March 4, 2002
Date: Thursday, March 7, 2002 Time: approx. 6:40 p.m. PST Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Game Data: Fifteenth-ranked Arizona (19-9, 12-6 Pac-10) heads to Los Angeles for the second incarnation of the Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, March 7-9 at the Staples Center ... The Wildcats, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, will face intrastate rival and No. 7 seed Arizona State (14-13, 7-11 Pac-10) in Thursday's quarterfinal ... In the four previous Pac-10 Tournaments, Arizona was a No. 1 seed twice (1988, '89) and a No. 2 seed twice (1987, '90) ... This will be the first time UA and ASU will have played each other three times in a season since the 1979-80 campaign.
The Rankings: Arizona split a pair of games last week and fell to No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and held steady at No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 252 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 658-234 (.738) and 466-142 (.766) 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 (262) 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 280-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 208 of its last 222 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John ...Olson is 32-7 vs. Arizona State.
Last Time Out: Bolstered by a 30-4 run to open the second half, Arizona handed California its second-worst defeat in school history, 99-53, on March 2. The Cats, who led by 19 points at the break, held Cal to 30 percent shooting in the second half and just four points in that half's first 10:23. Six UA players finished in double figures, led by Rick Anderson's 17 points, and Luke Walton came up three rebounds shy of his second career triple-double.
Scouting Arizona State: The Sun Devils (14-13, 7-11 Pac-10) enter Thursday's quarterfinal having lost its last three regular season games, each a nationally-ranked foe. ASU holds the opposition to 73.1 points per game and forces nearly 18 turnovers per game. The Sun Devils feature a balanced offensive attack with three players averaging in double figures and 10 players averaging double-figure minutes played. Chad Prewitt leads the club with a 17.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game averages.
The Series: Tonight's game marks the 201st meeting (an the first-ever at a neutral-site) of the two schools with Arizona holding a 127-73 series advantage. The Wildcats have won 13 of the last 14 games in the series, which dates back to 1914, including an 83-75 win in Tucson on Feb. 20. All-time, Arizona is 72-25 in series games played in Tucson, 55-48 in Tempe, and 0-0 in neutral-site games. See page 86 in the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 83, Arizona State 75, Feb. 20, 2002. Salim Stoudamire scored a team-high 24 points and Will Bynum grabbed two key rebounds late to preserve an 83-75 victory over Arizona State. Stoudamire, who was 6-of-9 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line, led a UA attack that outscored ASU 28-15 and outshot them .778-.484 from the free throw line. Isaiah Fox, making his first start since Dec. 15, responded with eight points and 12 rebounds that led to a 42-37 rebound advantage for the Wildcats.
Streaking: As Arizona heads to Los Angeles for the Pac-10 Tournament, it does so looking for its 20th win of the season, which would mark the 15th consecutive year in which the Wildcats have won at least 20 games. UA also enters the conference tournament riding a streak of nine consecutive Pac-10 Tournament wins and three straight tourney titles (1988-90). No other Pac-10 team has as many wins (9) or a higher winning percentage (.900) in the league's postseason tournament.
This Kid's Alright: Gardner helped Arizona to a second place finish in the Pac-10 and a No. 2 seed in postseason tournament by averaging 23.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals in a pair of games last week. He shot 59.3 percent from the floor (16-of-27), including 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from three-point range, and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line. He opened the week by scoring a game-high 33 points Thursday against Stanford, marking his fourth 30-point game of the season. Against the Cardinal, Gardner hit 10-of-17 FG attempts, including 6-of-8 from behind the arc, and added two assists and four steals. On the year, Gardner is averaging 20.6 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He is 22 points shy of becoming just the 10th player in Arizona history to score 600 points in a single season.
Board Work: The Wildcats outrebounded Cal, 48-27, Saturday to equal a season high with a +21 rebound margin (Purdue) and post its second-highest rebound total of the year. Eleven of the 14 players to see action grabbed at least one board. How important is it for Arizona to have an advantage on the glass? The squad is 12-1 this year when outrebounding the opposition. The Cats have had just two games this year in which it has posted a +10 rebound advantage.
On the Run: UA opened the second half last Saturday with a 30-4 run over the first 10:23 and at one point scored 21 consecutive points en route to the 46-point win over California. Here is a look at Arizona's big second half runs this season:
26 points - 30-4 run over 10:23 vs. California, March 2 25 points - 27-2 run over 6:16 vs. UCLA, Jan. 19 20 points - 35-15 run over 12:22 vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6 19 points - 25-6 run over 8:28 at Texas, Nov. 17 12 points - 24-12 run over 7:16 vs. Kansas, Dec. 1
Shot Selection: Over his last five games, Jason Gardner is shooting 53.6 percent (37-of-69) from the field and 55.8 percent from three-point range (24-of-43). The late-season push leaves him just six treys away from becoming just the third player in school history to make 100 or more three-point field goals in a single season, joining Steve Kerr (1988) and Damon Stoudamire (1995).
On Target: Salim Stoudamire has stepped up his shooting in recent weeks, as he has hit 31-of-63 (.492) of his attempts from the floor and 16-of-33 (.485) from behind the arc in his last seven games. In that span, he is averaging 15.3 points per game.
Moving Up: Jason Gardner enters play tonight with 1,398 career points, which places him 16th on the all-time UA scoring list. Just ahead of the guard from Indianapolis is Joe Nehls, who tallied 1,409 points from 1976-80. Incidentally, Gardner has 70 double-figure scoring games in his 97-game career.
Behind the Arc: Arizona hit 14 treys (32 att.) in Saturday's win, which marked the sixth time the squad has made at least 10 field goals from behind the arc. Interestingly, the Cats are just 2-4 in games in which it collects double-figure treys. Arizona averages 7.86 three-point field goals per game this season, a figure that ranks second in the Pac-10.
High-Octane: In sprinting to its highest offensive output of the season Saturday (99 points), Arizona placed six players in double figures, a new season high. This year, Arizona is 7-0 when five or more players finish in double figures. Additionally, Arizona is 39-3 (.929) when scoring at least 90 points since 1997-98, though two of those losses (Kansas/Connecticut) have come this season.
Against the Best: The Wildcats finished the regular season 8-6 against nationally-ranked opponents and have faced ranked opponents in four of its last five games. All told, 50 percent of Arizona's 2001-02 opponents have been ranked nationally at the time of the game.
Top Cat: UA finished the Pac-10 slate with a 12-6 record, marking the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that the Cats have won at least 12 conference games, a feat matched by no other league foe. Dating back to the 1984-85 campaign, Arizona has averaged 15 wins per season. The only time in that span that Arizona failed to win at least 12 league games was 1996-97, the year the Cats won the national championship.
Clamping Down: The Wildcats put together a pretty good defensive effort on Saturday, as the squad limited California to an opponent-low 53 points scored and .328 field goal percentage. Arizona held Cal to just 19 field goals in the game (nine in the second half) and the Golden Bears' 23 points in the second half equaled a UA opponent low point total for any half this season. Arizona has held nine opponents to less than 40 percent field goal shooting this season.
Off On the Right Foot: Junior Rick Anderson is averaging 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in the first half of his last three games. In that span, he has scored 31 of his 43 points and grabbed 21 of 29 rebounds in the game's first 20 minutes.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 58-7 (.892) 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 13-4 this year.
Assisting the Cause: Led by Luke Walton's season-high 11 assists, Arizona totaled 22 assists against just 10 turnovers in the win over Cal. The +12 assist:turnover ratio was the best of the season and marked the sixth time that UA has tallied at least 20 assists in a game. It was also Walton's fifth double-figure assist game of the season.
On Target: Luke Walton, who is on pace to become the first frontcourt player to lead the Pac-10 in assists since the league began tracking the statistic in 1974-75, has nine double-doubles this season (in addition to a triple double), including four of the points-assist variety. He passed the 400 career assist plateau last Saturday.
400 Club: If the numbers hold up, the 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats has a chance to accomplish a rare statistical feat: have four players score at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (578 points) is already over the mark, while Luke Walton (378) leads a group of three players each within 39 points of 400. Obviously, the Cats would need to play a few more games, but it is possible that this club could join the 1999-2000 team as the only two to do it since 1987-88.
In March: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 25-9 (.735) in the month of March.
Record-Setting Season: Arizona set a school record for average attendance this season, averaging 14,544 fans per game, which broke last season's record of 14,533. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance each season since 1984-85.
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: A victory puts Arizona into the semifinals against the winner of the California/UCLA game at 8:30 p.m. PST on Friday. A loss sends the team back to Tucson in anticipation of the NCAA Tournament announcement on Sunday, March 10.