Dec. 17, 2001
Date: Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001 Time: 7 p.m. PST Location: Gill Coliseum (10,400), Corvallis, Ore. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: KWBA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: No. 11 Arizona (5-2, 0-0 Pac-10) has the pleasure of opening Pac-10 play before Christmas, as the Cats travel to Oregon State (5-3, 0-0 Pac-10) ... It is UA's seventh game away from home this season ... The return of the Pac-10 postseason tournament brought about the league games in December ... UA also opened Pac-10 play in December during the 1988, 1989 and 1990 seasons and won the tournament title in each of those seasons ... The Cats' earliest conference opener in that span: Nov. 30, 1989, in a 68-63 loss at Oregon ... Over the last two years, UA is 20-7 in road or neutral-site games.
The Rankings: After the loss at Michigan State last week, Arizona fell to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and to No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 241 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 644-227 (.739) and 452-135 (.770) 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 32-6 vs. Oregon State.
Last Time Out: Once again a poor-shooting first half doomed the Wildcats, as the team fell, 74-60, at Michigan State on Dec. 15. UA shot just 17.9 percent in the first half and trailed by 16 points at the half. Arizona opened the second half with an 18-7 run that cut the deficit to five points with 11:43 to go, but Adam Ballinger scored five of MSU's next seven points to give the team a double-digit lead it would not relinquish. The trio of Jason Gardner, Luke Walton and Rick Anderson scored 47 of UA's 60 points.
Scouting Oregon State: The Beavers enter play this week with a 5-3 record after last Saturday's 72-68 loss at Cal Poly-SLO. On the year, OSU is averaging 65.5 points per game, while shooting 46.4 percent (176-of-379) from the floor and limiting the opposition to just 62.9 points and a .410 FG percentage. The Beavers, who average 29.8 rebounds per game, are being outrebounded by an average of 4.2 boards per game. Ricci, one of three OSU players averaging in double figures, leads the team with 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game averages.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 51st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 35-15 series advantage. Arizona has won four of the last six, including a sweep of last year's games. The Cats won the last meeting, 65-54, in Tucson on March 1, 2001. All-time, Arizona is 20-5 in series games played in Tucson, 14-10 in Corvallis, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 86 of the UA men's basketball media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 65, Oregon State 54, March 1, 2001. On the strength of .522 shooting and an 18-7 rebound advantage in the first half, Arizona jumped out to a 39-23 lead and coasted to the 11-point win. The Cats used an early 20-7 run to essentially put the game out of reach. Led by Luke Walton, who scored a game-high 16 points, the UA bench logged 76 minutes and totaled 31 points and 16 rebounds. See page 68 in the UA men's basketball media guide for the game boxscore.
Scheduling Quirk: By the time that Arizona returns home to play its next home game on Dec. 28, the team will have opened the season by playing eight of its first nine games away from the comforts of the McKale Center. How rare is that? The last time UA played just one home date prior to Christmas came during the 1944-45 campaign.
Playing the Best: Last Saturday's game at Michigan State marked the sixth nationally-ranked opponent that Arizona has faced in seven games this season. The Cats' record vs. ranked teams is 4-2 in 2001-02 . Three of those four wins came against top-10 opponents (Maryland, Florida, Illinois). Dating back to last season, Arizona has faced a ranked opponent in 10 of its last 11 games.
Tough Trip: Despite the fact that Arizona holds a cumulative 66-31 series advantage over both Oregon State and Oregon, this two-game trip to Oregon has proven to be a difficult one for the Cats of late. Since the start of the 1998-99 season Arizona is 2-4 vs. the Beavers and Ducks, the worst record of any of the two-game conference trips. In that span, UA is 5-1 in Washington, 4-2 in the Bay Area and 4-2 in Los Angeles.
Off Target: Poor field goal shooting was certainly one of the keys in Arizona's 14-point loss last Saturday at Michigan State. The Wildcats connected on a season-low 16-of-53 (.302) from the field, including just 17.9 percent (5-of-28) in the opening half. UA did manage to shoot a respectable 44.0 percent (11-of-25) in the second half against the Spartans.
Hope It's Not a Trend: While Arizona's .412 shooting percentage is somewhat alarming (it would be the program's worst FG percentage since 1962-63), what could be more troubling is that the Wildcats have shot so poorly in each of its losses. In the games vs. Kansas and Michigan State, Arizona is a combined 46-of-138 (.333) from the floor. In comparison, the team is 140-of-313 (.447) in its five wins. The Cats have topped the 50 percent plateau just once (Purdue) this season.
Nearing a Milestone: Junior Jason Gardner enters play this week just 18 points shy of 1,000 career points. Should the guard from Indianapolis accomplish the feat, he would become the 31st player in school history to do so.
Stuck in the 60s: A Salim Stoudamire three-point FG with 29 seconds remaining at Michigan State enabled the team to avoid being held to less than 60 points for the first time in the regular season since Jan. 23, 1999, in a 60-59 loss at Oregon State. Since that game, Arizona is just 4-9 when failing to score at least 70 points.
Clamping Down: Arizona did manage to limit Michigan State to .379 FG shooting (22-of-58) last week, marking the fourth time in seven games this season. On the year, UA is limiting opponents to 42.0 percent shooting from the field and 28.9 percent from thee-point range.
In December: Arizona is 103-34 (.752) under Lute Olson in December, including a 63-17 (.788) mark since the 1990-91 season.
Troika: The junior triumvirate of Rick Anderson (15), Jason Gardner (15) and Luke Walton (17) accounted for 47 of the team's 60 points at Michigan State. That was the highest percentage of points scored by the trio (78.3) in any game this season, 14.4 percent less than the season average (356 of 557 team points). Incidentally, the two highest percentages this year have come in the two UA losses (73.2 vs. Kansas).
No Rest: Jason Gardner and Luke Walton combined to play 79 of 80 minutes at Michigan State. That is nothing new for the two most experienced Wildcats, who lead the team with 38.6 and 36.0 minutes per game, respectively. It was the fourth time this season that Gardner logged 40 minutes of action, boosting his career minutes per game average to 34.8, the UA career leader in that category.
Warming Up: Freshman guard Will Bynum continues to make solid contributions of late. Coming off a three-game swing against Big Ten opposition, the Chicago native averaged 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Ten of his 13 assists on the year have come in the last three outings.
Shot Blocker: Freshman Channing Frye notched a season-high five blocked shots last Saturday against Michigan State with four of those blocks coming in one single sequence. Not only does he lead the squad with 14 blocked shots, but he is the only Wildcat shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. The 6-foot-10 center is shooting .519 (140of-27) through the first seven games.
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.
Doubling Up: Jason Gardner continues to lead the squad with his 23.1 points per game average and has scored in double figures in all seven games this season. If he scores 10 or more points Thursday vs. Oregon State, he would equal his career-long streak of eight straight games in double figures, set Nov. 22-Dec. 28, 2000. He has 51 double-figure scoring games in his 77-game career.
Tough Shooting: The UA freshmen shot a collective 2-of-14 (.143) from the field against Michigan State. In the team's two losses this season, the sextet has connected on 11-of-52 (.212) field goal attempts.
On the Glass: Five-foot-10-inch Jason Gardner pulled down a season-high seven rebounds (four offensive) vs. Michigan State to lead the team. It marked the second time in Gardner's career that he has led the team in rebounds, and the first time solo (one shared). Interestingly, both of those occurrences came against Michigan State.
Three-Point Range: Jason Gardner is just two treys short of moving into a tie for fifth place on the UA career three-point FG list. Gardner currently stands in sixth place with 174 treys, two behind Miles Simon (1994-98). At his current career pace of 2.26 treys per game, Gardner could become just the second UA player with 200 career treys in 11 more games.
Steals, Please: One statistic not as prominent in the UA attack has been the steal. Last week the club tallied a season-low four thefts at Michigan State and are averaging just 7.00 steals per game, 0.86 less than last year. The 7.00 pilfers per game is the lowest figure since the 1992-93 season (6.89)
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.
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: The Wildcats return to action after the Christmas holiday by hosting the Fiesta Bowl Classic, honoring Bobbi Olson, Dec. 28 and 30 in Tucson. UA takes on Pepperdine in the opening round with tip-off scheduled 6 p.m. MST. Valparaiso meets West Virginia in the tournament's other featured contest. The winners and losers will meet on Dec. 30.