Men's Basketball Game Notes

Dec. 27, 2003

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Date: Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003
Time: 4 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: KWBA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

Game Data: Fifth-ranked Arizona (6-1, 0-0 Pac-10) opens play in the 19th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic presented by Bank One Sunday against Liberty (3-7, 0-0 Big South) ... Liberty makes its first Classic appearance, while Louisiana-Lafayette (2000) and Valparaiso (2001) are making return engagements ... The Wildcats are 35-1 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play with the lone defat coming in the 2000 championship game, a 75-74 loss to Mississippi State ... All-time, Arizona is 1-0 against Big South opponents.

The Rankings: Arizona rose to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and remained at No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll after last week's action. The Cats opened the season ranked No. 4 in both major college basketball polls. UA has been ranked in 275 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 697-240 (.744) and 505-148 (.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 298-30 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 226 of its last 241 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner... Olson is 0-0 against Liberty and 33-0 in Fiesta Bowl Classic play.

Last Time Out: Arizona used a 15-0 run over 3:31 of the second half to break open what was a tight game and earn its fifth straight win with an 83-71 decision Monday over San Diego State. Four different players combined to hit 7-of-10 shots from the field during the decisive run, which pushed the lead to 22 points. UA shot 51.7 percent from the floor in the second half and outrebounded SDSU, 46-39. Hassan Adams (19 pts./11 reb.) and Andre Iguodala (10 pts./12 reb.) each finished with double-doubles.

Scouting Liberty: The Flames enter the Fiesta Bowl Classic with a 3-7 record following an 87-66 loss at Old Dominion on Dec. 18. As a team, Liberty shoots 39.8 percent from the floor (237-of-596), posts a +0.9 rebounds per game advantage and average 54.0 points per game. The opposition shoots 43.9 percent and averages 71.2 points per game. Individually, both Gabe Martin (14.0 ppg) and Larry Blair (11.0 ppg) average in double figures, while Martin also leads the club with a 6.2 rebounds per game average.

The Series: Sunday's game marks the first meeting of the two schools. Regarding other Fiesta Bowl Classic opponents, UA is 1-0 all-time vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and 2-0 vs. Valparaiso. See page 125 in the UA media guide for more series information.

Television Note: Sunday's game vs. Liberty will be televised live in Tucson and Southern Arizona on KWBA-TV (channel 58). It shown in Phoenix and the rest of the state on a tape-delayed basis on Fox Sports Net Arizona on Monday, Dec. 29 at noon.

Fiesta Bowl Classic Schedule: The 19th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic presented by Bank One is scheduled for Dec. 28 & 30 in Tucson. 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.

Higher Ground: Sophomore Hassan Adams has elevated his game in more ways than just a 40-plus inch vertical leap. The 6-foot-4 guard from Los Angeles has seen improvement in nearly every statistical category through seven games this season. He currently leads the Wildcats in scoring (18.1 ppg), while posting 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game. Perhaps most impressively, Adams is shooting a robust 52.0 percent from the floor (51-of-98), including 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from three-point range. Over his last five games, his numbers improve to 21.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg and better than 50 percent from the field (.594) and behind the arc (.524).

Off on the Right Foot: In Monday's win over San Diego State, Arizona held the Aztecs to 37.8 percent (14-of-37) shooting and just 31 points. The 31 points equaled a UA opponent low for the first half in 2003-04. Arizona's 41-31 lead at the break in that contest was its second-largest of the season (41-31 vs. Northern Arizona on Nov. 24).

The Numbers Don't Lie: Bolstered by 51.7 percent shooting (15-of-29) in the second half Monday, Arizona was able to outshoot San Diego State, .455-.408, for the game. In 2003-04, the Cats are a spotless 5-0 when outshooting the opposition. Over the last two seasons, Arizona is 32-1 when outshooting the opposition.

Board Work: Led by Hassan Adams' career-high 11 rebounds Monday, the Cats outrebounded San Diego State, 46-39, to improve to 4-1 when outrebounding the opposition. UA held a 15-14 edge on the offensive boards and a 31-25 advantage on the defensive glass to mark the first time since the Saint Louis game on Dec. 6 that the club had rebound advantages at both ends of the court.

Just Missed: Arizona came up one rebound shy of posting double-doubles for its entire starting frontline Monday vs. San Diego State. Hassan Adams finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala collected 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore center Channing Frye tallied 15 points and nine rebounds against SDSU, which would have been the first time the UA frontline accomplished the feat since Feb. 22, 2003, when Luke Walton (10 pts./11 reb.), Rick Anderson (19/12) and Frye (23/10) turned the trick in a 92-72 win at Arizona State.

Assisting the Cause: Arizona's starting five collected 19 of the team's 22 assists on Monday. Mustafa Shakur passed out six assists for the fourth game in a row, while Hassan Adams collected a new career high with four. All told, Arizona's 22 assists were the second highest total of the season (24 vs. Northern Arizona.

Continuing to Produce: Sophomore guard Chris Rodgers logged a career-high 35 minutes in Monday's win and equaled a career high with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-6 from three-point range. Over his last five games, The 6-foot-4 native of Portland, Ore., is 10-of-16 (.625) from three-point range and has scored 30 of his 43 points in that span from behind the arc. On the year, he is averaging 10.6 points while connecting on 15-of-26 of his three-point attempts (.577).

Game of the Year: It seems as though every news gathering organization has compiled its 'Best of 2003' lists, and Arizona's 96-95 double overtime win over Gonzaga on March 22 seems to be earning more than a casual mention. Sports Illustrated called the contest its College Basketball Game of the Year, while ESPN ranked the game No. 7 on SportsCenter's Top 10 Games-of-the-Year list, which covered all sports. It was the only men's college basketball game to make the list.

Getting Better: During Arizona's current five-game win streak, the club has improved itself in several statistical categories. When compared to its season averages, the Cats are shooting better from the floor (138-of-297/.465), especially three-point range (39-of-92/.424), while averaging better than 82 points per game.

Shooting Straight: While Arizona shot a respectable 45.5 percent (30-of-66) Monday vs. San Diego State, only two UA players managed to shoot better than 50 percent individually. Hassan Adams (8-of-13) and Chris Rodgers (5-of-9) combined to shoot 59.1 percent from the floor. The rest of the team combined to shoot 17-of-44 (.386) from the floor.

In December: The Cats are 116-36 (.763) under Lute Olson in the month of December, including a 76-19 (.800) mark since the 1990-91 campaign.

Valuing the Ball: Through seven games, Arizona has a 1.23 assist:turnover ratio as a team. Led by Andre Iguodala's 2.79 ratio, a figure that leads the Pac-10, five Wildcats currently enjoy a positive assist:turnover ratio.

Tis the Season to Accept Charity: One of the keys to victory on Monday was a +13 scoring advantage from the charity stripe, its largest of the season. Arizona connected on 16-of-20 free throws, including 9-of-11 in the second half, to outscore San Diego State, 16-3. It marked the fifth straight game in which Arizona has outscored the opposition from the line. On the season, Arizona has made more free throws (122) than the opposition has attempted (107).

A Second Half Club: Monday night's game followed a similar trend in that the Wildcats outscored the opposition for the sixth time this season. Arizona enjoys a +7.5 scoring advantage after the halftime break. Through seven games, Arizona outscores the opposition 269-251 in the first half (+2.5 ppg) and 326-274 in the second. The only time Arizona has been outscored in the second half came vs. Florida on Nov. 28.

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 (3.4 bpg) and 6-foot-4 Hassan Adams (2.7 bpg), the Cats are averaging 7.6 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). Over the last five games, Arizona has a 32-4 advantage in blocked shots.

What's Been Missing: Over the last five games, Arizona has collected just 17 steals (3.4 spg). UA is averaging just 5.0 pilfers per game, the lowest figure on record.

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.

More Roster Moves: The Wildcats added its second player to the roster in the last two weeks as 6-foot-10, 218-pound forward Ivan Radenovic (pronunced E-vahn Rah-den-o-vich) joined the team on Saturday. The freshman from Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, will be eligible to play on Dec. 28.

Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 88-8 (.917) since the start of the 1988-89 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats are 5-0 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 first round action at the Fiesta Bowl Classic presented by Bank One, 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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