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Men's Basketball Game Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/29/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 29, 2002

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Date: Monday, Dec. 30, 2002
Time: approx. 7 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

Game Data: Fourth-ranked Arizona (6-1, 0-0 Pac-10) seeks its 17th title in 18 years of the Fiesta Bowl Classic honoring Bobbi Olson, presented by Bank One and Tucson Electric Power Monday against Boston University (5-5, 0-0 AEC) ... Arizona is 34-1 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play with the lone defeat coming in the 2000 championship game, a 75-74 loss to Mississippi State ... All-time, Arizona is 2-0 against current America East Conference members.

The Rankings: For the first time this season, Arizona fell from the top spot in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Wildcats currently are ranked fourth in both major college basketball polls. UA has been ranked in 258 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 669-236 (.739) and 477-144 (.768) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson 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 20-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 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 285-29 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 213 of its last 227 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 0-0 against Boston University and is 34-0 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play.

Last Time Out: Led by Salim Stoudamire, Arizona broke open a close game by scoring the first nine points of the second half to lead to the 95-69 win Saturday night over Davidson in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic Honoring Bobbi Olson. Stoudamire, who tallied a game-high 23 points, scored five of his points in the decisive run just 2:06 into the second half. UA limited Davidson to a season-low 39.4 field goal percentage, including 29.3 percent in the second half, and held a 50-34 advantage on the boards. Arizona led 45-39 at the break and outscored Davidson, 50-30, in the second half.

Scouting Boston University: The Terriers look to move above the .500 mark for the second time this season tonight after evening up its record at 5-5 with Saturday's 84-69 win over Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl Classic first round. Matt Turner scored all 18 of his points in the second half as BU outscored Florida State, 48-36, to win by 15 points. Fourteen of the Terriers' 26 field goals Saturday came via the three-point field goal. Overall, BU shoots 39.1 percent from the floor, posts a +4.2 rebound margin and averages 63.9 points per game. Individually, Billy Collins leads BU with per game averages of 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds.

The Series: It is the first meeting of the two schools. It marks the second time in Fiesta Bowl Classic history that a team from Massachusetts has made an appearance in the Classic championship game. Boston College was defeated by Arizona, 71-61, in the inaugural event on Dec. 28, 1985.

Shooting Straight: Salim Stoudamire scored a game-high 23 points in leading Arizona to a 95-69 win over Davidson in the first round of the 18th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic Honoring Bobbi Olson. The sophomore guard, who was shooting 27.6 percent from the floor (8-of-29) entering the game, connected on 6-of-8 shots from the floor in finishing with 20+ points for the first time this season and the fifth time in his career. He also hit 2-of-3 attempts from three-point range and 9-of-10 free throws. The effort improved his season shooting percentage to .378, a 12-point improvement.

Making it Hard to Score: One of the few posted goals in UA's locker room relates to field goal percentage - get good open shots that have high chances of going in, and work to force opponents into the opposite. In seven games, Arizona has held opponents under 40 percent shooting on three occasions, including a second-half .293 showing by Davidson Saturday that dropped the good-shooting DC Cats to .394 overall for the game after a .560 splurge in the first half. Overall, the UA has held opponents to .416 for the year, with the Cats doing their best job in holding Western Kentucky to .359 from the floor.

Welcome Back: After missing two games to an ankle injury, senior forward Luke Walton returned to action Saturday and gave the Arizona faithful a bit of sighing relief by doing some of the dirty work with aplomb, collecting seven rebounds in 19 minutes of play. He returned to the starting lineup as expected and played about evenly in each half (10 and 9 minutes). He nearly doubled his season's three-point shooting, and hit two-for-five from behind the line for his six points.

Moving Up: Freshman wing Hassan Adams moved into a tie for the team lead in scoring average with his 18-point effort against Davidson. Three of his field goals were of the crowd-pleasing variety, soaring dunks. He also was effective on the boards, grabbing a young-career-high seven and had three of the Wildcats' 13 steals. Adams and senior point guard Jason Gardner each are averaging 14.0 points per game.

Solidifying the Middle: Sophomore center Channing Frye totaled a season-high 12 points and nearly posted a double-double with his third nine-rebound game of the year Saturday. Frye and fellow big men Dennis Latimore (8), Luke Walton (7) and Isaiah Fox (7) helped Arizona out-rebound DC by a whopping 50-34 margin. The 50 boards were the most by UA this year. Latimore (5) and Frye (4) were solid on the offensive glass.

Record Setter: The 14,585 in attendance for the first day of the Fiesta Bowl Classic Honoring Bobbi Olson on Saturday set a single-session attendance record, eclipsing the previous mark of 14,566 in McKale for the first day of the tourney last year.

More Help on the Glass: The Wildcats collected 13 steals against their fellow namesake from Davidson, the second consecutive game for double-figure theft. The baker's dozen was four shy of the Fiesta Bowl Classic record, 17 by Arizona against the Michigan Wolverines in December 1993 when Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves manned the backcourt for a team that made it to the Final Four. It marked the second time this season that UA has had back-to-back double-figure steals games (Western Kentucky, 17/Northern Arizona 13).

From the Line: Sophomore guard Salim Stoudamire missed his first free throw of the year against Davidson, but made nine other tries to drop to 17-for-18 on the year. The nine made throws (a UA season high) and his superb 6-for-8 field goal shooting gave him a game-high 23 points and pushed him into double-figures scoring average at 10.6 per game.

Showing off its Depth: In his longest extended playing time of the season, freshman point guard Chris Rodgers turned in his best performance against Davidson Saturday evening. He hit 4-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from the stripe for 14 points and his first double-figures scoring game, plus had two assists and swatted his first blocks of the season (2). His playing time of 24 minutes was 10 minutes more than his previous high of 14 vs. Northern Arizona.

Top Five: Jason Gardner enters Monday's game just four assists shy of 500 for his career. With 496 career assists, Gardner ranks fifth on the all-time Arizona assist list. He has recorded at last four assists in five of seven games this season and 66 times in his 111-game career. In the UA record book, Gardner ranks among the career top five in eight different statistical categories.

Halfway to 100: In averaging 88.7 points per game, Arizona has managed to score at least 50 points in a half four times this season, including the second half Saturday vs. Davidson.

Perhaps this is More Impressive: More than just offensive output, Arizona has been a good team in terms of scoring defense by limiting opponents to just 68.3 points per game. Four times this season, the Wildcats have held opponents to 30 or fewer points in a half as it accomplished against Davidson.

Charitable Giving: Davidson certainly helped the Arizona cause Saturday by committing an opponent-high 30 personal fouls. UA parlayed that into season-high totals of 25 free throws made and 35 free throw attempts (.714). All told, Arizona outscored Davidson 25-8 from the charity stripe.

Three-Point FG Defense: Arizona has done a good job of contesting the opposition's three-point attempts. On the season, UA opponents are hitting just 29.5 percent (41-of-139) of its attempts from behind the arc. Even though Davidson shot a UA opponent-best 34.6 percent from behind the arc, Arizona managed to hold it to just .143 from three-point range (2-of-14) in the second half. Davidson entered the contest shooting 50.3 percent from behind the arc.

Nearly Legendary: Sophomore Dennis Latimore narrowly missed recording his first career double-double Saturday with a season-best eight points and eight rebounds against Davidson. To go with those numbers, the forward from Halstead, Kan., also chipped in a steal, an assist and equaled a career-high with two blocks.

Rock Solid: While the statistics don't jump off the page, sophomore center Isaiah Fox has quietly become a solid contributor on an every-game basis. Over the last five games, Fox has averaged 6.8 points, and more importantly, 6.3 rebounds while shooting .682 (15-of-22) from the field. He also has five assists in that span, which is as many as he passed out in all of 2000-01.

In December: Arizona is 110-36 (.753) under Lute Olson in the month of December, including a 70-19 (.787) mark since the 1990-91 season.

Revolving Door: Prior to the start of the season, Coach Olson stated that it would take some time to find the best lineup combinations. The Wildcat mentor has used a different starting lineup in all seven games this season. Only Jason Gardner has started every game to date.

Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 66-7 (.904) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 16-4 last season when scoring at least 80 points.

Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Ndudi Ebi (F, 6-8, 192) from Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian High School, Mustafa Shakur (G, 6-3, 175) from Wynnewood, Pa., Friends Central High School and Kirk Walters (C, 6-10, 210) from Grand Rapids, Mich., South Christian High School will join the squad next fall.

Up Next: It's a quick turnaround for the Wildcats, as the club opens Pacific-10 Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003. Arizona travels to Eugene, Ore., to take on 11th-ranked Oregon. One of the marquee games nationally this season will tip-off at 9 p.m. PST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and KAZ-TV in Arizona.

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