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Wildcats, Cougars Meet on Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/06/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 6, 2010

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Date: Thursday, January 7, 2010

Time: 6:00 p.m. (PT)

Location: Friel Court, Pullman, Wash.

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

Tip Off Time Both Arizona and Washington State will be looking to pick up their first Pac-10 win of the campaign when the two teams meet at Friel Court in Pullman, Washington on Thursday, January 7 at 6:00 p.m. The two teams will meet again in Tucson with the Cougars visiting McKale Center on Thursday, February 4 for a 7:00 p.m. contest.

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 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.

Last Time Out: Another see-saw battle saw Arizona come up on the short end for the second time in three days as USC escaped McKale Center with a 81-78 overtime victory over the Wildcats. Arizona fell behind by a 32-11 count with six minutes remaining in the first half, but battled back with a 17-minute stretch that saw the team outscore USC, 45-11. With a 13-point lead in tow, the Wildcats ran into trouble again as USC incredibly regained the lead with 3:37 to play after a 19-2 dash. The Cats scored 7 of the last 10 points to force overtime, but fell behind by seven in the extra session and were unable to ever regain the lead. Freshman guard scored an Arizona freshman record 34 points while hitting 6 three-pointers while Ify Ibekwe tallied a season-high 21 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Ashley Corral led the way for USC with 27 points, hitting 5-of-12 three-point attempts, while Heather Oliver tossed in 19 points and hit four treys of her own.

Series Notes: Arizona leads the all-time series against Washington State, 26-21. Last season, the Cougars won both regular season matchups, but Arizona proved the third time was the charm as the Cats earned a 79-72 win in the opening round of the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament. Washington State had won three-straight meetings before that Pac-10 Tournament game, countering a 3-game winning streak by the Wildcats over the 2006-08 seasons. Last season in Pullman, Arizona watched a 9-point halftime deficit go by the wayside as Washington State outscored the Cats, 43-25, after the break to earn a 68-58 victory. Ibekwe led Arizona with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in that game while Jazmine Perkins tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 12 points and 9 rebounds off the bench by Rosie Tarnowski.

Head Coach Niya Butts: Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending 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).

Not So Nice New Year: The month of January has provided a mixed bag for the Wildcats since its first contest during the opening month of the year back in 1975. The Wildcats won that game on January 17, 1975 against Utah, 46-36, but are 104-179 all-time in the month of January. Arizona posted a 32-46 record during the 2000's in the month of January, but finished it with a four-year run going just 6-27 dating back to the 2005-06 campaign. The last winning month of January for the Wildcats came in 2004-05, a 31-day stretch that saw the Cats go 5-4.

Scouting the Cougars: Washington State is 5-8 on the season after dropping its first two Pac-10 games to Oregon State (63-49) and Oregon (98-92) on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Cougars have lost 3-of-4 heading into the game, but are 3-2 at home on Friel Court after their most recent win, a 74-57 win over San Francisco. Third-year head coach June Daugherty, in her 21st season overall as a head coach, played collegiately at Ohio State and was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame in 2001. Freshman KiKi Moore leads the offense for Washington State with 14.1 points per game while sophomores April Cook and Jazmine Perkins average 13.8 and 11.5 per game, respectively. Perkins is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.4 per contest and was an All-Pac-10 Freshman Team selection last season.

Preseason Picks: Arizona was picked to finish 9th in both the Coaches and Media polls that were released last week. In each vote, the Wildcats were picked to finish ahead of just Washington. Nine-time defending champion Stanford was picked to add another crown to its mantle in both polls. Junior forward Ify Ibekwe was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 team after earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and All-Defensive First Team honors last season.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoining the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her prep career after tallying 29 points in a win for the Screaming Devils against rival Thomson. She also had eight rebounds, six steals and four assists in the game. Warthen is currently averaging 29.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game for the 9-4 Devils. Following a 39-point outing, Warthen registered a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 61-27 win over Evans. Last season, she scored a school-record 743 points while averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 4.0 assists per game as a 1st-team all-state honoree.

Defending Their Turf: The Wildcats have continued to make it quite difficult for opposing teams to put the ball in the basket since head coach Niya Butts took over prior to the 2008-09 campaign. Visiting teams averaged just 56.9 points per game while shooting a paltry .375 from the field last season. The Cats allowed 70 or more points only twice, one of those coming in an overtime game, and held the opposition under 59 points in over half of their contests that included four sub-50-point allowances. This season, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 64.9 points per game after limiting Nevada and Alabama A&M to .294 and .266 shooting percentages, respectively.

Power Surge: After struggling through a three-game losing streak that saw the Wildcats score an average of just 54 points per game, the team exploded for 86 points in last Tuesday evening's win over Alabama A&M. The Cats set season-highs in field goal percentage, field goals made and assists while matching the 10-game best for blocked shots. The .635 shooting mark was the 4th-best for a single-game in program history, falling .024 behind the school record of .659 set against USC in January of 2004. The Wildcats have won all three games this season when scoring 80 or more points and is 4-0 during the Niya Butts era when eclipsing the 80-point plateau.

Overtime Extras: For the second-straight season, Arizona and USC needed five extra minutes to decide the outcome of their game in McKale Center. The Wildcats are now 12-17 all-time in overtime games with just three wins in 12 chances at McKale Center. Arizona has played the most overtime contests against Oregon State, winning only 1-of-5 outings, while the Cats are also 0-for-3 against USC in games needing an extra session. The Wildcats are 2-2 in overtime under Niya Butts, both losses coming to the Women of Troy.

Conference Standouts: With the first weekend of Pac-10 play in the books, Arizona still has several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounds at 12.2 per contest while Davellyn Whyte is 3rd in the league in scoring at 16.3 per game. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 7.4 per outing, good for 8th place. Ibekwe is also 2nd in steals with 2.7 per game and 5th in blocked shots with a 1.4 averaeg while Reiko Thomas is second in free throw shooting with a .889 percentage. Whyte is 6th in three-point percentage at .395 and 2nd in 3-pointers per game with 2.7. As a team, the Wildcats are 3rd in field goal percentage (.427) and 5th in field goal percentage defense (.372), blocked shots (3.6) and 3-point field goal percentage (.330) while checking in at 4th in 3-point field goals per game (5.3), sharing that spot with California.

National Notables: In the latest release of national statistics after last weekend, Arizona is among the top 100 in both field goal percentage (75th, .427) and field goal percentage defense (84th, .372). The Cats are also 65th in personal fouls per game (15.9). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is back up to 2nd in the nation in rebounding at 12.2 per contest, 4th in double-doubles with eight and 64th in steals per game with 2.7. Davellyn Whyte is 38th in the NCAA in 3-pointers per game with 2.7, 73rd in 3-point field goal percentage at .395, 88th in scoring at 16.3 per game and 97th in field goal percentage at .474.

Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.

Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.

All-American Girl: Her impressive numbers also landed Ibekwe on the Associated Press All-America honorable mention list. She became just the 7th player in Arizona history to be named to one of the All-America teams and the first since Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk earned the honor following the 2004-05 campaign. Ibekwe was also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women's basketball and was chosen to attend the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Trials over the summer.

Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently in third place in the Arizona record books with 30 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 8-of-12 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently 7 double-doubles behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could pass this season if she can post the double digits in 9 of 10 games on average the rest of the way.

Milennium Milestone: With a total of 819 points for her career, Ibekwe is on track to become the 16th player in Arizona history to amass 1,000 points. She would need to average just over 10 points per game to accomplish the feat by the end of the regular season. She is currently averaging 11.9 points per game after tallying 15.7 per contest last season. Ibekwe is 127 points from entering the Top 20, a spot held by Felecity Willis at 967 points.

Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte logged 44 minutes in her Arizona debut, tallying a game-high 27 points while adding 8 rebounds in the 75-70 overtime win against Iona. She then scored 11 points against Miami (Ohio) and finished the weekend shooting almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 14.7 points per game while shooting .366 from three-point range, .455 from the field and grabbing 4.2 rebounds per contest.

Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte made her first assault on the Arizona record books on Sunday afternoon when she tallied 34 points against USC. Her personal tally matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte is nearly halfway toward that total after scoring at least 20 points in three of the last four. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting second overall in the league with 2.7 three-point shots made per contest.

Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 64 times through the first 12 games for an average of over five per game. With Jackson and Whyte combining to shoot almost 38 percent from threedom, the Cats have increased their clip from distance by 50 percentage points from last season after shooting only 27.9 percent.

More About The Three Ball: The Cats are hoping to challenge the 1996 season, the best statistically in program history in regards to three-point shooting. That team hit 176 for the season and connected at a .382 clip. If the current Wildcats average six made three-pointers through the season and play 31 games like last season, the team would finish with a school-record 186 treys..

Long Way From Home: The Wildcats have had a number of players in the program from foreign countries in recent years, but none has had to come further to Tucson than junior forward Soana Lucet. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho is a native of New Caledonia, a collection of islands located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Lucet is the first female from New Caledonia to play collegiately in the United States and was named her country's best Under-18 player two years ago. Lucet had her best game with the Wildcats against San Diego with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

Family Ties: Several members of the Wildcats have ties to either other Arizona teams, other colleges or professional clubs. The father of Tasha Dickey is currently an assistant football coach at Kansas State while Devon White, the father of Davellyn Whyte, is on staff with the Washington Nationals and was a Major League Baseball all-star during his career. Brooke Jackson welcomed younger sister, Cami, to the Arizona track and field team this season.

Up Next: Arizona wraps up its swing through Washington by taking on the Huskies on Saturday, January 9 in a mid-day matinee at 12:00 p.m. The Cats will then return home to host the Oregon schools next weekend, hosting Oregon State on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. before Oregon comes to McKale Center on Saturday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m.

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