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Men's Basketball Game Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/11/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 11, 2002

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Date:  Thursday, March 14, 2002                                 Time: approx. 8:15 p.m. MST
Location:  University Arena (18,018), Albuquerque, N.M.
Radio:  Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)	TV:  CBS (TBA)

Game Data: Fifteenth-ranked Arizona (22-9, 12-6 Pac-10) appears in its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the West Region ... The Wildcats face No. 14 seed UC-Santa Barbara (20-10, 11-7 Big West) in the first round ... Arizona has a 32-19 (.627) record in 20 previous appearances ... Arizona is 13-8 this season against the 2002 NCAA Tournament field ... The Wildcats have an 0-1 NCAA Tournament mark in University Arena, a first-round defeat to Alabama in the 1985 West Region First Round.

The Rankings: Arizona won three games to claim the Pac-10 Tournament title last week and was ranked No. 15 in the March 4 Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 8 in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 253 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 661-234 (.739) and 469-142 (.768) 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 (262) 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, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, 90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, 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 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 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only seven head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 280-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 208 of its last 222 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 2-0 vs. UC-Santa Barbara.

Last Time Out: Led by the shooting of Salim Stoudamire and the all-around play of Luke Walton, Arizona rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to claim its fourth consecutive Pac-10 Tournament title by defeating USC, 81-71, on March 9. Stoudamire scored a career-high 29 points on 9-of-10 shooting, while Walton chipped in with 23 points, eight assists and four rebounds in the winning effort. UA opened the second half on a 19-4 run and shot 57.7 percent in the second half, while limiting the Trojans to just 38.2 shooting after the break. Walton was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the all-Tournament team by Stoudamire and Jason Gardner.

Scouting UCSB: The Gauchos (20-10, 11-7 Big West) enter Thursday's first-round game as the Big West Tournament Champion after a 60-56 win over Utah State on March 9. A strong defensive team, UCSB limits opponents to just 60.1 points per game and a 38.2 field goal percentage. Only seven opponents have managed to score more than 70 points against the Gaucho defense. Individually, three UCSB players average in double figures, led by Mark Hull's 14.6 points-per-game average.

The Series: Today's game marks the 10th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 6-3 series advantage. The Wildcats have won the last two games in the series, which dates back to Feb. 1, 1956, including an 87-58 win in Tucson on Dec. 26, 1980. All-time, Arizona is 5-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-2 in Santa Barbara, and 0-0 in neutral-site games.

In the West Region: Arizona has a 21-14 record when playing in the West Regional with the last appearance in the region in 2000. The Wildcats have advanced to the Final Four twice (1988/1994) from the West Region.

As a No. 3 Seed: All time, Arizona has a 2-2 record as a No. 3 seed. The last time UA entered the Tournament as a No. 3 seed came in 1996 out of the West Region.

M.O.P.: Luke Walton earned Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists in UA's three tournament wins. In Saturday's championship game against USC, Walton scored 23 points, grabbed four rebounds and added eight assists (with one turnover) in 40 minutes of action. He is the fourth UA player to claim Pac-10 Tournament MOP honors, joining Sean Elliott (1988, 1989), Jud Buechler (1990) and Matt Muehlebach (1990).

Streaking: Arizona enters its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament riding a four-game win streak, which is one game shy of its season high. The Cats won five straight games from Jan. 6-19. Incidentally, UA's 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is now the longest active streak in the nation.

20 Wins: Last week's three-game sweep of the Pac-10 Tournament gave Arizona a 22-9 record and also gave Lute Olson his 24th 20-win season in 29 years as a collegiate head coach. Arizona has won now 20 or more games in 15 straight seasons and 24 times in school history.

Family Affair: For the second straight season, the NCAA Tournament has a Walton family flair. Arizona junior forward Luke Walton is joined the tournament by his younger brother, Chris, who is a sophomore who plays for San Diego State, the Mountain West Tournament champion.

On the Run: One of the keys to Arizona's win over USC in the Pac-10 Tournament final was a 19-4 run to open the second half (covering 7:00). It helped UA erase what was once a 13-point first-half deficit. It marked the sixth time in which an Arizona run helped the team out of a second-half deficit:

26 points - 30-4 run over 10:23 vs. California, March 2
25 points - 27-2 run over 6:16 vs. UCLA, Jan. 19
20 points - 35-15 run over 12:22 vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6
19 points - 25-6 run over 8:28 at Texas, Nov. 17
15 points - 19-4 run over 7:00 vs. USC, March 9
12 points - 24-12 run over 7:16 vs. Kansas, Dec. 1

Troika: The trio of Luke Walton, Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire each were named to the Pac-10 all-Tournament team following Saturday's win over USC. How much impact did they have? Those three were responsible for 70.5 percent of the UA offense in the tournament (172 of 244 points).

Four Straight: It took 12 years to do it, but the Pac-10 Tournament championship Arizona won last Saturday was actually its fourth consecutive. The Wildcats won three straight (1988-90) in the league's first incarnation of the event in addition to the 2002 edition. All time, Arizona has a 12-1 record (.923) in conference tournament play and has won 12 straight tournament games.

Strength of Schedule: Arizona enters the 2002 NCAA Tournament having played the nation's toughest schedule, according to collegerpi.com. Sixteen of Arizona's 31 opponents (52 percent) were nationally ranked at the time of the game, and the Cats were 10-6 in those contests. To take that a step further, seven of Arizona's 10 non-conference opponents either won or shared their regular season conference title. Arizona played nine games this season against teams that at least shared a league title (Big 12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big East, West Coast, Pac-10, Mid Continent). Nine of UA's 10 non-conference opponents are participating in the 2002 NCAA Tournament.

All-Conference Accolades: Four Arizona players were recognized by the Pacific-10 Conference with postseason honors. Juniors Luke Walton and Jason Gardner were named all-conference, while Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye were named to the all-freshman team. Stoudamire was also named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

A Crowd Favorite: Arizona set a school record for average attendance this season, averaging 14,544 fans per game, which broke last season's record of 14,533. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance each season since 1984-85.

League Leader: Luke Walton enters the tournament as the Pac-10 leader in assists, averaging 6.32 assists per game, a figure that is 0.58 higher than the rest of the league. If that lead holds up, Walton would be the first frontcourt player to lead the Pac-10 in assists since the league started tracking the statistic in 1974-75.

On Target: Freshman Salim Stoudamire has certainly made an impact with his outside shooting. On the season, the Portland, Ore., native is shooting 45.6 percent from the filed, including 45.9 percent from three point range. In the last 10 games, those figures rise to 53.6 (45-of-84) and 53.3 (24-of-45), respectively. Stoudamire has been so accurate, he currently ranks second on the school's career three-point FG percentage chart behind Steve Kerr (.573).

Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play in the tournament with 1,456 career points, which places him 14th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Jason Terry, who tallied 1,461 points from 1996-99. Incidentally, Gardner has 73 double-figure scoring games in his 101-game career.

Behind the Arc: Arizona hit 10 treys (22 att.) in Saturday's win, which marked the seventh time the squad has made at least 10 field goals from behind the arc. Interestingly, the Cats are just 3-4 in games in which it collects double-figure treys. Arizona averages 7.71 three-point field goals per game this season, No. 2 in the Pac-10.

Top Cat: UA finished the Pac-10 slate with a 12-6 record, marking the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that the Cats have won at least 12 conference games, a feat matched by no other league foe. Dating back to the 1984-85 campaign, Arizona has averaged 15 wins per season. The only time in that span that Arizona failed to win at least 12 league games was 1996-97, the year the Cats won the national championship.

Clamping Down: The Wildcats put together a pretty good defensive effort on Saturday, as the squad limited USC to just 38.2 percent shooting in the second half (.426 for the game) en route to the victory. That was indicative of a defensive performance that saw Arizona hold the opposition to just 42.3 percent shooting in three Pac-10 Tournament games. That's 14 points lower than the opponent's season FG percentage. Arizona has held 10 opponents to less than 40 percent field goal shooting this season.

Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 60-7 (.896) 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, and are 15-4 this year.

Ball Security: Arizona finished last Saturday's game with 16 assists compared with just 12 turnovers, and one would be hard pressed to find a better example of the value of taking care of the ball. Against USC, Arizona committed 10 first-half turnovers and trailed by eight points. After the break, UA opened the second half with just one turnover in the first 19:43. It's not surprising that UA shot 57.7 percent from the floor and outscored the Trojans, 50-32.

400 Club: If the numbers hold up, the 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats has a chance to accomplish a rare statistical feat: have four players score at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (636 points), Luke Walton (446) and Salim Stoudamire (407) are already over the mark, while Rick Anderson (389) needs just 11 points to join the club. If he can do it, the 2001-02 club would join the 1999-2000 team as the only two to do it since 1987-88.

Freshman Contributions: Those freshmen have certainly made an impact, as the group has combined to score 42.2 percent of the team's offense, grab 44.2 percent of the rebounds and log 49.5 percent of the minutes played.

Unprecedented: It's probably appropriate that Arizona finds itself in what has been described as the tournament's toughest regional. The Wildcats have been fighting an uphill battle all season. With six freshmen (five true and one redshirt) on its roster, Arizona opened the season with five consecutive games against ranked opponents, a feat that is unmatched in college basketball history.

Stepping Up: Heading into this season, it was assumed that Jason Gardner was going to have to shoulder more of the scoring load. Gardner raised his scoring average 8.8 points over his career average entering the season (11.7 ppg) and improved his shooting percentage by more than five percent. He's done all of this while logging 38.1 minutes per game and passing out 140 assists. That figure is just seven assists shy of his 36-game total from last season.

Pleasant Surprise: Not only has Rick Anderson's offensive contributions come as expected (he's shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and has more than doubled his career scoring output this year alone), but he has been a force on the glass. The slender 6-foot-9, 213-pound forward from Long Beach, Calif., is tied for the team rebounding lead at 7.3 rpg, but leads the squad with 87 offensive boards

Getting it Done: Isaiah Fox has renewed his efforts as a rebounder by grabbing 42 rebounds in the last six games. He averaged 5.3 rebounds in the Pac-10 Tournament, and outrebounded Pac-10 Player of the Year Sam Clancy, 8-5, in the tournament final. On the year Fox is averaging 4.1 rebounds per game.

Marksman: Freshman Channing Frye distinguished himself as the team's most accurate shooter. Through 31 games, the freshman center is the only UA player with a shooting percentage above 50 percent. He ranks second in the Pac-10 with a .582 (107-of-184) shooting percentage.

Warming Up: After entering the Pac-10 Tournament with a .337 FG percentage, it was Will Bynum's shooting that helped the Cats bring home the trophy. The Chicago native shot .583 from the floor in the three games in Los Angeles, including a 10-point (4-of-5 FG), three-assist performance in the semifinal win over California. He has scored in double figures in three of his last four games.

In Reserve: While he scored just six points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Pac-10 Tournament, forward Dennis Latimore has proven himself to be a valuable frontcourt reserve. He averages 11. 4 minutes per game on the year, but showed his versatility by grabbing five rebounds in 10 minutes against a physical Arizona State squad and scored six points in 15 minutes vs. California in the semifinals.

Offensive Balance: It's no secret that the Cats are at its collective best when all five cylinders are firing. This year, Arizona is 7-0 when five or more players finish in double figures. Additionally, Arizona is 39-3 (.929) when scoring at least 90 points since 1997-98, though two of those losses (Kansas/Connecticut) have come this season.

Rebounding and Defense: Success usually follows when Arizona does these two things well. In UA's 22 wins, the squad posts a +2.7 rebound margin and holds the opposition to 72.9 points per game and a .417 field goal percentage. In its nine defeats, the rebound margin slips to -5.5, while the opponent scoring average rises to 89.9 points and the FG percentage jumps to .485.

Good Starts: This season, Arizona is 17-2 when leading or tied after the first 10 minutes of play. In its 22 wins, Arizona outscores the opposition by an average of 5.3 points, a figure that is 3.5 points higher than its 31-game average.

Stoudamire Comparison: Here is a statistical comparison of the Stoudamire cousins, Damon (1991-92) and Salim, in their freshman years at Arizona.

	GP-S	Min.	FG-A	Pct.	3FG-A	Pct.	FT-A	Pct.	R/G	A	TO	Blk	Stl	Pts.-Avg.
Damon	30-0	540	76-167	.455	28-69	.406	37-48	.771	2.2	76	44	3	22	217-7.2
Salim	31-25	932	123-270	.456	68-148	.459	93-101	.921	2.0	36	51	0	24	389-12.5

In March: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 28-9 (.757) in the month of March.

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.

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