Dec. 11, 2001
Date: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2001 Time: 2 p.m. EST Location: Jack Breslin Student Events Center (14,759), East Lansing, Mich. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist/Billy Packer)
Game Data: No. 6 Arizona (5-1, 0-0 Pac-10) completes its three-game Big Ten road swing at No. 23 Michigan State (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten) in East Lansing, Mich. ... It is UA's sixth game away from home this season ... Arizona is 26-24 (.520) all-time vs. Big Ten Conference opponents and has won 12 of the last 17 against the Big Ten, including a 5-2 mark since the start of last season ... The young guys will be key as Michigan State's freshmen contribute 39.1 percent of its offense, while Arizona's are responsible for 37.8 percent.
The Rankings: After a pair of wins last week, Arizona rose to No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and to No. 7 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 240 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 644-226 (.740) and 452-134 (.771) 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 (250) 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 271-27 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 199 of its last 211 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 10-11 vs. Michigan State.
Last Time Out: Arizona shot a season-best .538 from the floor and outrebounded Purdue, 49-28, en route to the 76-66 win last Saturday at the eighth annual John R. Wooden Classic. The Wildcats, who limited the Boilers to just .303 shooting in the first half, used a 16-1 run early in the game to take control and led by as many as 24 points. Luke Walton posted his third double-double of the year (17 pts./13 reb.) and shared team-high honors with Rick Anderson.
Scouting Michigan State: The Spartans enter play on Saturday with a 5-3 record after a 92-38 win over Nicholls State on Dec. 9. All five of the MSU victories this season have come in the Breslin Center, stretching its homecourt winning streak to 49 games . Once again, Michigan State is dominating the glass, posting a +9.7 rebound margin to date. The Spartans average 73.2 points per game, but have been solid defensively in limiting the opposition to 63.5 points and a 36.0 cumulative FG percentage. Individually, Marcus Taylor leads the team with a 14.4 points per game average.
The Series: Today's game marks the fifth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 4-0 series advantage. The two teams met last season on March 31 in the National Semifinal in Minneapolis and the Wildcats pulled out an 80-61 win. The schools first met on Jan. 2, 1947, a 45-43 UA win in East Lansing. All-time, Arizona is 2-0 in series games played in Tucson, 1-0 in East Lansing, and 1-0 in neutral-site games.
Last Meeting: Arizona 80, Michigan State 61, March 31, 2001. Arizona shot .500 from the floor and used a 16-1 run to open the second half en route to the 80-61 win over Michigan State in the National Semifinal. Michael Wright scored all 13 of his points in the second half and sparked the run with four quick points in the half's first three minutes. All five UA starters finished in double figures, led by Jason Gardner's 21 points (13 in the first half). The Wildcats' speed and defense proved to be the difference as UA limited the Spartans to .410 shooting, collected 21 steals and held a 21-11 points-off-turnovers advantage.
Road Warriors: Arizona has spent the majority of the season on the road, as five of the team's six games have been away from McKale Center. It is a bit ironic that the team's only loss of the year (Kansas) came in Tucson. After playing in New York, Anaheim, Phoenix and Austin, Texas, things don't get any easier for the Cats on this trip, as the No. 23 Spartans carry the nation's longest homecourt winning streak (49 games) into the contest.
Leader of the Pac: Junior Jason Gardner enters play this week at the Pac-10 Conference's leading scorer at 24.2 points per game. Gardner also leads the league in three-point field goals made per game at 4.17. Rick Anderson, who is tied for the league lead with 3.67 offensive rebounds per game, is the only other UA player to lead the league in any statistical category.
Holding Court: Rick Anderson averaged 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in leading Arizona to a pair of wins over Big Ten opponents last week. He shot .609 from the floor (14-of-23), .500 from three-point range and added two assists and five blocked shots. In Tuesday's win over No. 5 Illinois, Anderson scored a career-high 18 points and added seven rebounds (6 offensive) and an assist. He followed that up with a 17-point, nine-rebound, four-block performance in Saturday's win over Purdue in the Wooden Classic. On the year, he is averaging 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Answering the Call: Junior forward Rick Anderson has been a second-half wonder of late. In the last three games, the Long Beach, Calif., native has scored 34 of his 52 points in the second half. In that span, he is shooting 14-of-20 (.700) from the floor after the halftime break.
Playing the Best: The win over Illinois improved Arizona's record vs. ranked teams to 4-1 this season. Three of those four wins came against top-10 opponents (Maryland, Florida, Illinois). Saturday's win over Purdue ended the Wildcats' streak of nine consecutive games against ranked opponents, dating back to last season.
Starting Fast: Credit two fast starts with propelling Arizona to a 2-0 week vs. the Big Ten. The Cats amassed 49 first-half points vs. Purdue and 47 vs. Illinois, its two biggest first-half point totals of the year. That output helped the squad hold 19- and 17-point leads at the break, respectively. Not coincidentally, the points allowed to Purdue (30) and Illinois (31) in the first halves were the two lowest opponent totals this year.
Clamping Down: Arizona held Purdue to .365 (23-of-63) shooting last Saturday, the lowest for a UA opponent this year. The Boilers hit just 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from the floor in the first half.
In December: Arizona is 103-33 (.757) under Lute Olson in December, including a 63-16 (.797) mark since the 1990-91 season.
On Target: The Cats shot a season-best .538 (33-of-65) from the field on Saturday, marking the first time Arizona has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in its first six games. It also marked the first time the team has shot 50 percent or better in both halves of a game this year. Included in the effort was .564 (22-of-39) shooting in the first half, the team's highest shooting percentage for a single half this season. Dating back to last season, UA is 15-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor.
No Need for Threes: Entering last Saturday's game averaging nine three-point field goals per game (22.2 attempts), Arizona managed to pull out a win despite posting season-low totals of three treys in 14 attempts (.214). Prior to the Purdue game, the Wildcats made at least eight three-point field goals in each game this season.
Season High: Also key in the win on Saturday was Arizona's 49-28 rebound advantage vs. Purdue, UA's largest rebound advantage of the year. In the first half alone, Arizona held a 31-12 rebound margin. It was the fifth time in six games this year that Arizona has outrebounded the opposition. The 49 boards (33 defensive) vs. Purdue were a season high as well.
Double-Doubles: Junior forward Luke Walton collected his third double-double of the year with 17-point, career-high 13-rebound performance vs. Purdue. He hit a career -best 8-of-12 shots from the floor (a UA FG percentage high in 2001-02) and handed out a game-high six assists. Once again, he came close to recording the first triple-double of his career. In his last two games played on Saturday, Walton is averaging 18.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists. In those games (vs. Kansas/Purdue), he has been one assist and four assists shy of that elusive triple-double.
Shot Blocker: Led by Rick Anderson's career-high four blocked shots, the Wildcats swatted a season-high nine shots Saturday vs. Purdue. Anderson is now tied for the team lead with nine blocked shots
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 47-4 (.922) 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.
Streak Stopped: Jason Gardner's streak of five consecutive 20-point games ended Saturday vs. Purdue, as the guard from Indianapolis tallied just 14 points vs. Purdue. He is the first UA player since Jason Terry in 1998-99 to register at least five straight 20-point games in a single season (Terry did it eight times).
Finding the Open Man: Freshman Will Bynum did a good job of distributing the ball vs. Purdue, as the guard tallied a career-high four assists (two turnovers) in 27 minutes. Combined with Jason Gardner's five assists and one turnover in 35 minutes, the starting UA backcourt posted nine of the team's 17 assists with just three turnovers in 62 minutes of action.
Quiet Achievements: Two of UA's big men quietly put together solid performances in the win at the Wooden Classic. Channing Frye hit 4-of-5 FG attempts and equaled season highs with eight points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, while Andrew Zahn tallied two points, a career-best five boards and a block in just six minutes.
Pac-10 Predictions: In voting done by Pac-10 Conference media members, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in the league standings, its lowest predicted finish since 1985-86. Despite receiving two first-place votes (one of three teams to do so), UA ranked fourth with 200 points behind UCLA, Stanford and USC. Ironically, the last time the Cats were picked to finish as low, Coach Olson and crew captured the first his of nine Pac-10 titles.
Three-Point Range: In somewhat of a statistical rarity, the University of Arizona leads the Pac-10 in just one statistical category: 3-point field goal defense (.286). That could prove helpful, as the Spartans shoot .346 (45-of-130) from behind the arc.
Roster Moves: Two players were added to the roster in late October after surviving the program's fall tryout. Junior Fil Torres (G, 6-2, 185) from Lisle, Ill., and freshman Anas Fellah (G, 5-10, 165) from Tucson have officially joined the program. Counting senior forward Peter Hansen, who has officially joined the team now that football has ended, these two additions bring the number of players on the roster to 14.
Up Next: With the return of the Pac-10 postseason tournament, Arizona has the pleasure of opening Pac-10 play next week with a pair of league tilts. The Cats travel to Oregon for games with Oregon State (Dec. 20/7 p.m. PST) and Oregon (Dec. 22/6 p.m. PST).