Jan. 31, 2001
EUGENE, Ore. - Arizona looks to keep pace in the Pacific-10 when the Wildcats begin atwo-game road trip at Oregon on Thursday.
Arizona is a game and half behind No. 1 Stanford in the Pac-10 standings,and hopes to at least keep pace until the teams meet again on March 8. Stanfordwon the first meeting 85-76 at Arizona on Jan. 6.
'Any time you go on the road in this league it becomes a very criticaltime,' Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. 'Particularly since we can't letStanford get any more distance between us.
'It will be important for us to come out early and try to get the crowd outof it. They (Oregon) are a very aggressive team who take the ball hard to thebasket.'
The seventh-ranked Wildcats (14-5, 6-1) have won six straight games and arecoming off a 4-0 homestand that featured wins over then No. 24 USC and No. 20Texas. Arizona is winning by an average margin of 23.5 points during the streakand its No. 7 ranking is the school's highest since it came in at the same spoton Dec. 11.
Arizona beat Texas 80-52 Saturday, marking the seventh time this season theWildcats have held an opponent under 60 points.
'With our team right now, defensively we continue to make progress,' Olsonsaid. 'We have become disruptive to the offensive sets our opponents run.'
Sophomore Gilbert Arenas keyed wins over Texas and Arizona State last weekand is averaging 19.4 points over his last five games and shooting 52 percent(32-of-62) from the field.
'With respect to why Gilbert is shooting so well all of a sudden, he isgetting much better looks at the basket and his confidence is rising the moreshots he makes,' Olson said.
Oregon (11-6, 2-5) will be looking for consecutive wins over Arizona for thefirst time in 17 years.
Arizona leads the all-time series 30-15, but the teams split last season'smeetings. Oregon won the last game, 86-81 at McArthur Court on March 4.
The Ducks have lost two straight, most recently falling 98-88 at UCLASaturday.
Oregon is led by the exploits of senior Bryan Bracey, who leads the Pac-10in scoring at 19.4 points. He is trying to become the first Oregon player tolead the conference in scoring since Terrell Brandon did so in the 1990-91season with a 26.6 average.
Bracey is the only player in the Pac-10 to appear in the conference top 10in scoring, rebounding (6.9, 10th), field goal percentage (53.3, 10th), freethrow shooting (80.8, 6th) and 3-point shooting (46.3, 2nd).
The Ducks begin a four-game homestand that will bring Arizona State,Stanford and California to McArthur Court.