held Houston to just 36.1 percent shooting (30-of-83) from the field in Saturday's win, including 0-of-10 in overtime. It marked the sixth time this season that the Wildcats have held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. Through 20 games, UA opponents have a .415 field goal percentage, a figure that is fourth-best among Pac-10 schools.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Three-point shooting weighed heavily on Saturday's outcome, as Arizona outscored Houston, 33-21, from behind the arc. Led by Nic Wise (5-of-7) and Kyle Fogg (4-of-6), UA shot .440 from long range (11-of-25), while UH made just 7-of-33 (.212). The trey has been an interesting point of contention this season, as UA opponents are making an average of two more treys per game (7.1-5.2), but are attempting (22.4-14.1) eight more shots per game. Arizona is outshooting its opponents from behind the arc (.370-.315), and UA's three-point FG percentage defense (.315) ranks fourth in the Pac-10.
CONTROLLING THE BOARDS: Led by Jordan Hill's game-high 18 rebounds, Arizona owned a 53-45 rebound advantage on Saturday. The Wildcats have outrebounded 13 of 20 opponents to date, and the club's +4.5 rebound margin is third-best in the league. The glass will play a pivotal role in tonight's game, as Washington leads the Pac-10 with a +10.7 rebound margin and has outrebounded 17 of 19 foes this season. Incidentally, the last time Arizona grabbed 50 or more rebounds in a single game came on Dec. 17, 2006, when the Cats collected 58 caroms in an 87-62 win over Houston.
IN RESERVE: Sophomore forward Jamelle Horne came off the bench Saturday to post five points, five rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes vs. Houston. Those four assists equaled a career high for the 6-foot-6 native of San Diego, Calif. Horne's efforts helped Arizona hold a 25-10 bench-points advantage in the overtime win.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored a season-high 96 points against Houston, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fourth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 174-19 (.902) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 4-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
UP NEXT: Saturday's game is the first of two regular season appearances on CBS-TV, when Arizona hosts Washington State. Tip-off on Saturday, Jan. 31 is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST.