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Fresno State Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/12/2007
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Game 9:? No. 21 Arizona (6-2) vs. Fresno State (5-4)

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Date: ? Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007

Time: ? 1 p.m. MST

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

Radio: ? Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

Tickets:?Online?or Call (520) 621-CATS

Game data: ? No. 21 Arizona (6-2, 0-0 Pac-10) returns home for an intrasectional match-up against Fresno State (5-4, 0-0 WAC) Sunday at McKale Center ... Due to final exams, which ended Friday, the Wildcats have played just one game in the last 14 days ... Arizona is 72-48 (.600) all-time against teams that currently reside in the Western Athletic Conference.

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The Rankings: ? After the win over Illinois, Arizona rose in the polls dated Dec. 10, checking in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.

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Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . will begin his 25th season at Arizona and his 35th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 780-280 (.736) and 589-187 (.759) at Arizona upon his return from a leave of absence, which was announced on Nov. 4 ... 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 775th collegiate victory on Jan. 24, 2007, and became Arizonaˇ?s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (327) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.764/327-101) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLAˇ?s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles)?... During his 24-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, ˇ®89, ˇ®90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 23 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, ˇ®88, ˇ®89, ˇ®93, ˇ®94, ˇ®98, 2003), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ˇ®81) and directed the UA program to the nationˇ?s third-best winning percentage over the past 20 years (519-142/.785) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 52 NBA Draft picks, including 31 at Arizona ?C 25 alone since 1990 ... Heˇ?s led UA to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 29 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons...Under Olson, the Cats are 344-40 (.896) in McKale Center and have won 272 of its last 296 home games ... He is assisted by Kevin Oˇ?Neill, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon.

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Last Time out: ? As has almost become commonplace, Arizona found itself in a 12-0 hole four minutes into the game and used the next 36 minutes to dig itself out in a 78-72 overtime win over Illinois last Saturday.? Jordan Hill, who posted career-high totals of 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Jerryd Bayless each scored 20 to help UA pull an overtime win.? Hillˇ?s bucket with 57 seconds left gave the Cats its first lead of the game, then his put-back with eight seconds to go sent the game into overtime before Bayless scored eight points in the extra session to clinch it.

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Scouting Fresno State : ? The Bulldogs enter play Sunday with a 5-4 record after an 84-71 loss to UNLV on Dec. 8.? Through nine games, Fresno State averages 72.8 points per game, shoots 42.1 percent (217-of-515), and is outrebounded by 4.4 rebounds per game.? Opponents shoot 43.6 percent from the floor and are outscored by one single point on the season.? Individually, five Bulldogs average in double figures, led by Kevin Bell, who averages 18.1 points? per game.? Hector Hernandez leads FSU with a 7.8 rebounds per game average.

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The Series: ? Tonightˇ?s game is the sixth meeting of the two schools with Fresno State holding a 3-2 series advantage.? Arizona won two of the first three games in the series, which dates back to Feb. 13, 1960, but the Bulldogs captured the last two, including an 87-62 win in Tucson on Dec. 9, 1980, in the last get-together.? All-time, Arizona is 2-2 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Fresno, Calif., and 0-0 in neutral-site games.? Please see page 100 in UA media guide for more series information.

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That Used to Be Us: ? Arizona welcomes Western Athletic Conference member Fresno State to McKale Center for the first time since December 1980.? The two institutions share a bit of history, as Arizona was a charter member of the WAC from 1962-78, compiling a 241-184 (.567) overall and 98-98 (.500) conference record in that span.? The Wildcats won the Western Athletic Conference championship in 1975-76 with an 11-3 league mark.

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A Different Look on the Sidelines: ? Prior to the Nov. 4 exhibition game, it was announced that UA head coach Lute Olson would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter.? It was announced on Dec. 7 that Olson would not return this season.? During this period, assistant coach Kevin Oˇ?Neill will handle the head coaching responsibilities.? Oˇ?Neill has 11 seasons of experience as an NCAA Division I head coach, where he compiled a 152-165 (.479) record while at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. Oˇ?Neill spent the last seven seasons in NBA circles.? During Olsonˇ?s leave of absence all games will be credited to Oˇ?Neillˇ?s coaching record.

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Player of the Week: ? Hill, a 6-foot-10 forward from Atlanta, Ga., posted 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in the come-from-behind 78-72 overtime win over Illinois on Saturday.? The sophomore shot 66.7 percent from the field (8-of-12), 77.8 percent from the free throw line (7-of-9) and collected two steals.? The effort was Arizonaˇ?s first double-double of the season and was the fourth of Hillˇ?s career.? Hill scored two key buckets at the end of regulation to erase what was a 13-point, first-half deficit and aid in the victory:? one with 57 seconds to go that gave Arizona its first lead of the game and the other with eight seconds remaining that sent the contest into overtime.? On the year, Hill is averaging 12.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while shooting 66.1 percent from the field.? His 23 points, 14 rebounds and 41 minutes played against the Fighting Illini were all career highs.? Hill was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the performance, a career first.

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Youˇ?d Better Be Wise: ? Guard Nic Wise had career highs in assists (8), points (11), rebounds (4), steals (3) and minutes played (35) against Illinois. Not a bad collection for a guy coming off the bench ˇ? more so when you note the single turnover he had in the game. He helped Arizona do more of the right things in the overtime period, with floor leadership that helped UA take the action to the bucket and get itself to the line for 11 made free throws in the extra frame. A couple of quick Nic moments from the game: his first assist led to the bucket that snapped the game-opening drought; his three-pointer capped UAˇ?s first comeback (trailing by 12) to tie the game at 16-all; another assist led to a Jerryd Bayless three that closed first-half scoring on a high point by cutting Illinoisˇ? lead under double digits; his blocked shot and rebound on the perimeter at the buzzer forced overtime.

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Perhaps itˇ?s Winterˇ?s Chill: ?Posting a 45.5 (25-of-55) field goal percentage may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but after Arizona shot a dismal 36.0 percent (9-of-26) in the opening half against Illinois nearly anything would be an improvement.? No matter what the reason for the sluggish start, UAˇ?s field goal percentage improved dramatically in the successive periods.? Arizona shot 52.0 percent (13-of-25) in the second half and 60.0 percent (3-of-5) in overtime.

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Tormented by Turnovers: ? Arizona opened the Illinois game with turnovers on its first seven possessions, then after finally getting itself on the scoreboard (trailing 12-2), the Cats settled down and finished with 10 more in the remaining 35 minutes and 41 seconds of action. Seventeen total turnovers isnˇ?t good but it pays to overcome the adversity. In the end, UAˇ?s defense helped cause (nine steals) the Illini to kick the ball away 19 times.? On the season, Arizona only has a +0.75 turnover margin.

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Doubling Up: ? In the past four games Nic Wise has closed in on Jerryd Baylessˇ? team lead in assists, currently trailing by a 4.9 to 3.4 (per game) margin. Nicˇ?s dished 21 in the past four contests with more work at the point, wherein Bayless slides to the off side. Bayless had 15 assists in those games, but also has been able to ratchet up his scoring a bit (21.5 ppg in the span) while working away from the initial point of attack.

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Hill Climbing: ? Forward Jordan Hill had career highs in points (23), rebounds (14) and blocked shots (3) in Chicago against Illinois, and one key reason was he also posted a career-high in minutes played, with 41 in the overtime game. His 36 minutes in regulation play would have been a career high. Not that he didnˇ?t have some difficulty with fouls; Hill played the last nine minutes or so in regulation with three fouls, and played the last two and a half minutes of overtime with four. But his ability to play under that duress was a hoped-for development entering the game. On the defensive glass, his 11 boards were nearly half of those available (Illinois had 14 offensive rebounds), and his 14 were the most for a Wildcat since Hill grabbed 14 against Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament on March 8, 2007.

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Playing from Behind: ? Courtesy of seven early turnovers, the Wildcats found themselves in an early 12-0 hole against the Illini before coming all the way to win.? Four times this season Arizona has erased a double-figure deficit (20 vs. Texas A&M, 11 vs. Virginia, 11 at Kansas) in a game, but UAˇ?s last two games have showed a bit of resiliency.? Those wins were the first time the Cats were able to do that eventually prevail.? What made the Illinois game so interesting was that Arizona initially fell behind by 12, rallied to tie the game at 16 only to fall behind by double figures again (13 with 2:10 to go in the first half.? UA remained in that hole (down 12 with 13:18 remaining) before outscoring Illinois 44-26 over the last 18 minutes including overtime.

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When it Matters Most: ?? Forward Chase Budinger has six career games in which he scored under 10 points. Itˇ?s not such an ominous deal ˇ? UA is 4-2 on those contests. Three of the games involved overtime, including the victory at Illinois Dec. 8. He got five of his eight total points in the extra period in Chicago, a fortuitous moment or two in which to put points on the board.

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The Lack of a Defender Helps: ? Arizona has scored 48 points while standing still the last two games ˇ? from the free throw line. Against No. 9 Texas A&M it was a 23-for-29 effort and against Illinois it was 25-for-32. A success rate of 79 percent can work, and surely did in those two hard-fought victories. The Aggies and Illini hit at a combined 53 percent rate from the line in those games. Making the extremely open looks at the basket is proving helpful, as is the in-close and attacking kind play that results in free throws. On the year, Arizona averages more than 19 points off made-FTs per game, nearly eight points more than its opponents.

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On the Glass: ? Arizonaˇ?s frontline productivity has been in question since the season started, but the group has answered the call of late.? Over the last five games, Arizona has outrebounded four opponents and posts a cumulative 177-146 rebound advantage (+6.2 rpg) in that span.? To date, Arizona is 3-1 this season when outrebounding the opposition.? UA outrebounded Illinois, 37-35, last Saturday which marked just the second time this season that the Fighting Illini had been outrebounded.

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Scoring 80: ? Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 165-19 (.897) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.? Arizona is 3-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

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Early Signees: ? The Arizona coaching staff signed four student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period.? Brandon Jennings (G, 6-0, 170) from Lakewood, Calif., Oak Hill Academy; Brendon Lavender (G, 6-4, 180) from Mesa, Ariz., Mountain View High School;? Emmanuel Negedu (F, 6-7, 230) from Bloomington, Ind., Brewster Academy; Jeff Withey (C, 6-11, 240) from San Diego, Calif., Horizon High School, will join the squad next fall.? According to rivals.com, this class was ranked as the seventh-best nationally.

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Up Next: ? Following todayˇ?s game, the Cats return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 19, when it travels to UNLV.? Tip-off for that contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST and will be televised by CSTV.

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