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Men's Basketball Opens With Sam Houston State in Fiesta Bowl Classic
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: December 19, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Game 9:  No. 24 Arizona (5-3) vs. Sam Houston State (6-2)


Date:  Monday, Dec. 19, 2005

Time:  6:30 p.m. MST

Location:  Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.

Radio:  Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)

TV:  FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

ONLINE: Live video of the Central Florida vs. Western Kentucky game at 4 p.m., and delayed video of the Arizona vs. Sam Houston game at 6:30 p.m., are available to subscribers to All-Access, Arizona's premium multimedia service. Live audio of the Arizona game is also available to subscribers. Free live stats for both games are available.

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Game Data:  No. 24 Arizona (5-3, 0-0 Pac-10) comes home to host Sam Houston State (6-2, 0-0 SLC) Monday in the 21st annual Fiesta Bowl Classic ... The Wildcats enter the contest riding a three-game win streak ... In 20 previous Classics, Arizona has a 39-1 record ... When also counting UCF and Western Kentucky, this year marks the first since 2000 that all three visiting teams are first-time Fiesta Bowl Classic participants.


The Rankings:  Arizona remained No. 24 in the current Associated Press Top 25 and fell out of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll after two wins last week.  UA has been ranked in 307 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.


Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 23rd season at Arizona and his 33rd overall as a college head coach with a career record of 746-259 (.742) and 554-167 (.768) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 700th collegiate victory on Jan. 3, 2004, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (305) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.778/305-87) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles)  ... During his 23-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 21 consecutive seasons, 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 seven times (1986, ?'88, ?'89, ?'93, ?'94, ?'98, 2003), 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 18 years (479-118/.802) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 18 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 27 overall in his career, making him one of only four head coaches in NCAA history to record 27 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 325-33 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 253 of its last 270 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 0-0 against Sam Houston State and a spotless 39-0 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play.


Last Time Out:  Arizona forced 24 Utah turnovers and held the Utes to 36.4 percent shooting and a season-low 43 points in Saturday’s decisive 73-43 win.  The Wildcats jumped out to an early nine-point lead and led by double figures for the last 13 minutes.  UA outscored Utah 45-22 and posted a 21-13 rebound advantage in the second half.  Hassan Adams led all players with 27 points, while Mustafa Shakur added 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.


Scouting Sam Houston State:  The Bearkats bring a 6-2 record into tonight’s game following a 68-46 loss at Houston on Dec. 10.  As a team, SHSU shoots 44.5 percent from the field (194-of-436), including 29.9 percent (35-of-117) from three-point range, while averaging 67.2 points per game.  Opponents shoot at a 42.6 percent clip and average 62.0 points per game.  Three Bearkats average in double figures, led by Ryan Bright’s 14.4 ppg average.


The Series:  Tonight’s game is the first meeting of the two schools.  Arizona has a 3-2 (.600) record all-time against Southland Conference foes.  In its history, Arizona has faced only one of the three Fiesta Bowl Classic participants previously, as the Wildcats downed Western Kentucky, 107-68, in Tucson on Nov. 23, 2002.


Leading the Way:  Hassan Adams led Arizona to its third consecutive victory with a season-high 27 points, four rebounds and four assists in Saturday’s 73-43 win at Utah.  Adams knocked down a career-high 13 field goals (in 19 attempts) and added a season-high two blocked shots and a steal in the effort.  The senior from Los Angeles scored 14 points in the first half (a UA season high) as the Wildcats jumped out to a seven-point halftime lead and never looked back.  It was Adams’ second consecutive game with 27 points.  On the season, Adams is averaging a team-leading 19.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.


One Continues, Two Stopped:  Arizona won its third straight game Saturday at Utah to improve its record to 5-3 on the season.  The 30-point win at Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center snapped the Utes’ 21-game homecourt winning streak, which was the fifth-longest in the country.  It also ended Utah’s 37-game homecourt win streak against non-conference opponents, which was the third-longest streak in the nation.


Random Thoughts:  By holding Utah to a season-low totals of 43 points and a 36.4 (16-of-44) field goal percentage Saturday, Arizona is allowing the opposition an average of only 61.5 points per game and a 42.0 field goal percentage through eight games.  The Wildcats have held four of eight opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in 2005-06. Incidentally, Utah’s 43 points scored Saturday was its fewest scored in the Huntsman Center since scoring 34 in a 34-32 win over New Mexico on Jan. 31, 1976.  It was also Utah’s worst home loss since a 68-25 loss to Wyoming on Jan. 16, 1943.


“Phog” Alert:  A win this week would give Arizona head coach Lute Olson his 747th career collegiate coaching victory and move him past legendary Kansas mentor Phog Allen into 15th place on the NCAA all-divisions coaching victories list.  Olson enters the week with a career record of 746-259 (.742) in 33 seasons on the NCAA Division I level.  Allen was 746-264 (.739) in 48 seasons as a head coach, 39 of those at Kansas.


Tough on the Perimeter:  A great deal of Arizona’s success in holding opponents to a low field goal percentage has been the team’s ability to lock down the perimeter, especially the three-point line.  Through eight games, UA opponents are shooting just 29.3 (39-of-133) percent from behind the arc.  In Saturday’s win over Utah, Arizona limited the Utes to 2-of-13 (.154) shooting from long range.


Stolen Moments:  Saturday’s win at Utah saw Arizona put forth another solid defensive effort as the Wildcats forced Utah into 24 turnovers and held them to a season-low 16 field goals.  Additionally, UA posted season-high totals of seven blocked shots and 15 steals.  Through eight games, Arizona is averaging 11.88 steals per game and forcing the opposition into an average of 22.25 turnovers per game.


Straightening things Out:  The Wildcats shot 47.6 percent (30-of-63) from the field at Utah, which was the team’s second-best field goal percentage of the season.  It actually would have been higher if the UA reserves hadn’t gone 2-for-9 from the floor over the last four minutes of the game.   Arizona connected on 18-of-33 (.545) field goal attempts in the second half at Utah, which continues a trend that has seen the Cats shoot .523 (46-of-88) from the field in the second half of its last three games.  Incidentally, Arizona is 4-0 this season when it shoots better than the opposition and 45-5 (.900) since the start of the 2003-04 season when shooting better than the opposition.


More Like It:  After being outrebounded in the first four games of the season, Arizona has bounced back to win the rebounding battle in each of its last four contests.  The Wildcats are 3-1 when outrebounding the opposition.


Percolate:  Senior Hassan Adams productivity has certainly increased of late.  Over his last four games, the 6-foot-4 senior guard from Los Angeles Averaging 24.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game over his last four, while shooting 58.2 percent (39-of-67) from the floor.  Saturday at Utah, seven of his career-best 13 field goals were mid-range jumpers.  On the year, Adams is shooting 48.5 percent (63-of-130) from the field.


Starting Fast:  Junior Mustafa Shakur got the Cats off on the right foot Saturday as he tallied the team’s first six points en route to a stellar all-around game.  The 6-foot-3 junior from Philadelphia registered 12 points, a team-high six rebounds, five assists and four steals in 30 minutes.  In his career, Arizona is 30-6 when Shakur passes out five or more assists in a game.  Incidentally, Shakur has eight steals in his last two games.  On the season, he is averaging 10.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.


On the Rebound:  After scoring just eight points in the previous two games, senior Chris Rodgers bounced back with 13 points and four steals Saturday at Utah.  The 6-foot-4 guard from Portland, Ore., ranks second on the club with a 10.6 points per game average and 20 steals.  He’s collected three or more steals four times in 2005-06.


Balance:  Arizona practically used its entire roster to post a 34-32 rebound advantage against Utah.  Led by Mustafa Shakur’s season-high six boards, 10 of the 12 players to see action collected at least one carom, while five grabbed three or more.


First Half Flourish:  Hassan Adams tallied 14 of his season high 27 points in the first half as the Wildcats built as much as a nine-point lead in the first half at Utah.  Bolstered by an Adams trey just before the halftime buzzer, UA led 28-21 at the break, which was its largest halftime lead of the season.  All told, Arizona is 4-0 this season when leading at halftime.


At the Other End, too:  Freshman Marcus Williams continues to see his game develop on the collegiate level as he is averaging 12.7 points and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from the field, over his last three games.  Saturday against Utah, Williams displayed a bit of defensive ability as well, tallying a season-high three steals.  The 6-foot-7 Seattle product ranks third on the team with 15 steals in eight appearances.


Close is Better:  UA head coach Lute Olson speaks often of the importance of shot selection.  The effort in Saturday’s win definitely backs that up.  In the first half at Utah, Arizona connected on 12-of-30 attempts (.400), where nine of those attempts were lay-ups or inside the lane.  In the second half, UA hit 18-of-33 attempts (.545), where 15 of those shots were lay-ups or inside the lane.


Finding Positives:  Despite the fact that Arizona currently holds a 5-3 record, the Wildcats have shown the ability to post large scoring runs in each game to date:

29-1 run over 10:43 vs. Virginia, Nov. 27 (UVa went 0-of-12 with seven turnovers during the run)

21-6 run over 7:12 vs. Michigan State, Nov. 23 (no MSU field goals in last 5:44 of regulation)

20-4 run over 9:10 vs. Kansas, Nov. 21 (KU hits 3-of-first-12 FG attempts with nine TO)

21-5 run over 7:57 at Houston, Dec. 3 (two UH FGs in last eight minutes of first half)

21-9 run over 12:23 vs. Connecticut, Nov. 22 (UA hits 7-of-11 FG in run)

26-13 run over 13:04 vs. Saint Mary’s, Dec. 10 (nine SMC turnovers during run)


Scoring 80:  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 143-18 (.888) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.  Arizona is 1-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points.


Tops in the Pac-10:  In the annual poll of media members who regularly cover the Pac-10 Conference, Arizona was selected as the team to beat for the league title for the fourth year in a row and 11th time in the last 16 seasons.  The Cats received 23 of a possible 34 first place votes and 325 points overall.  Stanford (294), UCLA (263) and Washington (238) rounded out the top four spots.  It is the 11th time in the last 16 seasons that Arizona has been tabbed the preseason Pac-10 favorite.  Arizona has gone on to win the league title eight times in that span.


Early Signees:  Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period.  Chase Budinger (F, 6-7, 190) from Carlsbad, Calif., LaCosta High School; Jordan Hill (F, 6-8, 210) from Atlanta, Ga., The Patterson (N.C.) School;  and Nic Wise (G, 5-10, 180) from Kingwood, Texas., Kingwood High School, will join the squad next fall.


Up Next:  Following tonight’s game, Arizona closes out the Fiesta Bowl Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 21, against either UCF or Western Kentucky.  Depending on today’s result, Arizona will play either in the consolation game at 4 p.m. MST or the championship game at 6:30 p.m. MST.

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