Jan. 23, 2003
Date: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2003
Time: Noon CST
Location: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300), Lawrence, Kan.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist/Billy Packer)
Game Data: Top-ranked Arizona (14-1, 7-0 Pac-10) steps out of conference play for a made-for-television intersectional match-up Saturday at Kansas (13-4, 3-1 Big 12) ... The Wildcats are 3-0 against ranked team this season with one of those wins coming on the road (Oregon) ... UA enters the game riding a season-best nine-game win streak ... The Jayhawks (88.4 ppg) and Wildcats (85.4 ppg) entered the week ranked first and fourth nationally in points per game and were both in the NCAA's top five in terms of scoring margin ... This is Lute Olson's first coaching appearance in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Rankings: Arizona reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls after spending the last two weeks at No. 2. The Cats spent the first six weeks of the season as the nation's top-ranked club. UA has been ranked in 262 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 677-236 (.742) and 485-144 (.771) 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 third most Pac-10 wins (269) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) and Oregon State's Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.780/269-76) 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 289-29 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 217 of its last 231 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner ... Olson is 1-4 against Kansas and 0-0 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Last Time Out: A 31-10 Arizona State run over 9:21 of the second half cut a 26-point Arizona lead to just five with just over five minutes to go in UA's 71-63 win on Thursday. Led by Jason Gardner, who made all six free throw attempts in the final three minutes, UA regrouped to hit eight straight free throws down the stretch to clinch the win. Gardner tallied a team-high 19 points to go with four assists and four steals. Bolstered by 53.3 percent shooting in the first half, Arizona jumped out to a 40-20 halftime lead.
Scouting Kansas: The Jayhawks (13-4, 3-1 Big 12) enter Saturday's contest looking to return to the winning side of the ledger after Wednesday's 60-59 loss at Colorado. Prior to Wednesday, KU had won 10 straight games. KU is the nation's top scoring team, averaging 86.7 points per game, so its not surprising that the Jayhawks' four losses have come when the team failed to score at least 80 points. As a team, Kansas shoots 50.0 percent (543-of-1085) from the floor, posts a +9.5 rebound margin, forces 18.7 turnovers and limits opponents to just 65.2 points per game. Individually, Nick Collison leads Kansas with averages of 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
The Series: Today's game marks the seventh meeting of the two schools with Kansas holding a 5-1 series advantage. Kansas has won the last two games in the series, which dates back to Dec. 31, 1979, including a 105-97 decision last December in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 0-2 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Lawrence and 1-2 in neutral-site games. See page 123 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Kansas 105, Arizona 97, Dec. 1, 2001: Eighth-ranked Kansas relied on its experience and patience in earning the 105-97 win in McKale Center. Paced by Drew Gooden's 23 points and career-high 15 rebounds, the Jayhawks jumped out to a 53-38 lead at the break and used key treys down the stretch from Jeff Boschee and Kirk Hinrich to hold off a late UA rally. Jason Gardner set a school record with eight three-point FGs and finished with a career high 34 points.
Quite a Matchup: Saturday's game features the nation's two highest-ranked teams to face each other this season (according to the Associated Press poll). No. 1 Arizona and No. 6 Kansas carry an average ranking of 3.5 into the contest. Prior to Saturday's game, two top-10 teams have played each other seven times in 2002-03, but none with as lofty of rankings as UA and KU. Here is the list:
Nov. 14, 2002: (8) Alabama 68, (3) Oklahoma 62 (average rank: 5.5)
Nov. 29, 2002: (7) Florida 83, (2) Kansas 73 (4.5)
Dec. 3, 2002: (10) Indiana 80, (9) Maryland 74 (9.5)
Dec. 15, 2002: (1) Arizona 73, (8) Texas 70 (4.5)
Jan. 3, 2003: (4) Arizona 81, (9) Oregon 72 (6.5)
Jan. 6, 2003: (6) Pittsburgh 72, (5) Notre Dame 55 (5.5)
Jan. 7, 2003: (9) Oklahoma 73, (3) Connecticut 63 (6.0)
Against Ranked Opponents: Since the Associated Press poll debuted on Jan. 20, 1949, Arizona has played 229 games against nationally ranked opponents and is 103-126 (.450) in those games. That record improves to 88-57 (.607) in the Lute Olson era and 67-35 (.657) in the last 10 years.
A Disturbing Trend: The Wildcats have a 3-12 record all-time against teams ranked No. 6 nationally, its worst record vs. any ranking slot in the Associated Press top 25. Arizona has lost seven straight games to the sixth-ranked team with its last win coming on Jan. 18, 1979, in a 70-69 home win over UCLA. In fact, UA has never won a true road game against team ranked No. 6 by the AP.
Rolling: The Wildcats moved its season-long win streak to nine games, its longest since the 2000-01 squad won 11 straight. Arizona's current 14-1 start is the fourth-best in school history, topped only by coach Fred A. Enke's 1942-43 and 1946-47 clubs that started 18-1 and 20-1, respectively, and Olson's 1987-88 team that also started 20-1.
Contesting: Arizona held instate rival Arizona State to just 35.1 percent shooting, marking the third time in the last five games (six overall) that the Cats have held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. On the season, UA opponents are shooting .405 from the floor, while that figure drops to 38.7 percent in conference play. In each of the last three games, Arizona has held an opponent to less than 30 percent shooting in one half of play.
On the Glass: Despite posting a 36-35 rebound margin Thursday, its slimmest advantage on the boards in league play, Arizona remained a spotless 13-0 when outrebounding the opposition. Rebounding has been a key to the Wildcats' success in 2002-03, as the team is outrebounding league opponents by a +10.0 margin. With no player averaging more than 6.9 rebounds per game, it take a team effort to accomplish the feat. Seven Wildcats are averaging 4.0 rebounds per game or better.
Hitting his Stride: Sophomore center Channing Frye has found conference play to his liking. In seven Pac-10 appearances, Frye has averaged 11.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots. He's also connected on 62.7 percent of his field goal attempts in that span. Prior to league play, Frye was averaging 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor.
Off the bench: Through 15 games this season, the Arizona bench has done a nice job of producing when called upon. All told, the Wildcat reserves average 30.6 points and 75.5 minutes per game. Those figures are 36.2 percent of the total points (1,267) and 37.7 percent of the minutes played (3,000).
One Away: Luke Walton is one steal shy of moving into 10th place on the all-time UA steals list. His 137 pilfers trails Matt Muehlebach's 138 total from 1987-91. Teammate Salim Stoudamire is one trey away from 100 in his 47-game career.
The Long and Short of it: One could expect Channing Frye, UA's tallest player, to be one of the team's best rebounders, but how about the shortest? For the second time in the last three games, 5-foot-10 inch Jason Gardner tied for the team lead in rebounds. Thursday's seven-rebound effort tied him with Frye for the team lead. Over the last three games, Gardner is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game (22 total) including a career-best 10 against USC on Jan. 16. In that span, only Frye's 23 total boards tops the guard from Indianapolis.
Stolen Moments: Led by Jason Gardner's season-high four and Rick Anderson's career-high three steals, Arizona amassed 12 thefts in Thursday's win, marking the seventh time the squad reached double figures this season. Arizona led the Pac-10 with an average of 9.33 steals per game. Three Cats (Gardner, Adams, Iguodala) are averaging 1.5 steals or better.
Solid in the Middle: Arizona got much-needed production out of the center slot on Thursday. Sophomores Channing Frye and Isaiah Fox combined to hit 10-of-14 field goal attempts (.714), grab 11 rebounds (four offensive) and score 21 points. On the season, the duo is shooting 61.3 percent from the floor (98-of-160), averaging 11.3 rebounds and 15.6 points per game.
Assisting the Cause: Freshman Andre Iguodala passed out a team-leading seven assists Thursday (against three turnovers), which set a personal best. Only Jason Gardner (9) and Luke Walton (8) have collected more in a game this season. The 6-foot-6 forward from Springfield, Ill., has proven to be a good assist man all year, as he ranks third on the team with 38 assists (2.5 apg) and posts a 1.65 assist:turnover ratio.
Stepping Up: No UA player has been better in non-conference competition than Hassan Adams. In eight such contests this season, the Los Angeles native leads the team with a 14.4 points per game average to go with 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals, while shooting 54.9 percent (50-of-91) from the field.
Half & Half: A 53.3 field goal shooting effort (16-of-30) helped fuel a 40-20 first half lead Thursday. It was also the eighth time this season that Arizona shot 50 percent or better from the floor in a half. The Cats, who shoot 45.9 percent for the season, have managed to top 50 percent in both halves of the same game once (Western Kentucky), and post a game percentage of 50 percent or better twice (WKU/Northern Arizona). Incidentally, Arizona is 14-0 when outshooting the opposition this season.
From the Line: Poor free throw shooting continues to hamper Arizona of late, as the team is shooting just 59.2 percent (58-of-98) over its last four games, including a season-low 11-of-20 (.550) in Thursday's win. While UA opponents are shooting .731 form the line in that span (38-of-52), the Cats are still outscoring teams by an average of five points per game. On the season, UA has made more free throws (246) than the opposition has attempted (224).
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 72-7 (.911) 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: The Wildcats returns to league play with a pair of home games nest week. Arizona hosts Stanford on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 p.m. MST and No. 25 California on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. MST.