Feb. 12, 2002
Date: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 Time: 7:30 p.m. PST Location: Pauley Pavilion (12,800), Los Angeles, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: No. 9 Arizona (17-6, 10-3 Pac-10) opens its final road trip of the regular season Thursday at No. 20 UCLA (16-7, 8-4 Pac-10) in a Valentine's Night spectacular that would make any hoop fan's heart flutter ... The Cats and Bruins have gone to overtime four times since 1988, each of those have coming in Pauley Pavilion ... Arizona is 4-4 on the L.A. road trip over the last four seasons ... The Wildcats are averaging 78.8 points per game over its last five road games and are shooting .518 (146-of-282) in that span ... In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is 112-57 (.663) in conference road games, a Pac-10 best.
The Rankings: Arizona returned to the nation's top 10 after a pair of wins last week, rising to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 249 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 656-231 (.739) and 464-139 (.769) 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 (260) 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 278-28 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 206 of its last 219 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 22-17 vs. UCLA, including a 7-11 mark at Pauley Pavilion.
Last Time Out: Luke Walton scored a game-high 26 points and Salim Stoudamire added 17 to lead Arizona to the 85-68 win Thursday over Washington State. Walton also grabbed 10 boards, good for his seventh double-double of the season, to lead a solid UA defensive effort. Arizona limited WSU to 39.3 percent shooting, outrebounded them, 43-35, and held the Cougars to 68 points, the lowest opponent point total of the year at McKale Center. The Cats broke open the game with a 12-0 run early in the first half and never saw the lead dip below 10 points in the final 24 minutes.
Scouting UCLA: The Bruins (16-7, 8-4 Pac-10), return home for Thursday's game, where the squad is 4-1 this season in league play. UCLA dropped a 58-57 non-conference game Saturday at Villanova. UCLA averages 75.6 points, carries a +2.6 rebound advantage and shoots 48.0 percent from the field. Four Bruins average in double figures, led by junior Jason Kapono's 17.7 ppg average.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 61st meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 36-25 series advantage. The Wildcats have won seven of the last nine games in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, including a 96-86 win in Tucson on Jan. 19. All-time, Arizona is 16-8 in series games played in Tucson, 8-26 in Los Angeles, and 1-2 in neutral-site games. See page 87 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 96, UCLA 86, Jan. 19, 2002. Arizona used a 27-2 run over 6:16 of the second half to overcome a 20-point deficit and defeat UCLA, 96-86. Trailing 73-53 with 13:41 to go, the Cats erased 18 points over the next 3:18 and eventually took a five-point lead before the run ended. After a blistering first half, UCLA shot just 33.3 percent in the second half and scored only 28 points in the second half. Channing Frye and Jason Gardner each scored 19 points to lead five UA players in double figures.
Offensive Force: Luke Walton helped Arizona extend its winning streak to four games and grab sole possession of first place in the Pacific-10 Conference standings with a pair of wins last week. He averaged 23.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals in victories over Washington and Washington State, while shooting .667 from the field (18-of-27) and playing 73 total minutes. In Thursday's win over Washington, Walton tallied 21 points (8-of-11 FGs), six rebounds, four assists and four steals. He followed that with a 26-point, 10-rebound, four-assist effort vs. Washington State, which marked his third consecutive 20-point scoring game and posted his seventh double-double of the year. His efforts this week raised his season field goal percentage to .504 to go with averages of 15.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists.
Defensive Effort: In Saturday's win over Washington State, Arizona limited the Cougars to 39.3 percent shooting and outrebounded the club, 43-35. It marked the eighth time this year that Arizona has held an opponent to less than 40 percent from the field. On the year, Arizona is 14-0 when out shooting the opposition. Furthermore, Arizona held Washington State to just 23 first-half points, a UA opponent season low.
Stop Thief: The Arizona defense also forced 39 turnovers in last week's victories and collected 22 steals. The 22 pilfers is a season high in consecutive games this season. Jason Gardner led the squad with seven thefts, while Luke Walton added six.
Doing the Little Things: Despite hitting just 26.9 percent (7-of-26) of his field goal attempts last week and scoring 22 points, Jason Gardner certainly made his presence felt in other areas. The junior guard equaled a season high by passing out seven assists in both games this week and combined for seven steals. It marked the 15th time in 23 games this year that Gardner has collected at least five assists in a game. In his career, Arizona is 37-7 (.841) when Gardner collects at least five assists.
Topping 20: Luke Walton has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games. Prior to the start of the streak on Jan. 31, Walton had topped the 20-point plateau just four times in the first 87 games of his collegiate career. This season, Walton (6) ranks second on the squad behind Jason Gardner's 11 20-point games.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,283 career points, which places him 18th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Frank Smith, who tallied 1,329 points from 1980-83. Incidentally, Gardner has 65 double-figure scoring games in his 92-game career.
Long-Range Marksman: Freshman Salim Stoudamire continues to display skills that make him one of the league's best three-point shooters. On the year, the guard from Portland, Ore., has connected on 49-of-111 (.441) three-point attempts, a figure that ranks seventh in the Pac-10. In his last 10 games, Stoudamire is shooting .500 (23-of-46) from behind the arc. Incidentally, his three-point FG percentage now ranks him second on the Arizona career three-point FG percentage list, trailing only Steve Kerr's .573 long-range accuracy mark.
Warming Up: After shooting just 56.5 percent (48-of-85) from the free throw line in its previous three games, Arizona did make significant improvement in that area on Saturday. Against Washington State, Arizona hit 19-of-23 (.826) of its charity tosses. That effort raised its season free throw percentage to 72.0.
On the Glass: One of the keys to victory this week was Arizona's ability to control the boards. In the two wins this week, Arizona posted a cumulative +4.0 rebound advantage. On the year, Arizona is 10-1 when outrebounding the opposition.
A Milestone of Sorts: In scoring 11 points last Saturday vs. Washington State, junior Rick Anderson reached the sort of milestone that only sports information types recognize. It marked the 30th time in his career that Anderson had scored in double figures. As a testament to his breakout offensive year, 20 of those 30 double-figure game have come this season. His season averages of 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds are 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds higher than his career averages entering this season.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 56-6 (.903) 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, and are 11-3 this year.
Top-10 List: Jason Gardner continues to move himself up various career top-10 lists. In addition to being the career leader in minutes per game (35.2), he also ranks second in career three-point field goals (216), second in three-point FG attempts (594), eighth in steals (155), 10th in assists (421), free throws (341), and starts (92). Gardner and Damon Stoudamire are the only UA players with 200 or more career three-point field goals.
Heavy Rotation: Look for sophomore forward Michael Schwertley to be a greater part of the regular rotation, as the former walk-on put forth a good effort last week vs. the Washington schools. In a combined 23 minutes, Schwertly averaged 4.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists, while shooting .600 (3-of-5) from the floor. Known for his defensive intensity and leaping ability, Schwertley gives Arizona some much-needed depth at the three-man position.
Nation's Best: Jason Gardner was named one of 20 finalists for the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year award. He is averaging 20.1 points, 3.4 boards and 4.9 assists through 23 games and is one three finalists from Pac-10 schools.
Positive Ratios: During the current stretch in which the Wildcats have won eight of 10 ballgames, Arizona has done a good job of moving the ball around without turnovers. It its last 10 games, Arizona has amassed 183 assists against 150 turnovers, good for a +3.3 turnover margin. All told, Arizona has posted more assists than turnovers in seven of its last 10 games.
Straight Shooter: Despite an uncharacteristic 3-of-12 effort from the floor on Saturday, Channing Frye continues to be one of the conference's top shooters. His overall field goal percentage of .608 currently ranks second in the league, while his .643 percentage in conference games only ranks first. Additionally, Frye ranks as one of the nation's best big man free throw shooters. In research supplied by STATS, Inc., Frye's .803 (57-of-71) FT percentage ranks fifth nationally by players 6-foot-10 or taller.
Bench Points: Saturday's win over Washington State marked the first time this season that every available player on the roster actually made a game appearance. Junior walk-on Fil Torres made his collegiate debut and missed a three-point field goal attempt, while sophomore Jason Ranne scored his fist collegiate points with a trey in one minute of action.
50 Percent Club: With Luke Walton shooting 69-of-119 (.580) from the floor over his last 10 games, he has upped his season FG percentage to .504. He is one of four UA players (with a reasonable number of attempts) that currently boast a field goal percentage of 50 percent or better (Frye/Fox/Anderson).
Packed House: Saturday's attendance of 14,580 was the largest at McKale Center since March 4, 1999. To date, UA has had eight crowds in excess of McKale Center's 14,545 listed capacity. The Cats average a league-leading 14,532 fans per game.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following Thursday's game, Arizona travels across town to face USC on Saturday, Feb. 16. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 3 p.m. PST and will be televised by ABC-TV.