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Game Notes: Jan. 29, 2009
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/29/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 29, 2009

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Date: January 29, 2009

Location: Bank of America Arena, Seattle, Wash.

Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)

Tip Off Time: Arizona makes its annual trip to Washington this weekend as the opening round of Pac-10 play comes to an end. The Wildcats visit Washington on Thursday evening before heading across the state to take on Washington State on Saturday afternoon. The two schools will make the return trip to Arizona during the final weekend of February.

Catch the Action: Entering his second season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women’s basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 30 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs.

Arizona State Recap: The youthful Wildcats were taught a harsh lesson in the first rivalry game for most as the Sun Devils ran away with a 75-38 victory. The Cats scored a season-low 12 points in the first half of play while shooting just 6-of-28 (.214) from the field. Arizona committed 26 turnovers in the game and had only four assists. Ify Ibekwe was the only Arizona player to score in double figures, tallying 13 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Reiko Thomas made her return after sitting out the UCLA game and tallied 7 points and a team-leading 7 rebounds.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Not only has the Arizona playing roster seen its share of turnover, but the coaching staff is also entirely new for the 2008-09 season. On April 3, 2008, Niya Butts was named the 8th coach in the history of Arizona women’s basketball. Butts comes to Tucson after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.

Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).

Series Notes: Washington currently holds a 31-15 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams. The Huskies are in the midst of a 7-game winning streak over the Wildcats after Arizona had captured six-consecutive meetings dating back to the 2002-03 campaign. Only five times during the 46-game series has a team failed to create a streak of at least back-to-back wins. The Wildcats have dropped the last three meetings in Seattle, but did pick up their last win over the Huskies during the 2004-05 campaign, a 67-63 triumph to start off Pac-10 play.

Last Meeting: A 23-point, five-assist performance from Ashley Whisonant was not enough for the Wildcats as Washington came to McKale Center and edged out a 60-58 triumph on Feb. 21, 2008. Current Husky leading scorer Sami Whitcome shared team-high scoring honors with 11 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Ify Ibekwe had 9 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort for the Wildcats.

Scouting the Huskies: Washington picked up its only win of the Pac-10 slate thus far in its opener, a 71-58 triumph over in-state rival Washington State. Since then, however, the Huskies have dropped six-straight Pac-10 games, including a pair of 8-point losses last weekend at USC and UCLA. Whitcomb is the only Washington player averaging in double figures at 11.4 per game, but both Kristin Kingman and Laura McLellan chip in with 9.8 points per contest. Lydia Young leads a balanced rebounding effort at 4.1 per game.

Future Cats: Head coach Niya Butts was happy to announce the signing of the first two players for the 2009 signing class earlier in the season. Senior guard Davellyn White of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix is the first prep player to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for Butts. Whyte, the daughter of former Major League Baseball veteran Devon White, averaged 18 points per game in her junior campaign, leading the Lady Knights to a 19-9 record and the 5A Desert Valley Region championship. She was an all-state selection and was the runner-up in the region player of the year voting.

Joining Whyte with three years of eligibility remaining is Brooke Jackson, who is currently a freshman at Mesa Community College. A 5’9” shooting guard, Jackson prepped at Mountain View High School and was a two-time East Valley Region Player of the Year and two-time all-state selection. She is the 5A all-time single-season leader in scoring after tallying 849 points as a junior. Jackson also holds state 5A records for free throws made in a game (18) and season (216) as well as career steals (482). A solid outside shooter, Jackson finished her prep career with a 41 percent mark from three-point range.

Bottom Out: The last two games have seen the Wildcats experience their worst offensive outputs of the season. The Cats have scored 38 points in each of the last two contests, combining to make just 25 field goals and just one from beyond the arc. The Cats have also turned the ball over a combined 48 times over the 40 minutes of play and only once over the four 20-minute halves has the team tallied at least 30 points.

Injury Update: The Wildcats moved a little bit closer to getting back to full health on Saturday as Reiko Thomas returned to the lineup after sitting out the UCLA game with an injured ankle. She played 22 minutes off the bench and did not appear to be experiencing any lingering effects. Fellow freshman Courtney Clements also appears fully healed from an ankle injury of her own sustained against USC two weeks ago.

The Butler Did It: Freshman guard Amani Butler made her collegiate debut in the closing stages of the Arizona State game last Saturday. She logged four minutes of playing time and recorded one rebound, one assist and one steal.

Up Next: Arizona concludes its three-game road swing on Saturday, January 31 as the Wildcats head across the state to take on Washington State at 2 p.m. The Cats then start a stretch with 5-of-7 games at home beginning with a visit from Oregon State on Thursday, February 5 at 7 p.m.

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