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Cats Close Home Slate This Weekend
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/24/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 24, 2010

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Date: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

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

Tip Off Time: Arizona returns home to host its final two-game weekend homestand of the 2009-10 season, starting with a matchup with California on Thursday, February 25 in McKale Center with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.

Catch the Action: Entering his third 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.

Coaches Show: The Niya Butts Show will broadcast once again this Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer will host the show and ask questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. The show will broadcast from the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the northwest end of McKale Center.

Series Notes: The Wildcats hold a 29-22 advantage in the all-time series with the Golden Bears, including a 28-19 mark in Pac-10 games. However, California has had the better of things lately, winning 8-straight meetings between the two teams that includes a 73-53 decision at Haas Pavilion in Berkely on January 28. Alexis Gray-Lawson scored 39 points in that game for California, which posted a 44-29 victory in the rebounding column. Ify Ibekwe led Arizona with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots while Davellyn Whyte added 11 points. Arizona picked up its last win over California in a 80-76 verdict in Berkeley on January 22, 2006 and has not won in McKale Center since capturing a 80-69 decision on January 7, 2005. The Wildcats are 16-8 all-time in McKale Center against the Golden Bears.

Scouting the Golden Bears: One of the hottest teams in the Pac-10, California has won 10 of its last 12 games since starting the Pac-10 schedule with three-straight losses. Gray-Lawson, one of the front-runners for Pac-10 Player of the Year, leads the Pac-10 in scoring at 18.6 points per game and tallied the season's single-game high of 47 points against Oregon State on January 23. Head coach Joanne Boyle is in her 5th year at California and led the Golden Bears to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen berth last season.

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).

Last Time Out: Arizona was in control of in-state rival Arizona State for almost 30 minutes last Saturday, but the last 10 minutes provided the Sun Devils a chance to erase a 8-point deficit and hand the Wildcats a 57-49 defeat at Wells Fargo Arena. The Wildcats held a 38-30 lead with 10:22 remaining, but the Sun Devils used a 23-7 run over 9:36 to flip the 8-point margin into their favor and hold the Wildcats to just one field goal over a six-minute span. Soana Lucet had her 4th double-double of the season, tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Ify Ibekwe had a game-high 17 rebounds. Davellyn Whyte added 10 points and a pair of steals. Despite claiming a 45-32 rebounding victory, Arizona committed 19 turnovers and forced just 8 by Arizona State with 7 of those coming in the first half. Danielle Orsillo, Becca Tobin and Jenae Fulcher all had 10 points apiece to lead the offense for the Sun Devils.

Last Time Out for California: The Golden Bears used a 51-28 rebounding advantage and made 24 free throws compared to 13 for Oregon in claiming a 79-73 win over the Ducks and a weekend sweep of the Oregon schools. Alexis Gray-Lawson and DeNesha Stallworth each had 19 points to lead the Golden Bears, who survived a 3-for-27 (.111) performance from three-point range by making 23-of-37 (.622) of their two-point attempts. Layshia Clarendon added 17 points while Stallworth and Gennifer Brandon shared game-high honors on the glass with 11 boards apiece.Taylor Lilley led Oregon with 24 points while Nia Jackson added 16 points and Amanda Johnson tossed in 13 points for the Ducks, who are just one game ahead of Arizona in the Pac-10 standings for 6th place and a first round bye in the 2010 Pac-10 Tournament in the second week of March.

Statistical Comparison: Both Arizona and California average 68 points per game, but the Golden Bears have yielded five points fewer per game to the opposition. The Wildcats do possess better shooting numbers across the board, including a 43-point edge in three-point shooting, but the Golden Bears have averaged three more rebounds per game than Arizona and possess a plus-6.2 rebounding advantage while the Wildcats have allowed just under one more rebound per game to its opponents.

Moving Forward: Arizona has turned the tide on its season with a 4-2 record thus far in the month of February after posting a 3-6 mark last month. The Wildcats opened the month with a sweep of the Washington schools, then split their pair of games in Oregon before adding the non-conference win over Cal State Northridge last Tuesday. Arizona also went 4-1 in November of this season.

Milennium Milestone: With a 17-foot jumper at the 2:20 mark of the first half on February 6 against Washington, junior forward Ify Ibekwe became the 16th player in Arizona history to record 1,000 career points. She currently sits in 15th place with 1,054 points and will move into 14th position ahead of Kim Conway with seven points against the Golden Bears on Thursday night. The last player to join the 1,000-point club was Ashley Whisonant, who reached that career milestone against Oregon State in the semfinal round of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament.

Selective Company: Ibekwe became the 9th active player in the Pac-10 and 7th player this season to achieve 1,000 points for her career with her 17-point performance against Washington. This Thursday's game sets up a matchup between two of the club's members in Ibekwe and Alexis Gray-Lawson of the Golden Bears. Kayla Pedersen of Stanford, Danielle Orsillo of Arizona State, Sami Whitcomb of Washington, Talisa Rhea of Oregon State and both Taylor Lilley and Micaela Cocks from Oregon have also joined the 1,000-point club during the 2009-10 campaign.

Building Blocks: Measuring progress is a subjective task, but the Arizona coaching staff must feel like it is moving in the right direction after completing its second weekend sweep of the season with the win over Washington. Arizona has already eclipsed its Pac-10 win total from a year ago, marking the first time the Wildcats have won more than four conference games since the 2004-05 campaign. Arizona has bested its overall win total from each of the past four campaigns.

Changing of the Guard: After fielding the same starting lineup in 18-of-19 games to start the season, Arizona head coach Niya Butts has changed things for each of the past six contests, inserting sophomore guard Reiko Thomas in place of fellow sophomore guard Brooke Jackson. Looking to both reward Thomas for excellent play of late as well as give Jackson a chance to energize the team as a reserve, Thomas has averaged 10.0 points in those six games, shooting 48.6 percent from the field while averaging 5.7 rebounds and connecting on 24-of-29 free throw attempts.

Action Jackson: A shift to the bench is not always a bad thing as Brooke Jackson has demonstrated since exiting the starting lineup on February 4 against Washington State. Jackson had been mired in a 12-for-55 (.218) slump from three-point range after making 15-of-30 (.500) over the first seven games of her Arizona career. Since then, however, she has made 9-of-23 (.390) from beyond the arc, including a 4-for-5 performance against Washington. Despite seeing fewer minutes per game, Jackson is still averaging 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over that span.

Scoring Punch: Junior forward Soana Lucet has been one of the most consistent scoring threats for the Wildcats this season. She has seen her scoring average rise to 13.4 points per game as she has tallied in double figures in 17 games and scored at least 8 points in all but one game. She also has four 20-point games to her credit, including a season-high 28 point performance in the record-breaking victory over Oregon on January 16.

Board Work: Rebounding has been an up-and-down proposition for the Wildcats this season and the last six games have been no different. After dominating the glass in two wins over Washington State and Washington at home, the Wildcats suffered through a rebounding deficit of 10 or more boards for the sixth time this season in being outrebounded 37-23 at Oregon State. However, Arizona has bounced back and averaged 44.5 rebounds and a plus-14.5 margin last week against Cal State Northridge and Arizona State.

Turnover Trouble: For the 22nd time in its 25 games, Arizona committed more turnovers than it was able to force in a game. The Wildcats are 10-12 in those games this season, but is a perfect 3-0 when they are able to turn that statistic into their favor. The Wildcats committed 19 miscues against Arizona State, but managed just eight turnovers against the Sun Devils that included only one in the second half.

Doing It With Defense: For the 18th time this season and fifth time in the past six games, Arizona limited the opposition to a field goal percentage under 40 percent after allowing Arizona State to shoot just 35.7 percent last Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats have accomplished that feat in all four of its wins this month after setting that standard in each of the first six games of the campaign. Arizona has posted a 12-6 mark this season when holding the opposing team under the 40 percent mark.

Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members earned national recognition. Candice Warthen, a senior guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, was named the ESPN RISE girls basketball player of the week for the Southeast region after tallying a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 68-27 win over Evans. Rated the #20 point guard in the 2010 class by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Warthen also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark this season and is averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.4 steals and 3.9 assists for the 23-4 Screaming Devils. She has led her team to the Region 4A Championship and a state tournament berth.

Conference Standouts: Arizona continues to have several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe leads the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.6 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 88.2 percent. Davellyn Whyte is tied for 4th in the league in scoring at 16.5 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.3 per contest, 7th in 3-point field goal percentage at .360 and 9th in field goal percentage with a .470 tally. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.8 per outing, good for 10th place while Jackson is 10th in 3-point field goal percentage at .340. Ibekwe is also 3rd in steals with 2.3 per game, 7th in blocked shots with a 1.3 average and 7th in field goal percentage at .491. As a team, the Wildcats are tied for 3rd in scoring (68.0), field goal percentage (.436) and field goal percentage defense (.377), and 5th in 3-point field goals per game (5.1).

National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in scoring (79th, 68.0), field goal percentage (36th, .436), personal fouls per game (77th, 15.9) and field goal percentage defense (83rd, .377). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 5th in the nation in rebounding at 11.6 per contest, 16th in double-doubles with 14, 56th in field goal percentage at .491 and 94th in steals per game at 2.3 per game while Soana Lucet is 99th in shooting percentage at .451. Davellyn Whyte is 75th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.3, 87th in scoring at 16.5 per game, 81st in 3-point field goal percentage at .360 as well as 75th in field goal percentage at .450. Reiko Thomas has achieved enough free throw attempts to be included, checking in at 11th from the charity stripe at 88.2 percent.

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.

Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently tied for second place in the Arizona record books with 36 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 14-of-21 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest single-season total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently tied with Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could match this season if she can post the double digits in every remaining regular season game plus three postseason contests.

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 shot almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438) in wins over Iona and Miami (Ohio). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 16.5 points per game while shooting .360 from three-point range, .450 from the field and grabbing 3.9 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch during Pac-10 play, averaging 18.4 points to go along with 3.5 rebounds while shooting 44.0 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free throw line.

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.

Rewriting History: The Wildcats lone freshman began flirting with history early on in her debut season before finally making it as she tallied a school-record 39 points against Oregon on January 16. She finished 12-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and connected on 10-of-12 free throws. She bested the previous single-game scoring record of 35 points held by three different players. At the time, it was the most points scored by a Pac-10 player in 2009-10 and is still the 2nd-highest total of the season.

Freshman Phenom: Whyte has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 24 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance against Oregon, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance 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.

Well Seasoned: As Whyte adds her name to list after list in the Arizona record books, another milestone that is within her grasp is the single-season freshman scoring record. Whyte currently has 413 points on the season, good for 3rd place all-time. She sits just 51 points behind Adia Barnes in second place. Shawntinice Polk holds the personal mark with 538 points, a mark Whyte could reach at her current scoring average of 16.5 points in seven more contests.

Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte matched that mark after just 20 games this season. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting third overall in the league with 2.3 three-point shots made per contest. She was the first Pac-10 player this season with two games of 30-plus points and has scored in double figures in 20-of-25 outings.

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