Game Notes: Jan. 9, 2009

Jan. 9, 2009

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Date: Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009

Time: 2 p.m. MST

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.

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

TV: FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

GAME DATA: Arizona (10-5, 1-2 Pac-10) hosts Oregon State (6-7, 1-2 Pac-10) Saturday in McKale Center as both teams look to move to .500 in conference play ... Arizona was last at .500 in Pac-10 play on Feb. 23, 2008 (7-7), while Oregon State last reached .500 on Jan. 12, 2006 (2-2) ... Opponents are shooting just .391 (182-of-466) from the field, including .302 (58-of-192) from three-point range, and averaging 61.0 points in eight games this season at McKale Center ... All 12 Wildcats played in Thursday's win, marking the third time this season that the entire roster was used in a single game.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Jan. 5 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.

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 10-5 (.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 and Jamelle Horne combined for 35 points as Arizona pulled away from Oregon, 67-52, on Thursday. The Wildcats limited the Ducks to 37 percent shooting and did not allow a player in double figures in holding Oregon to a season-low 52 points. In a game that Arizona never trailed, the Cats used a 9-0 burst midway through the opening half to build a lead for good - one it eventually stretched to 21 points.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers enter today's contest with a 6-7 record (1-2 Pac-10) following Thursday's 69-38 loss at Arizona State. On the season, OSU shoots 47.9 percent (285-of-595) from the field, including 34.3 percent (80-of-233) from three-point range, outrebounds the opposition by a +0.3 rebounds per game margin, and is outscored by 1.5 points per game. Two OSU players average in double figures, led by Calvin Haynes' 15.7 ppg clip. Omari Johnson and Daniel Deans share the team rebounding lead with a 5.7 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Today's game is the 67th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 49-17 series advantage. UA has won 16 of the last 18 meetings in the series, which dates back to Jan. 28, 1975, including the last meeting, 87-56, on March 12, 2008, in Los Angeles. All-time, Arizona is 27-5 in series games played in Tucson, 19-12 in Corvallis, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. See page 94 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 87, Oregon State 56, March 12, 2008: With all five starters in double figures, Arizona blitzed Oregon State in the opening round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. The Wildcats connected on 71 percent (22-of-31) of its field goal attempts in rolling to a tournament-record 59 points in the first half and a 38-point lead at the break. Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise combined for 26 first-half points, while Wise added seven assists and a tournament-record five steals in the opening period alone. UA's 31-point win equaled its largest in Pac-10 Tournament history.

A POSSIBLE 2-2 START: Should the Wildcats win today, it would give the club a 2-2 record in Pac-10 play. Since joining the league in 1978-79, there have only been three seasons in which the program has failed to start conference play with at least a 2-2 record through four games: 1981-82 (0-4/finished 4-14), 1982-83 (0-4/1-17) and 1983-84 (0-4/8-10). In that same span, UA has opened league play with a 2-2 record 13 times and in those 13 seasons the average Pac-10 record is 11-7. Twice (1990, 1994) Arizona has opened conference play 2-2 and won the Pac-10 title.

POSITIVE SIGNS: Winning starts with defense and Arizona did a nice job defensively Thursday against Oregon. UA limited the Ducks to just 37.0 percent (20-of-54) shooting, including 18.2 percent (4-of-22) from behind the arc. In fact, Oregon's 52 points was a season low both for the Ducks and for a UA opponent in 2008-09. As mentioned earlier, opponents are shooting just .391 (182-of-466) from the field, including .302 (58-of-192) from three-point range, and averaging 61.0 points in eight games this season at McKale Center.

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: A game after committing 20 turnovers and giving up 20 turnover points to Stanford, it was nice to see Arizona on the positive side of the turnover points against Oregon. Even though the Cats turned it over three more times than the Ducks, UA managed to hold a 17-10 edge in turnover points. However, in three Pac-10 games, Arizona holds a -5.0 turnover margin.

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Led by Jamelle Horne, who was 5-of-5 from the field Thursday, Arizona shot 52.3 percent (23-of-44) from the field. It was the first time in eight games that the Wildcats have topped the 50-percent plateau. Additionally, Arizona improved to 5-1 this season in games when shooting 50 percent or better. The effort boosted UA season field goal percentage to .485 (391-of-807).

CLEANING THE GLASS: In what seems almost methodical, Jordan Hill snatched a game-high 12 rebounds vs. Oregon, which was the sixth time this season that the 6-foot-10 native of Atlanta, Ga., has collected 12 or more caroms in a contest. Furthermore, it was his 11th double-figure rebounding game of the year and the 25th of his career. Through 14 appearances, Hill leads the Pac-10 with his 12.1 rebounds per game average. He's averaging 13.0 rebounds per game in conference play.

HELPS THE CAUSE: Spearheaded by Jordan Hill's efforts (see note above), Arizona posted a 35-25 rebound advantage in Thursday's win. The win upped Arizona's record to 7-3 when outrebounding the opposition and marked the seventh time that the Cats have outrebounded an opponent by 10 or more in a game. Interestingly, Arizona is just 4-3 in those contests. Additionally, Arizona's +5.8 rebound margin (+3.0 in Pac-10 play) this season ranks fourth among conference members.

THE BIG THREE: Arizona's 'Big Three' of Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise combined for 36 points in Thursday, marking the lowest combined offensive output for the trio this season. Regardless, the total was still 54 percent of the Cats' total in the 15-point win.

BACK AT IT: After being mired in a slump over the previous five games, Chase Budinger snapped out of it with a 20-point performance against the Ducks. The 6-foot-7 forward from Encinitas, Calif., netted 8-of-15 field goal attempts, grabbed four rebounds and collected three assists and two steals in 36 minutes. Perhaps most notably, Budinger didn't commit a turnover in those 36 minutes of action. For Budinger, it was his seventh 20-point game of the season and the 26th of his career.

PRODUCTIVE TRIPS: Sophomore guard Zane Johnson hit a career-best 4-of-4 free throws Thursday to lead Arizona at the line with 16 free throws made (in 25 attempts). To date, Arizona is 8-2 when making 15 or more free throws in a game this season, and the squad outscores the opposition by an average of 7.2 points per game from the line in its 10 wins. The number of free throws made is equal in UA's five losses.

RED AUERBACH WOULD BE PROUD: David Bagga missed a three-point field goal attempt in two minutes of action Thursday, but he just might be the closest thing Arizona has to Auerbach's victory cigar, as the Cats are 21-1 during Bagga's career when the 6-foot-4 senior guard from Foothill Ranch, Calif., sees action.

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: Jordan Hill leads the Pac-10 with 10 double-doubles this season. Hill narrowly missed No. 11, as he tallied nine points and 12 rebounds against the Ducks. It marked the first time this season that Hill has failed to score 10 or more points, and he's grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 11 of 14 appearances.

JUST LIKE OLD TIMES: Arizona posted a .523 field goal percentage in Thursday's win and in the process held Oregon to only 37.0 percent shooting. It was the 11th time this season that the Wildcats have outshot the opposition and Arizona is 9-2 when that happens. Additionally, Arizona has now held five opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in 2008-09.

HONOR AMONG THIEVES: Over the last five games, Arizona is averaging more than six steals per game (6.2 spg). It may not sound like much, but that figure is more than a half steal per game more than its season average of 5.6 steals per game. In that span, Chase Budinger (1.4 spg), Jordan Hill (1.2) and Kyle Fogg (1.0) are each averaging better than a steal per game and four other players have collected multiple thefts as well.

ON A ROLL: Sophomore Jamelle Horne continues to show an expanding game, as the 6-foot-6 forward from San Diego, Calif., recorded 15 points, four rebounds and equaled a career high with two blocked shots against Oregon. In his last five games, Horne is averaging 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists, while shooting 56.1 percent (23-of-41) percent from the field. He also has four treys (in eight attempts) in that span, which is twice as many as he made in all of last season. The burst in productivity has raised Horne's season averages to 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds to go with a .510 (53-of-104) field goal percentage.

CHOOSING HIS SPOTS: Nic Wise posted seven points, four rebounds and five assists Thursday in the win over Oregon, and the point guard continues to be good at picking his spots to contribute. He was 3-of-5 from the floor vs. the Ducks and is shooting a team-best .566 (30-of-53) from the field over the last five games. In that span, he has scored 79 points (best on the team) and is averaging 15.8 points per game.

IN RESERVE: On the strength of 4-of-4 shooting from the line, Zane Johnson scored nine points in Thursday's game, the second-highest total of his collegiate career. The sophomore guard from Phoenix, Ariz., also grabbed three rebounds, passed out a pair of assists and set a new career high with two steals. This season, Johnson has logged 201 minutes played. That's nearly three times as many as he garnered in all of last season (74).

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 84 points Dec. 23 against Kansas, breaking the 80-point barrier for the third time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 173-19 (.901) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 3-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

UP NEXT: Following today's contest, head to Southern California for a pair of conference road games. The first of which is Thursday, Jan. 15, at No. 10 UCLA. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.



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