Men's Basketball Release

Dec. 19, 2003

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Date: Monday, Dec. 22, 2003Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

Game Data: Seventh-ranked Arizona (5-1, 0-0 Pac-10) begins that wonderful time of the year when classes are over and the second semester is weeks away by hosting San Diego State (6-3, 0-0 MWC) Monday in McKale Center ... UA and SDSU meet for the second consecutive season after a 16-year hiatus ... All-time, UA is 176-131 (.573) against schools that make up the Mountain West Conference ... The Cats are 115-36 (.762) under Lute Olson in December, including a 75-19 (.798) mark since the 1990-91 campaign.

The Rankings: Arizona rose to No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and to No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll after last week's action. With its No. 4 ranking to start the season, it marked the fourth time in the last five seasons that Arizona opened a year ranked in the nation's top 10. UA has been ranked in 274 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . is in his 21st season at Arizona and his 31st overall as a college head coach with a career record of 696-240 (.744) and 504-148 (.773) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 500th victory at Arizona on Nov. 24, 2003, and has the second-most Pac-10 wins (279) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.784/279-77) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 21-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 10 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 19 years, 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 best winning percentage over the past 16 years (429-101/.809) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 46 NBA Draft picks, including 27 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 16 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 25 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 25 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 297-30 (.908) in McKale Center and have won 225 of its last 240 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner... Olson is 5-1 against San Diego State.

Last Time Out: For the second time in as many games, Arizona needed a second-half rally to overcome a deficit and earn a victory. This time it was a 15-2 run over the final 3:06 that gave the Wildcats an 84-78 win Wednesday over a Saint Mary's club that controlled tempo and owned the glass for the first 37 minutes. In the final 3:06, Arizona hit 3-of-5 field goals, 9-of-10 free throws and outrebounded SMC, 7-0. Channing Fyre scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the second half.

Scouting San Diego State: The Aztecs enter Monday's game with a 6-3 record (pending Saturday's game vs. Eastern Washington) following a 90-71 win Thursday vs. Cal Poly. SDSU shoots 43.4 percent (244-of-562) from the floor, posts a +5.5 rebound margin and averages 76.3 points per game. The opposition manages a .421 field goal percentage and 67.1 points per game. Individually, three Aztecs average in double figures, led by Brandon Heath's 19.1 ppg figure. Aerick Sanders, who averages 11.3 rebounds per game, entered the week as the nation's second leading rebounder.

The Series: Monday's game marks the 22nd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 16-5 advantage. The Wildcats have won three straight in the series, including an 89-81 win in San Diego on Dec. 7 of last season. All-time, Arizona is 11-1 in series games played in Tucson, 5-4 in San Diego, and 0-0 in neutral-site meetings. See page 126 in the UA media guide for more series information.

Last Meeting: Arizona 89, San Diego State 81, Dec. 7, 2002. Will Bynum and Rick Anderson combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds to lead Arizona to the eight-point win in the team's first road game of the season. Playing before the first sellout crowd in Cox Arena history, Bynum scored 14 of his career-high 19 points in the first half to stake the Cats to a nine-point halftime lead. Anderson followed by scoring 13 of his season-high 17 points in the second half, as Arizona built as much as a 19-point lead. Only an SDSU bucket at the buzzer cut the UA lead to less than double figures in the final 20 minutes.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Maybe it's the collective anticipation of good ol' Saint Nick's impending visit that has the Wildcats distracted, but whatever the reason the results aren't good in Arizona's final game before Christmas. In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is just 6-14 (.300) such contests. The squad is 2-3 in the last five seasons, which is markedly better than the seven straight defeats suffered from 1991-1997. As mentioned in the notes earlier, Arizona is 115-36 (.762) in December under Olson. That mark improves to 109-22 (.832) if the last games before Christmas are forgotten.

Stepping Up: Junior Channing Frye answered the call when his teammates needed it most by scoring 18 of his career-high 26 points in the second half of Wednesday's win over Saint Mary's. The 6-foot-11 Phoenix, Ariz., native hit 7-of-11 field goal attempts to go with three rebounds and two blocks in the decisive half. It was the ninth 20-point game of Frye's 72-game career.

Pleasant Surprise: Perhaps Arizona's most pleasant surprise this season has been the marked improvement of sophomore Hassan Adams. Less than one-third of the way through the season and the 6-foot-4 Los Angeles product has nearly doubled his production from a year ago. To date, Adams is averaging 18.0 points and 6.8 rebounds, while shooting 50.6 percent (43-of-85) from the floor. Both his point (108) and rebound (41) totals are roughly 37 percent of his totals (291/110) from last season. He has already doubled his blocked shot output from a year ago with 16 blocks through six games.

Coming out on Top: It's not the way you would script it, but Arizona benefited from a 15-2 run over the final 3:06 to come from behind and defeat Saint Mary's. In that span, Arizona hit 3-of-5 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws while limiting the Gaels to 1-of-5 shooting and three turnovers. All told, Arizona held SMC scoreless for the final 2:02. It was a balanced effort for the Cats during the run as Salim Stoudamire scored six points, while Channing Frye (4), Hassan Adams (3) and Andre Iguodala (2) combined for nine points.

Making it Close: Arizona was outrebounded 42-39 by Saint Mary's on Wednesday, marking the second time the Cats have been on the short end of the boards this season. It took a strong late push by Arizona to make it that close. UA outrebounded Saint Mary's, 7-0, in the last three minutes, including four offensive rebounds.

Becoming a Windex Man: Salim Stoudamire continues to display a new-found prowess on the boards, as he collected a career-high seven caroms Wednesday vs. Saint Mary's. It marks the third time in six games this season that Stoudamire has matched or set a new career rebounding best. His current average of 4.2 rebounds per game is leaps and bounds better than his career 1.9 rpg mark entering the year.

On the Good Side: Bolstered by a season-low seven turnovers, Arizona posted a season-best 2.71 assist:turnover ratio (19:7). Of the seven players to see action, none had a negative ratio, while Andre Iguodala passed out five assists against no turnovers in 37 minutes played.

Tis the Season to Accept Charity: One of the keys to victory on Wednesday was a +12 scoring advantage from the charity stripe, its largest of the season. Arizona connected on 25-of-33 free throws, including 15-of-18 in the second half, to outscore Saint Mary's, 25-13. It marked the fourth straight game in which Arizona has outscored the opposition from the line. On the season, Arizona has made more free throws (106) than the opposition has attempted (101).

Positive Contributions: For the third consecutive game, freshman Mustafa Shakur equaled a season high with six assists. For the season, the 6-foot-3 point guard from Philadelphia is averaging 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor. He is one of four Wildcats with a positive assist:turnover ratio (27:23).

A Second Half Club: Wednesday night's game followed a similar trend in that the Wildcats outscored the opposition for the fifth time this season. Arizona enjoys a +8.3 scoring advantage after the halftime break. Through six games, Arizona outscores the opposition 228-200 in the first half (+1.3 ppg) and 284-234 in the second. The only time Arizona has been outscored in the second half came vs. Florida on Nov. 28.

Always On the Run: As was the case on Wednesday, a sizeable scoring run contributed to victory. Here is a list of the UA scoring runs in each of its last four games:
17 points - 21-4 run over 7:34 at Saint Louis, Dec. 6
13 points - 15-2 run over 3:06 vs. Saint Mary's, Dec. 17
12 points - 12-0 run over 3:24 vs. Marquette, Dec. 13
10 points - 16-6 run over 4:30 vs. Texas, Dec. 9

Blocked Shots: One of the Wildcat strengths through six games has been its ability to block shots. Led by the unlikely shot-blocking duo of 6-foot-11 Channing Frye (3.3 bpg) and 6-foot-4 Hassan Adams (2.7 bpg), the Cats are averaging 7.5 blocked shots per game. That is more than 2.5 blocks better than the school record of 5.8 blocks per game set during the 1989-90 campaign (185 blk/32 games).

A Unique Partnership: When Matt Brase joined the Wildcat roster this season, it forged a unique partnership. Lute Olson is the only coach in NCAA Division I college basketball to be currently coaching his grandson. While rare, it isn't unprecedented in Division I sporting annals. Legendary Fresno State baseball coach Bob Bennett (1967, 1970-2002) had the pleasure of coaching his grandson, Jeff Prieto, from 1997-2001.

What's Been Missing: Over the last three games, Arizona has collected just three steals. UA is averaging just 5.3 pilfers per game, the lowest figure since 1984-85.

Back at It: Freshman center Kirk Walters saw four minutes of action in Wednesday's win and collected a rebound, his first since the Florida game. The 6-foot-10 native of Grand Rapids, Mich., has seen action in all six games and is averaging 0.8 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.

Roster Moves: Junior forward Isaiah Fox had surgery on his left knee Dec. 2 and is expected to be out for three to four months. Shortly thereafter, Ryan O'Hara, a 6-foot-6, 198-pound forward from Pasadena, Calif., was added to the Wildcat roster. The freshman, who will see most of his action with the scout team in practice, is also a quarterback on the UA football team. He completed 33-of-78 passes for 341 yards and two TDs in five appearances in 2003.

Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 87-8 (.916) since the start of the 1988-89 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats are 4-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points.

Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Daniel Dillon (G, 6-4, 190) from Hampton, Victoria, Australia, and North Laurel High School in London, Ky.; Jawann McClellan (G, 6-5, 202) from Houston, Texas, Charles H. Milby High School; and Mohamed Tangara (F, 6-9, 230) from Mali, West Africa, and Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C., will join the squad next fall.

Up Next: Following the Christmas holiday, Arizona returns to the hardwood on Sunday, Dec. 28, to host the 19th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic presented by Bank One. The first round matchups feature Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Valparaiso at 1:45 p.m. MST and Liberty vs. Arizona at 4 p.m. Consolation and championship games will be played on Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. MST, respectively.

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