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Cats Visit Bruins
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/05/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 5, 2010

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Date: Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time: 12:30 p.m. (PT)

Location: Wooden Court, Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, Calif.

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

Tip Off Time: Arizona concludes the 2009-10 regular season slate with a visit to Pauley Pavilion to take on #25-ranked UCLA at 12:30 p.m. (PT)

Catch the Action: Completing 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 aired its final broadcast this past 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 hosted the show and asked 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. All episodes of the Niya Butts Show are archived on the University of Arizona website and can be viewed through the All-Access Player located in the top right-hand corner of the main athletics page at www.arizonaathletics.com.

Series Notes: Arizona trails the all-time series against UCLA by a 44-19 mark dating back to their first-ever meeting on January 8, 1977. The Bruins have captured the last five meetings in the series, including a 67-58 verdict at McKale Center to open up Pac-10 play on New Year's Day. Doreena Campbell had a game-high 20 points for UCLA while Darxia Morris tossed in 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Davellyn Whyte led the Wildcats in that game with 16 points while Soana Lucet and Ify Ibekwe had 12 points each and combined for 25 rebounds. Arizona is just 8-23 all-time at Pauley Pavilion , but did pick up its last win in the series in Westwood during the 2006-07 campaign.

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA, which entered the USA Today Coaches' Poll Top 25 this week in the last spot, has wrapped up second place in the Pac-10 as well as the #2 seed in the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament. The Bruins have won seven-straight games and 11-of-12 overall, their only loss coming at #2-ranked Stanford on February 4. UCLA is 11-2 at home this season and 7-1 in conference contests. Freshman Jasmine Dixon leads the Bruins in scoring at 15.3 points per game as well as rebounding with 7.9 per contest. Markel Walker also chips in with 10.7 points per game while Doreena Campbell averages 10.1 points per outing.

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 erased all but a single point of a 15-point second half deficit, but wasn't able to get all the way over the hump as the Wildcats fell at USC on Thursday evening, 55-53. With all-American Ify Ibekwe on the bench for most of the first half with two fouls, the Wildcats went down 32-20 at the break and by three more points early on. However, the Cats methodically worked their way back into the contest with Ibekwe on the floor and closed to within one point in the final moments. USC took a 2-point lead with 20 seconds to play, but a three-pointer by sophomore guard Brooke Jackson with five seconds to play missed the mark and the Wildcats did not get another shot off. Ibekwe led all scorers with 18 points, 16 of them in the second half, and also grabbed 7 rebounds. Davellyn Whyte added 12 points and 5 rebounds. Kari LaPlante led USC with 13 points.

Last Time Out for UCLA: The Bruins built double-digit leads at the start of each half and held off Arizona State at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday evening, 63-59. Jasmine Dixon led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points while Darxia Morris had 12 points and both Erica Tukiainen and Doreena Campbell added 10 points apiece. Despite committing 22 turnovers, UCLA forced one more by Arizona State and shot 51 percent for the game. Danielle Orsillo led Arizona State with 14 points while Tenaya Watson added 13 points and 5 rebounds and Alex Earl hit a trio of three-pointers off the bench to finish with 11 points.

Statistical Comparison: Both Arizona and UCLA are near the top of the Pac-10 in scoring while the Bruins are the 2nd-best defensive team in the league with a 56.8-point average per game to the opposition. UCLA owns a better three-point percentage than Arizona, but the Wildcats are nearly 40 points better at the free throw line. UCLA is also one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, holding a plus-7.2 rebounding margin per game while the Wildcats are yielding just under one more rebound per contest to its opponents.

Looking Ahead: With its loss on Thursday evening to USC, the Wildcats were elminated from the possibility of earning a first round bye in the upcoming 2010 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament at the Galen Center. A win against UCLA and two losses by Oregon would still leave the Wildcats on the outside looking in with regards to the top six as Oregon holds the tiebreaker with its win over USC earlier this season. Arizona can do no better than 7th place, but could also slip into 8th position if Washington wins both of its games this weekend and the Wildcats drop their finale to the Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

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 14th place with 1,101 points and would move into 13th position ahead of Yolanda Turner if she can score just over her 14.0 average through three more games. 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. 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 after Alexis Gray-Lawson of California and Jayne Appel were holdovers from the previous season.

Record in Reach: In a season when Ibekwe achieved the 1,000-point milestone, she is also closing in on a number of Arizona rebounding records. With 320 rebounds and at least two games to play, Ibekwe would break the single-season rebounding record of 339 held by Shawtinice Polk from the 2003-04 season. Ibekwe tallied 336 boards last season, but missed two games due to injury to fall just short of a new benchmark. With a current total of 848 for her career, Ibekwe is 3rd all-time for career rebounds with an aim of reaching the school's career mark of 921 held by Adia Barnes early next season.

Double Down: WIth 1,000 career rebounds within her grasp, Ibekwe would not only become the first Arizona player to reach that milestone, she would also join an elite group of players in Pac-10 history. Ten players in league history have grabbed 1,000 boards for their career, each of whom also tallied at least 1,000 points for their career. Ibekwe would become the 11th player to accomplish that feat in her career at some point during the 2010-11 campaign.

Hometown Heroes: The annual Arizona trip to play USC and UCLA is a homecoming of sorts for two Wildcats as both Ify Ibekwe and Reiko Thomas attended local power Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif. The prep standouts played their high school basketball less than 25 miles from the UCLA campus. Ibekwe also spent time at Pauley Pavilion during her high school days as her older sister, Chinyere, was a four-year member of the UCLA program.

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 nine 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 8.8 points in those nine games, grabbing double-digit rebounds against both Washington State and Cal State Northridge while connecting on 27-of-32 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 13-of-32 (.406) from beyond the arc, including a 4-for-5 performance against Washington. Despite seeing fewer minutes per game, Jackson is still averaging 7.2 points and 3.1 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 is third on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game as she has tallied in double figures in 18 games and scored at least 8 points in all but three games. 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.

Power Outage: For the fourth-straight game, Arizona failed to reach the 60-point mark on the scoreboard, which has been a bit of a benchmark for the team's success this season. Arizona is winless in seven games when scoring 59 points or less. If Arizona can score at least 60 points, it has posted a record of 13-5.

Doing It With Defense: For the 20th time this season and seventh time in a 8-game span, Arizona limited the opposition to a field goal percentage under 40 percent after allowing USC to shoot just 36.5 percent on Thursday evening. The Wildcats accomplished that feat in all four of its February wins after setting that standard in each of the first six games of the campaign. Arizona has posted a 12-8 mark this season when holding the opposing team under the 40 percent mark.

Bright Future: 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 averaged 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 steals and 4.0 assists for the 24-5 Screaming Devils. Last Saturday, the Screaming Devils won their opening game in the GHSA Class A State Tournament, a 62-36 triumph over Bacon County, before falling to Calvary Day in a 2nd round game on Wednesday evening.

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 11.4 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 89.0 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 6th in the league in scoring at 16.0 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.2 per contest and 7th in 3-point field goal percentage at .358. Ibekwe is also 5th in steals with 2.1 per game, tied for 6th in blocked shots with a 1.2 average and 8th in field goal percentage at .479. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th field goal percentage (.426), 3rd in field goal percentage defense (.378), and 5th in scoring (66.2) and 3-point field goals per game (4.9).

National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in field goal percentage (52nd, .428), personal fouls per game (63rd, 15.6) and field goal percentage defense (85th, .379). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 5th in the nation in rebounding at 11.6 per contest, 13th in double-doubles with 16 and 68th in field goal percentage at .478 while Soana Lucet is 97th in shooting percentage at .451. Davellyn Whyte is 80th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.3, 96th in scoring at 16.1 per game and 84th in 3-point field goal percentage at .359.

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: With her 14-point, 11-rebound performance against California on February 25, Ibekwe moved into second place in the Arizona record books, now owning 38 career double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 16-of-28 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 passed Adia Barnes for the second spot while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe would more than likely pass early on next season.

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 16.0 points per game while shooting .358 from three-point range, .435 from the field and grabbing 4.0 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch during Pac-10 play, averaging 17.2 points to go along with 3.7 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 80.0 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 28 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 448 points on the season, good for 3rd place all-time. She sits just 16 points behind Adia Barnes in second place. Shawntinice Polk holds the personal mark with 538 points.

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