Game Notes: Nov. 25, 2008

Nov. 24, 2008

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Date: Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

Time: 5:45 p.m. EST

Location: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523), Athens, Ga.

Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

TV: None

GAME DATA: Arizona (2-1, 0-0 Pac-10) concludes play in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tuesday against Santa Clara (1-3, 0-0 WCC) in Athens, Ga. ... The University of Georgia hosts this consolation bracket finale ... A Wildcat win tonight would equal the most wins (18) in Preseason NIT history, while setting a new record for games played (21) ... UA has shot better than 50 percent from the field in two of three games this season and is shooting a cumulative .509 (84-of-165) from the floor as a team.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Nov. 17 edition of both polls. UA was out of the polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign, however, the Wildcats are receiving votes in both polls.

ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach with a career record of 2-1 (.667) ... He assumed the interim coaching responsibilities on Oct. 24 in the wake of Lute Olson's retirement a day earlier ... Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area ... He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season ... Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 ... While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 (.498) record that included one NCAA Tournament berth (2003) and three trips to the N.I.T. ... Prior to his tenure in Tempe, Ariz., Pennell served on Evans' staff at the University of Mississippi for six seasons (1992-98), where the Rebels went 86-81 (.515) and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998 ... In those two seasons, Mississippi won the Southeastern Conference West Division championship and won at least 20 games ... It was the first time the program had posted consecutive 20-win seasons in 60 years ... Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton ... During the 1990-91 campaign, the Cowboys shared the Big Eight Conference championship with a 24-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament ... The following year, OSU posted a 28-8 record, and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in both of Pennell's seasons in Stillwater ... Pennell, 47, earned a degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and received his master's in P.E. from PSU in 1990 ... He is assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.

LAST TIME OUT: Chase Budinger scored a game-high 24 points and Jordan Hill added 19 points and 10 rebounds as Arizona cruised to an 86-52 win Monday over Mississippi Valley State. The Cats jumped out to an early 12-0 lead as MVSU missed its first 13 shots and broke it open for good with an 18-2 run later in the half. UA shot 62.5 percent from the field and limited the Devils to just 34.5 percent from the field, including 2-of-19 from three-point range. All 12 Wildcats saw action and 10 players scored points as the club posted its highest point total and biggest winning margin of the season.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos enter tonight's contest with a 1-3 record following Monday's 54-48 loss at Georgia. Senior John Bryant led SCU with 12 points and 13 rebounds. On the season Santa Clara shoots 45.6 percent (93-of-204) from the field, outrebounds the opposition by an average of 7.0 rebounds per game and outscores foes by 3.7 points. All three of the Broncos defeats have been by six points or less. Bryant leads Santa Clara with per game averages of 18.3 points and 11.5 boards.

THE SERIES: This is the ninth meeting of the two schools with the series tied at four wins apiece. Arizona won the last meeting, 89-63, on Dec. 18, 1993, in San Jose, Calif. All-time, Arizona is 2-1 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Santa Clara, Calif., and 2-3 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 94 in the UA media guide.

AGAINST THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE: All-time, Arizona is 25-14 (.641) against schools that currently reside in the West Coast Conference. The last time the Wildcats faced a WCC club was Dec. 10, 2005, in a 73-61 UA win over Saint Mary's in Tucson.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored a season-best 86 points Monday vs. Mississippi Valley State and broke the 80-point barrier for the first time. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 171-19 (.900) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Obviously, Arizona is 1-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

KNOCKING THEM DOWN: Led by Jordan Hill's career-best 9-of-10 marksmanship from the free throw line, Arizona connected on 20-of-25 (.800) charity attempts. What makes that somewhat notable is that entering Monday's game Arizona had made just 65.9 percent (29-of-44) of its free throws. Furthermore, Hill was just 5-of-12 (.417) from the stripe before knocking down that 9-of-10. The team effort boosted UA's cumulative free throw percentage to a respectable .710 mark (49-of-69).

DOUBLING UP: Jordan Hill continues his yeoman-like efforts this season with 19 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Delta Devils yesterday. The 6-foot-10 junior forward hit 5-of-6 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws on the way to those 19 points. All told, it was the fourth consecutive double-double for Hill dating back to last season. He leads the Wildcats in rebounding (14.0 rpg) and ranks second in scoring (14.7 ppg) to go with nine total blocks.

PRESEASON N.I.T. HISTORY: As mentioned earlier, Arizona has a 17-3 record when playing in the Preseason N.I.T. In tournament annals, Arizona's five previous appearances and three championships are tied for the all-time lead, while the .850 winning percentage ranks ninth, the 17 wins ranks fourth, and the 20 games played ranks fourth. UA's 15-game win streak in the event, which ended in the 2004 championship game loss to Wake Forest, is a tournament record. Here is a look at UA's participation:

Nov. 21, 1986:  UNLV 92, Arizona 87 (Las Vegas, Nev.)Nov. 14, 1990:  Arizona 122, Austin Peay 80 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 16, 1990:  Arizona 88, East Tennessee State 79 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 21, 1990:  Arizona 91, Notre Dame 61 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 23, 1990:  Arizona 89, Arkansas 77 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 15, 1995:  Arizona 91, Long Beach State 57 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 17, 1995:  Arizona 83, Arkansas 73 (Fayetteville, Ark.)Nov. 22, 1995:  Arizona 86, Michigan 79 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 24, 1995:  Arizona 91, Georgetown 81 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 16, 1999:  Arizona 88, Kansas State 69 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 19, 1999:  Arizona 84, New Mexico State 60 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 24, 1999:  Arizona 76, Notre Dame 60 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 26, 1999:  Arizona 63, Kentucky 51 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 16, 2004:  Arizona 80, San Diego 69 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 18, 2004:  Arizona 83, Wright State 66 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 24, 2004:  Arizona 61, Michigan 60, overtime (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 26, 2004:  Wake Forest 63, Arizona 60 (New York, N.Y.)Nov. 17, 2008:  Arizona 75, Florida Atlantic 62 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 18, 2008:  UAB 72, Arizona 71 (Tucson, Ariz.)Nov. 24, 2008:  Arizona 86, Mississippi State 52 (Athens, Ga.)

EASY WINS: As mentioned above, UA's 34-point win Monday was it's biggest winning margin in the young season. A quick look in the UA record book reveals that it is the biggest winning margin for the program since a 36-point win over Sam Houston State on Dec. 19, 2005. That's a span of 93 games played.

FAST STARTER: Junior forward Chase Budinger posted a game-high 24 points in Monday's win, which kept his season average at 24.0 points per game. The 72 points tallied by the Encinitas, Calif., native is the most he's scored through three games in any of his first three collegiate seasons - and that figure has improved each year. Budinger notched 51 points as a freshman and 68 as a sophomore entering this year.

DOING IT EFFICIENTLY: Through three games, Chase Budinger has moved his way to the top of UA's scoring charts in a very efficient manner, amassing 72 points on 40 total field goal attempts. This season, Budinger is shooting .650 (26-of-40) from the field, .588 (10-of-17) from three-point range, and .833 (10-of-12) from the free throw line. He was an impressive 10-of-11 (.909) from the floor, including 4-of-4 from behind the arc, Monday vs. Mississippi Valley State.

TOP-10: Chase Budinger jumped into 10th place on Arizona's career three-point FG percentage list with his 4-of-4 effort from behind the arc Monday. For his career, the 6-foot-7 Budinger is shooting 38.6 percent (133-of-345) from three-point range. He is 11 treys shy of joining the UA top-10 in career treys made.

IN CLOSE: Led by the exploits of Jordan Hill, Arizona held a 34-16 points in the paint advantage during Monday's game. That total is emblematic of UA's efforts in each game this season, as the Cats have a 2-to-1 advantage around the basket through three games. To date, Arizona has outscored its opponents 92-46 in the paint this year.

STEPPING IN, STEPPING UP: Based upon match-ups, freshman Garland Judkins earned the first start of his career Monday night and responded with 12 points, two rebounds and two assists against Mississippi Valley State. The 6-foot-3 guard hit 6-of-9 shots from the field as he posted the first double-figure scoring effort of his career. Through three games, Judkins is averaging nearly 26 minutes per game.

FUELING A RUN: There is nothing quite like stringing together a few shots to spark a scoring run, and that's just what Arizona did Monday night. At one point of the first half, the Wildcats made 11 consecutive field goals over 6:38 in what became a 26-4 UA run. In that same span, MVSU was just 1-of-8 from the floor.

DEBUTS: As all 12 Wildcats saw action last night, that means that two players - David Bagga and D.J. Shumpert - made their 2008-09 season debut. For Shumpert, a freshman from Tucson, Ariz., he tallied three boards and an assist in his collegiate debut, while Bagga, a senior from Foothill Ranch, Calif., missed a field goal attempt in his first action this year. It was Bagga's first field goal attempt since Dec. 28, 2006, with six total appearances in between.

IN THE LEAGUE: With the 2008-09 National Basketball Association regular season underway, no fewer than nine former Arizona Wildcats were on the opening day NBA rosters. That figure ranks sixth nationally. Here is the complete list: Hassan Adams, Toronto Raptors; Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards; Jerryd Bayless, Portland TrailBlazers; Mike Bibby, Atlanta Hawks; Channing Frye, Portland TrailBlazers; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers; Richard Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks; Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks; and Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. There have been at least eight former Wildcats in the NBA in each of the last nine seasons with 10 or more in six of those campaigns. Furthermore, four former Cats are on NBA D-League rosters.

MORE UA CONNECTIONS TO THE NBA: Arizona's nine former players in the Association helped the Pac-10 Conference tally 46 active NBA players, a figure that ranked third nationally. The Pac-10 was one of only three conferences (Big East and Big 12) to have each member school produce at least one NBA player. Additionally, the Pac-10's average of 4.6 alums per institution was second only to the Atlantic Coast Conference (4.8). Here is a look at the breakdown by conference: 1. Atlantic Coast, 58; 2. Big East, 49; 3. Pac-10, 46; 4. Big 12, 41; 5. Southeastern, 38; 6. Big Ten, 37.

PAC-10 PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in this season's Pac-10 race. The Wildcats received 241 points (see chart at left), trailing UCLA, Arizona State and USC. It's the second consecutive year in which UA was selected fourth.

UP NEXT: After a quick break for the Thanksgiving holiday, Arizona return to action on Sunday, Nov. 30, when the Cats host Northern Arizona. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST and will be televised by FS Arizona.

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