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Wildcats Battle Bears in Berkeley
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/27/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 27, 2010

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Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time: 7:00 p.m. (PT)

Location: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif.

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

Tip Off Time Arizona makes its annual trip to the Bay Area this weekend, starting with a visit to Haas Pavilion to take on California on Thursday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m. The two teams will complete their home-and-home conference series in Tucson on Thursday, February 25.

Catch the Action: Entering his third 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 three 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. Standing in this week for Butts was assistant coach Sue Darling, a UA alum and former Wildcat. 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 Jim Click Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Series Notes: The Wildcats hold a 29-21 all-time advantage in the series with the Golden Bears. However, California has won the last seven meetings between the two teams and 8-of-9 dating back to the 2004-05 campaign. The last win for the Wildcats came in Berkeley on January 22, 2006 as the Cats claimed a 80-76 victory. Joy Hollingsworth led the way in that game with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals for Arizona. Last season at Haas Pavilion, Arizona rallied from 12 points down to within two, but missed a potential game-tying shot with under 10 seconds to play.

Scouting the Golden Bears: California is another Pac-10 team rebuilding this year after the loss of All-American Ashley Walker as well as all-Pac-10 performer Devanei Hampton. Entering the game with a season mark of 10-8, the Golden Bears have won 4-straight games including a weekend sweep in Oregon last week. 2009 All-Pac-10 selection Alexis Gray-Lawson was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after scoring a school-record 47 points that included 17-of-20 free throws in a 79-75 double-overtime win at Oregon State on Saturday evening. Gray-Lawson leads California in scoring at 17.8 points per game while also pulling down 5.7 rebounds. Freshman DeNesha Stallworth also chips in at 13.6 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting an even 50 percent from the field in her debut season.

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).

Last Time Out: Despite building a 8-point lead with 2:23 left in the first half, Arizona allowed visiting Arizona State to break a 44-44 second half deadlock with a 11-0 run on the way to a 73-67 win over the Wildcats. Arizona strung together a 18-4 spurt in the first half behind 7 points by Ify Ibekwe, but Arizona State answered with back-to-back three-pointers by Tenaya Watson to end the first half, then outscored the Cats, 42-32, in the second stanza to pick up their 9th-straight win over Arizona. All-American Ify Ibekwe led all players with 25 points and 16 rebounds while freshman guard Davellyn Whyte poured in 22 points. While those two players combined to shoot 18-of-31 (.581) from the field, the rest of the Wildcats were just 4-for-25 (.160) and tallied just 20 points. Arizona State dominated play on the glass with a 48-36 rebounding edge that included 21 offensive boards that resulted in 20 second-chance points. The Sun Devils also scored 20 points off 17 Wildcat turnovers. Becca Tobin converted 9-of-10 free throws and 5-of-6 field goal attempts to finish with a team-best 19 points for Arizona State. Danielle Orsillo chipped in with 16 points whil Watson finished with 14 points, 4 blocked shots and 4 steals.

Record Setting Day: Both the Arizona and Pac-10 history books will need a considerable amount of updating after the record-setting performance by Arizona and Oregon on January 16 in McKale Center. Arizona set a program record with 119 points, besting the previous mark of 112 points scored against Cal State Northridge on December 13, 1991. The 39 points scored by Davellyn Whyte were an individual single-game scoring record, the previous mark held at 35 points by Dee-Dee Wheeler, Adia Barnes and Timi Brown. Pac-10 standards were also set for combined points in a game, points scored in a Pac-10 game and points scored by a losing team.

Century Mark: The Wildcats eclipsed the 100-point barrier for the 12th time in program history in the win ove Oregon, the first time any Arizona team had accomplished that feat since posting 101 points at UNLV on December 22, 2002. Contrarily, it was the 26th time Arizona had allowed at least 100 points in a game, but the first time since allowing 108 points in a loss to Stanford on February 28, 1998.

By The Numbers: Arizona is averaging 69.2 points per game, good for 4th in the Pac-10, while California has been just slightly more productive at 69.9 points per contest. On the defensive end, the Wildcats are allowing 67.4 points per outing while the Golden Bears yield 63.9 points to the opposition. California has been the stronger rebounding team, posting a plus-six advantage while Arizona has basically been even overall on the glass. The Wildcats have been the stronger shooting team in all areas, besting the Golden Bears by nearly 30 percentage points overall, from three-point range and from the charity stripe.

High-Scoring Guards: While Davellyn Whyte grabbed the Pac-10 headlines a week ago with her 39-point performance against Oregon, California guard Alexis Gray-Lawson snatched all of the attention last Saturday evening with a record-breaking 47-point performance in a double-overtime win over Oregon State. The two have won the last two Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week awards, respectively, each setting single-game scoring records for their respective programs. Whyte was the first freshman to win the award in over two seasons while Gray-Lawson tallied the 2nd-most points by a player in the NCAA this season and produced the 3rd-highest single-game point total in Pac-10 history.

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 rejoin 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 averaging 30.2 points,8.3 rebounds, 7.5 steals and 3.2 assists per game for the 15-4 Devils. Most recently, Warthen tallied 36 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 8 steals in a 67-48 win over Washington-Wilkes.

Conference Standouts: Arizona continues to have 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 12.1 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 92.1 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 2nd in the league in scoring at 17.9 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.6 per contest, 5th in 3-point field goal percentage at .405 and 9th in field goal percentage with a .484 tally. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.9 per outing, good for a share of 8th place. Ibekwe is also 4th in blocked shots with a 1.4 average, 5th in steals with 2.4 per game, 9th in assists at 3.1, 9th in scoring with 14.4 per game and 10th in field goal percentage at .479. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th in scoring (69.2), 3rd in field goal percentage (.435) and field goal percentage defense (.375) as well as 5th in both 3-point field goals per game (5.1) and in free throw percentage (.684).

National Notables: In the latest release of national statistics on Friday morning, Arizona is among the top 100 in scoring (78th, 69.2), field goal percentage (44th, .435) and field goal percentage defense (78th, .375). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 3rd in the nation in rebounding at 12.1 per contest, 6th in double-doubles with 11, 67th in field goal percentage at .479 and 94th in steals per game with 2.4. Davellyn Whyte is tied for 36th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.6, 43rd in the NCAA in scoring at 17.9 per game, 55th in 3-point field goal percentage at .405 and 62nd in field goal percentage at .484.

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 10-of-16 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 4 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 941 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 14.4 per game, Ibekwe would reach the 1.000-point plateau on February 13 in a road game against Oregon State. Ibekwe is 26 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 17.9 points per game while shooting .405 from three-point range, .484 from the field and grabbing 4.3 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch since the start of Pac-10 play, averaging a Pac-10 leading 22.7 points to go along with 4.0 rebounds while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 45.1 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 has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 16 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance last Saturday, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance 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 has already had seven games scoring at least 20 points in just 17 contests. 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 2.6 three-point shots made per contest. She is also the only Pac-10 player with two games of 30-plus points this season and has scored in double figures in 14-of-17 outings.

Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 86 times through the first 17 games for an average of over five per game. With Whyte and Brooke Jackson combining to shoot over 37 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 set a career-high two weeks ago against Oregon with 28 points and is currently averaging 12.8 points and 6.9 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 concludes its quick northern California road swing with its toughest test of the season at Maples Pavilion against #2-ranked and defending Pac-10 champion Stanford. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. (PT) Arizona will return home to start the month of February as well as the second half of Pac-10 play by hosting Washington State on Thursday, February 4th at 7:00 p.m. (MT)

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