Game 28: Arizona (18-9, 9-7) at California (14-14, 6-10)
Date: Thursday, March 1, 2007
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Haas Pavilion (11,877), Berkeley, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: Arizona (18-9, 9-7 Pac-10) opens the final regular season road trip Thursday night at California (14-14, 6-10 Pac-10) ... In the previous five seasons, Arizona is 6-4 on the Bay Area road swing ... A win tonight would clinch a winning record in true road games this season ... Currently, the Wildcats are 5-4 in such contests after finishing 5-7 on the road last year ... UA leads the Pac-10 with a 79.6 ppg scoring average, but has only scored that many points once in the last 12 games.
The Rankings: For the second consecutive week, Arizona is unranked in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Arizona fell out of both polls on Feb. 19. Prior to Feb. 19, the Wildcats had been ranked in each AP poll this season.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 779-278 (.737) and 587-186 (.759) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 775th collegiate victory on Jan. 24, 2007, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (325) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.763/325-101) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 24-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 consecutive seasons, which is the longest active and 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 seven times (1986, ?'88, ?'89, ?'93, ?'94, ?'98, 2003), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & ?'81) and directed the UA program to the nation’s second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 344-40 (.896) in McKale Center and have won 272 of its last 296 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon ... Olson is 40-11 against California.
Last Time Out: Chase Budinger and Marcus Williams combined for 42 of Arizona’s 61 points, including 22 of 31 in the second half, to lead the Wildcats to a 61-58 road win on Sunday. The duo scored 11 of Arizona’s last 12 points over the game’s final five minutes to withstand a late Sun Devil charge. Despite being outrebounded for the first time in 14 games, UA limited ASU to 37.7 percent shooting for the game and just 27 second-half points. The difference in the contest may have been points in the paint, where UA held a 16-2 advantage.
Scouting California: The Golden Bears (14-14, 6-10 Pac-10) enter Thursday’s game riding a two-game losing streak following an 88-64 loss last Saturday at USC. As a team, Cal averages 70.6 points per game, shoots 45.1 percent (712-of-1,578) from the field and posts a -2.9 per game rebound margin. Defensively, the Golden Bears allow 70.3 points per game and a .466 field goal percentage. Three Cal players average in double figures, led by Ryan Anderson’s 16.5 points per game figure. Anderson leads Cal’s active players with an 8.0 rebounds per game mark.
The Series: Tonight’s game marks the 74th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 48-25 series advantage. Arizona has won 15 of the last 17 meetings, including the last, a 94-85 win in Tucson on Dec. 28. All-time, Arizona is 25-8 in series games played in Tucson, 20-16 in Berkeley, Calif., and 3-1 in neutral site games. See page 99 of the UA media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 94, California 85, Dec. 28, 2006: Once the Arizona starters got it going, the Cats gave California all it could handle in a nine-point win. Trailing 24-20 with 9:22 to go in the first half, UA closed the period on a 31-9 run and put the game out of reach. The UA starting five shot .632 from the floor for the game and built as much as a 29-point lead in the second half. Olson went to the bench with about nine minutes to go and the reserves surrendered 20 of those points down the stretch.
In March: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 47-19 (.712) record in the month of March. In that span, 23 of those games have been played in the regular season and UA is 17-6 (.739) in them.
Closing Strong: As the Wildcats head into the last weekend of the regular season, it does so with history on its side. Over the last decade, Arizona has closed the regular season by winning 70 percent of its games when looking at the last two games of the regular season. UA is 14-6 during the final weekend of the season, including a 4-4 record on the road. The mark includes five UA sweeps (1999, 2000, ?'01, ?'03, ?'04) and one by the opposition (1997).
Coming from Behind: Arizona trailed at the half in Sunday’s game at Arizona State, marking the 10th time in 27 games this year that UA has been outscored in the opening period. The Cats have rallied to win five of those contests, including three in true road games. UA is 13-4 when leading at the break.
Points at a Premium: The Wildcats tallied a season-low 61 points in Sunday’s win, which was the fifth time in the last 12 games that Arizona has not broken the 70-point barrier. The Cats are 2-4 this season when scoring less than 70 points. In Pac-10 play, Arizona is averaging 76.6 points per game as a team.
Close Calls: UA’s three-point win Sunday was the team’s seventh game this season decided by five points or less. In those games, Arizona is 2-5, but each of those victories has come on the road. Close calls haven’t been to Arizona’s liking, as the club is 16-4 in contests decided by six points or more.
Credit the Defense: The Wildcats may not have been offensively efficient in Sunday’s win, but its defense deserves a bit of credit for a nice road win. Arizona limited Arizona State to 58 points (27 in the second half) and just 37.7 percent shooting (20-of-53). With the game decided in the second half, UA limited the Sun Devils to a 34.8 FG percentage (8-of-23), including 4-of-15 (.267) from three-point range. It was the sixth time this season (third in Pac-10 play) that Arizona has held an opponent under 40 percent shooting from the field. When Arizona posts a higher field goal percentage than the opposition this season, the squad is 16-2.
Rampant Theft: Through a balanced attack, Arizona collected nine steals in Sunday’s win. Four of the Wildcats’ five starters had two pilfers apiece, as it was UA’s second-highest steals total in the last 11 games. In Pac-10 play, Arizona ranks third in the conference with an average of 6.25 steals per game. Additionally, Mustafa Shakur enters tonight’s game just two steals shy of 10th place on the UA career steals list. Shakur has 149 steals in 127 career appearances to date and trails Luke Walton (1999-2003), who amassed 151 steals as a Wildcat. Shakur currently ranks sixth in the league with a 1.48 steals per game average.
Leading the Way: Chase Budinger led Arizona to a win in its only Pac-10 game last week by totaling 23 points, six rebounds and two assists, while shooting 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from the field. The freshman forward also connected on 3-of-7 (.429) three-point attempts and added two steals in a season-high 38 minutes. Budinger scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead UA, including two free throws with one second to go that provided the final margin of victory. In 27 games, Budinger is averaging 16.1 points, 5.8 boards and 2.0 assists per game, while shooting 50.2 percent from the field.
20-Point Games: Chase Budinger’s 23-point night (mentioned above) at Arizona State was his sixth 20-point game of the season and the 28 for UA this season. Budinger’s six 20-point efforts is tied for second on the club (Radenovic) and trails only Marcus Williams’ 10. Mustafa Shakur (4) and Jawann McClellan (2) also have combined for six.
On the Glass: Arizona State outrebounded Arizona, 33-28, Sunday to snap a streak that had seen the Wildcats outrebound its last 12 Pac-10 opponents and 13 of 16 to date. Oddly enough, though, Arizona is a spotless 3-0 when being outrebounded. In conference play, Arizona posts a +4.6 rebound margin.
Stepping In: Junior forward Bret Brielmaier definitely impacted Sunday’s game, as the 6-foot-6 native of Mankato, Minn., posted season-high totals of eight points and six rebounds in a career-best 27 minutes played. Brielmaier hit all three shots from the floor in the effort. The display boosted his per game averages to 1.8 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Breaking 100: Mustafa Shakur enters Thursday’s game one three-point field goal shy of 100 for his career. In 127 career games played, the Bob Cousy Award finalist has connected on 99-of-270 (.367) three-point field goal attempts.
A Familiar Theme: Arizona’s 6-foot-3 senior guard from Philadelphia, Pa., also enters tonight’s game just five assists shy of becoming the fourth player in Arizona history (accomplished five times) to pass out 200 or more assists in a single season. Mustafa Shakur currently averages 7.2 assists per game (195 in 27 games) and has passed out five or more assists 26 times in 27 games this season. He is on pace to tally more assists in his career than any other UA player in the Lute Olson era.
Rare Indeed: Forward Ivan Radenovic stepped to the line last week as the Pac-10’s free throw percentage leader (122-138/.878) and promptly missed 2-of-5 charity attempts at Arizona State. It was the first time this season that Radenovic has missed three free throws in a game this season with five or fewer attempts. There was a stretch earlier this season where Radenovic went 12 games without missing three total free throws and in that span he sank 95.0 percent of his attempts (57-of-60). His current .851 free throw percentage ranks second in the conference.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 161-19 (.894) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 11-1 this season when scoring 80 or more points.
Always On the Run: Early this season, Arizona has shown the ability to post large scoring runs with some regularity. Here are the ones of note to date:
25-0 run over 7:45 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 19 (UA went 11-of-16 during run: NMSU 0-of-10)
34-11 run over 9:00 vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 15 (UA went 12-of-16 during run: NAU 3-of-16)
31-9 run over 7:54 vs. California, Dec. 28 (UA went 11-of-13 during the run; Cal 4-of-14)
28-9 run over 11:22 vs. Samford, Nov. 22 (SU went 3-of-16 with four turnovers during run)
20-2 run over 5:59 vs. Louisville, Dec. 5 (UL went 1-of-10; UA 7-of-8 during the run)
21-4 run over 8:08 vs. Illinois, Dec. 2, 2006 (UA 8-of-12 FGs during run)
25-8 run over 9:01 vs. Washington, Feb. 3, 2007 (UW 4-of-12 FG with five turnovers during run)
24-8 run over 9:17 at San Diego State, Dec. 9, 2006 (SDSU 4-of-18 FG with five TO during run)
18-3 run over 4:15 at Virginia, Nov. 12 (UA went 6-of-8 during run: UVa 1-of-8)
23-8 run over 7:11 vs. UNLV, Nov. 28 (UNLV 3-of-7 with six turnovers during run)
15-0 run over 2:28 at Washington, Jan. 4 (McClellan 3-of-3 from three-point range, UA 6-of-6 FTs)
22-10 run over 8:25 at Oregon, Feb. 10 (UA 9-of-12 FGs during run, Oregon 2-of-10)
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: Following tonight’s game, Arizona closes the regular season with another early-afternoon affair. Arizona takes on Stanford on Saturday, March 3. That game will tip at 12:30 p.m. PST and be televised by ABC-TV.