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Cats, Ducks Duel in McKale
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/15/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 15, 2010

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Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time: 2:00 p.m. (MT)

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)

Tip Off Time Arizona makes a quick return to Olson Court to play the middle game of a three-game homestand against Oregon this Saturday afternoon. The two teams will meet again in their last-ever matchup at legendary McArthur Court on Thursday, February 11.

Catch the Action: Entering his second season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.

Coaches Show: Week two of the Niya Butts Show will broadcast this Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer will host the show and ask questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. The show will most likely broadcast from the Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Last Time Out: Arizona picked up its first conference victory in McKale Center for the 2009-10 season on Thursday evening as the Wildcats fought off visiting Oregon State in a 62-53 decision. Junior forward Soana Lucet converted 7-of-10 field goal attempts and finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with 6 rebounds. Though Arizona allowed 21 offensive rebounds, the Cats committed a season-low 13 turnovers and converted 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch to pick up the victory. Arizona battled back from a 43-36 deficit by outscoring Oregon State, 26-10, over the last 13 minutes of the game. Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte tallied all 14 of her points in the second half after missing most of the opening stanza with foul trouble. Reiko Thomas came off the bench and tossed in 12 points while handing out four assists. Haiden Palmer led the way for the Beavers with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, but logged just 13 minutes before fouling out. Leading scorer Talisa Rhea added 13 points for the Beavers, but made just 4-of-18 field goal attempts and was 0-for-6 from three-point range.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.

Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).

Not So Nice New Year: The month of January has provided a mixed bag for the Wildcats since its first contest during the opening month of the year back in 1975. The Wildcats won that game on January 17, 1975 against Utah, 46-36, but are 105-180 all-time in the month of January. Arizona posted a 32-46 record during the 2000's in the month of January, but finished it with a four-year run going just 6-27 dating back to the 2005-06 campaign. The last winning month of January for the Wildcats came in 2004-05, a 31-day stretch that saw the Cats go 5-4.

Series Notes: Oregon holds a 28-21 lead in the all-time series with Arizona dating back to the teams' first-ever meeting back in January of 1981. The teams have split the last four meetings in the serieswith the home team winning on each occasion. The Wildcats took advantage of the absence of Oregon point guard Taylor Lilley when the two met at McKale Center last February to run away with a 68-44 victory. Five Wildcats tallied in double figures in the victory, which also saw Arizona force 24 turnovers for their most lopsided win of the season. Ify Ibekwe had 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocked shots while both Ashley Frazier and Reiko Thomas tallied 10 points with Frazier dishing out a career-high 8 assists.

Scouting the Ducks: One of two new head coaches in the Pac-10 this season, legendary coach Paul Westhead brought his up-tempo style to Eugene after most recently leading the Phoenix Mercury to the 2007 WNBA Championship. Around several stints in the professional game, Westhead coached for 18 collegiate seasons at George Mason, Loyola Marymount and LaSalle. Oregon is leading the Pac-10 in scoring at 85.8 points per game and shoots an impressive 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. Senior point guard Taylor Lilley leads the Ducks in scoring at 16.5 points per game and has drained a league-best 55 3-point shots. Micaela Cocks also chips in with 15.2 points per outing while Amanda Johnson (14.4) and Nicole Canepa (10.6) also average in double figures. Johnson is among the Pac-10 leaders in rebounds at 9.7 per game.

Last Time Out for Oregon: Host Arizona State shot 57.1 percent from the field and posted a 23-5 advantage in free throws made to hand Oregon its first loss in conference play, 73-68. The Sun Devils hit 14-of-22 shots (.636) in the first half and overcame 27 turnovers to make a 5-point halftime lead stand up. Danielle Orsillo led the way for Arizona State with 17 points while both Cocks and Nia Jackson led the Oregon offense with 15 points apiece. Taylor Lilley had 14 points for the Ducks and Amanda Johnson tallied 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Oregon shot 43.8 percent for the game, but committed 25 turnovers and hit just 5-of-10 free throws.

Shorthanded Sides: Both Arizona and Oregon will be missing players on Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. The Wildcats will be without junior center Jennifer Kioa, who was ruled academically ineligible after the conclusion of the fall semester. Oregon will most likely be without the services of Victoria Kenyon, who was charged with a flagrant foul in the second half of Thursday night's game against Arizona State and will be levied with a one-game suspension.

Preseason Picks: Arizona was picked to finish 9th in both the Coaches and Media polls that were released last week. In each vote, the Wildcats were picked to finish ahead of just Washington. Nine-time defending champion Stanford was picked to add another crown to its mantle in both polls. Junior forward Ify Ibekwe was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 team after earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and All-Defensive First Team honors last season.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoining the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her prep career after tallying 29 points in a win for the Screaming Devils against rival Thomson. She also had eight rebounds, six steals and four assists in the game. Warthen is currently averaging 29.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game for the 11-4 Devils. Following a 39-point outing, Warthen registered a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 61-27 win over Evans. Last season, she scored a school-record 743 points while averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 4.0 assists per game as a 1st-team all-state honoree.

By The Numbers: With wins each of the last two Thursday evenings over Washington State and Oregon State, respectively, Arizona improved to 6-1 on the campaign when allowing 60 points or less, failing only to win at San Diego State early in the season. On the flip side, the Cats are 8-2 when they score at least 60 points. The Wildcats are now 6-1 when scoring the first points of the game and hold a 5-2 mark when holding a halftime lead.

Conference Standouts: With a quarter of Pac-10 play in the books, Arizona has several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.7 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 91.3 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 5th in the league in scoring at 16.3 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.5 per contest and 5th in 3-point field goal percentage at .380. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 7.4 per outing, good for 9th place. Ibekwe is also 4th in steals with 2.4 per game and 5th in blocked shots with a 1.5 average. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th in field goal percentage (.424), 3rd in field goal percentage defense (.365), and 5th in blocked shots (3.7), 3-point field goal percentage (.311) and 3-point field goals per game (4.9).

National Notables: In the latest release of national statistics on Friday morning, Arizona is among the top 100 in both field goal percentage (80th, .424) and field goal percentage defense (55th, .365). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 3rd in the nation in rebounding at 11.7 per contest, 5th in double-doubles with nine and 90th in steals per game with 2.4. Davellyn Whyte is 53rd in the NCAA in 3-pointers per game with 2.5, 85th in 3-point field goal percentage at .380 and 92nd in scoring at 16.3 per game.

Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.

Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.

Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently in third place in the Arizona record books with 31 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 9-of-14 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently 5 double-doubles behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could pass this season if she can post the double digits in every remaining regular season game plus two postseason contests.

All-American Girl: Her impressive numbers also landed Ibekwe on the Associated Press All-America honorable mention list. She became just the 7th player in Arizona history to be named to one of the All-America teams and the first since Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk earned the honor following the 2004-05 campaign. Ibekwe was also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women's basketball and was chosen to attend the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Trials over the summer.

Milennium Milestone: With a total of 884 points for her career, Ibekwe is on track to become the 16th player in Arizona history to amass 1,000 points. At her current scoring average of 12.5 per game, Ibekwe would reach the 1.000-point plateau on February 20 in a road game against in-state rival Arizona State. Ibekwe is 83 points from entering the Top 20, a spot held by Felecity Willis at 967 points.

Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte logged 44 minutes in her Arizona debut, tallying a game-high 27 points while adding 8 rebounds in the 75-70 overtime win against Iona. She then scored 11 points against Miami (Ohio) and finished the weekend shooting almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 16.3 points per game while shooting .380 from three-point range, .463 from the field and grabbing 4.6 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch since the start of Pac-10 play, averaging 19.6 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from distance.

Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte made her first assault on the Arizona record books on Sunday afternoon when she tallied 34 points against USC. Her personal tally matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte is nearly halfway toward that total after scoring at least 20 points in four of the last seven. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting third overall in the league with 2.5 three-point shots made per contest.

Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 74 times through the first 15 games for almost five per game. With Whyte and Brooke Jackson combining to shoot 37.5 percent from threedom, the Cats have increased their clip from distance by 40 percentage points from last season after shooting only 27.9 percent in 2008-09.

More About The Three Ball: The Cats are hoping to challenge the 1996 season, the best statistically in program history in regards to three-point shooting. That team hit 176 for the season and connected at a .382 clip. If the current Wildcats average six made three-pointers through the season and play 31 games like last season, the team would finish with a school-record 186 treys..

Long Way From Home: The Wildcats have had a number of players in the program from foreign countries in recent years, but none has had to come further to Tucson than junior forward Soana Lucet. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho is a native of New Caledonia, a collection of islands located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Lucet is the first female from New Caledonia to play collegiately in the United States and was named her country's best Under-18 player two years ago. Lucet had her best game with the Wildcats against San Diego with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting and is currently averaging 12.0 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Family Ties: Several members of the Wildcats have ties to either other Arizona teams, other colleges or professional clubs. The father of Tasha Dickey is currently an assistant football coach at Kansas State while Devon White, the father of Davellyn Whyte, is on staff with the Washington Nationals and was a Major League Baseball all-star during his career. Brooke Jackson welcomed younger sister, Cami, to the Arizona track and field team this season.

Up Next: Arizona will make its second and final regularly-scheduled television appearance of the season when it hosts rival Arizona State on Sunday, January 24 at 4:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

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