Game Notes: Feb. 2, 2009

Feb. 2, 2009

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Date: Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009

Time: 5:30 p.m. PST

Location: Gill Coliseum (10,400), Corvallis, Ore.

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

TV: FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

GAME DATA: Arizona (14-8, 4-5 Pac-10) gets back on the road to open the second half of Pac-10 play at Oregon State (10-10, 4-5 Pac-10) Thursday evening at Gill Coliseum ... The Wildcats head to the state of Oregon looking for its first road win of the season (0-6) ... In six road games this season, Arizona is averaging just 61.5 points per game, 11. 7 points less than the opposition ... Additionally, opponents are averaging 8.2 treys and 12.7 free throws per game in those contests, figures well in excess of UA's 3.8 and 8.3 per game figures ... Five of Arizona's nine remaining regular season games are away from home.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the Feb. 2 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 14-8 (.636) ... 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: Trailing 37-30 with 14:36 remaining, Arizona responded with a 26-4 run over the next 10:11 to take control of the game en route to a 66-56 win Saturday over Washington State. Chase Budinger, who posted a double-double and seven assists, scored 10 of his team-high 19 points during the run. UA placed four players in double figures, outrebounded WSU and forced the Cougars into 13 turnovers. Jordan Hill also notched a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers enter tonight's contest riding a four-game win streak and a 10-10 record (4-5 Pac-10) following Saturday's 57-54 win over Oregon. On the season, Oregon State shoots 47.5 percent (447-of-942) from the field, including 35.1 percent (129-of-367) from three-point range, is outrebounded the opposition by a 2.3 per game margin, and is outscored by its opponents by 1.9 points per game. One Beaver player averages in double figures, Calvin Haynes at 16.1 ppg. Seth Tarver and Daniel Deane share the rebounding lead with a 4.9 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Today's game is the 68th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 50-17 series advantage. UA has won 17 of the last 19 meetings in the series, which dates back to Jan. 28, 1975, including the last meeting, 64-47, on Jan. 10 in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 28-5 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 64, Oregon State 47, Jan. 10, 2009: Arizona used a 17-1 advantage from the line and a 22-7 advantage in turnover points to hold off Oregon State. OSU outshot UA, .444-.389, but Arizona used two runs of 9-0 or better to put away the Beavers. Chase Budinger led all scorers with 24 points, while Jordan Hill added 15 points and 11 rebounds to help the Wildcats post a +8 rebound margin.

A GOOD EXAMPLE: Chase Budinger was named Pac-10 Player of the Week Monday after leading Arizona to a pair of conference wins last week by averaging 22.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. In the two games, the junior from Encinitas, Calif., shot .387 (12-of-31) from the field, .333 from three-point range (5-of-15) and .833 from the line (15-of-18), while playing 76 total minutes with 11 assists and zero turnovers. He opened the week by scoring 25 points - his highest total in Pac-10 play - to go with eight rebounds, and four assists vs. No. 23 Washington. Budinger followed that up with his second double-double of the year (eighth career) with 19 points and 11 boards to go with a career-high seven assists and a steal against Washington State. It was the second time in his career that he has earned conference player-of-the-week accolades. On the year, Budinger is averaging 17.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, while shooting .461 from the field.

AT BOTH ENDS: The Wildcats extended its current winning streak to a modest three after picking up a pair of wins this week. UA won at both ends of the offensive spectrum in doing so, scoring a season-high 106 points in defeating 23rd-ranked Washington on Thursday and just 66 in Saturday's win over Washington State. In defeating the Cougars, Arizona became just the third team this season to score 65 or more points against the current national leader in scoring defense.

STRONG TO THE FINISH: In both games this week, Arizona used strong second halves to race to victory. The Cats outscored Washington and Washington State, 112-87, cumulatively this week. UA got a season-high 69 points in the second half in outscoring the Huskies by 10 before outdistancing Washington State, 43-28, on Saturday. Through 22 games, Arizona is outscoring its opponents by an average of 4.0 points per game in the second stanza. Incidentally, UA trailed at the half in both games this week before coming from behind and improved to 6-5 this season when trailing at the break.

DOUBLING UP: Chase Budinger (19 pts./11 reb.) and Jordan Hill (16pts./16 reb.) each notched double-doubles for the Wildcats on Saturday, which was Budinger's second this season (eighth career) and Hill's 14th (26th career). It was the second time this year that two Cats have tallied double-doubles in the same game, and Hill and Jamelle Horne did on Dec.23 vs. Kansas. Additionally, it was the 50th time with 10 or more points for Hill (Budinger has 74) in his career and the 20th time this season for both juniors.

TWO KEYS TO TWO WINS: Arizona swept the Washington schools in part because of two factors: steals and treys. For the weekend, the Wildcats collected 16 steals and 16 three-point field goals. Those per-game averages of 8.0 were far in excess of UA's season averages of 5.5 steals and 5.5 treys. Further, Arizona shot a combined .410 (16-of-39) from three-point range, 35 points higher than its season average, and equaled a season high with nine pilfers on Saturday.

A DECISIVE RUN: En route to its 66-56 win Saturday, Arizona used a 26-4 run over 10:11 to turn a seven-point deficit into a 15-point lead. Along the way, Chase Budinger netted 10 points during the run, as five different Wildcats contributed points. During the run, Arizona was 10-of-16 from the field, while limiting Washington State to just 2-of-11 shooting with five turnovers. During the run, WSU went 6:06 without a point.

HONOR AMONG THIEVES: The Wildcat backcourt certainly proved itself worthy of pressuring the ball Saturday, as the starting guards tallied eight of UA's season-high nine steals. In addition to Nic Wise's three steals, his backcourt mates both set career highs in that statistical category, as Zane Johnson grabbed three and Kyle Fogg added two. All told, nine of Washington State's 13 miscues were directly related to UA's defensive pressure.

CONTROLLING THE GLASS: Led by Jordan Hill (16) and Chase Budinger (11), who combined for 27 rebounds, the Wildcats outrebounded Washington State, 38-32, in Saturday's game. It marked the 14th time this season that Arizona has outrebounded the opposition and the Cats are 10-4 in those games. Currently, Arizona ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with a +4.3 rebound margin.

FOUR SCORERS: It was a balanced offensive attack that aided the UA cause on Saturday, as the team placed four players in double figures, as Chase Budinger (19), Jordan Hill (16), Kyle Fogg (15) and Zane Johnson (10) combined for 60 of Arizona's 66 points. It was the eighth time this season that Arizona has had four players tally 10 or more points. The club is 7-1 when accomplishing the feat.

MINIMIZING THE MISCUES: Turnovers also proved be a key, as Arizona committed eight turnovers in Saturday's win over Washington State, marking the sixth time this season that has turned it over less than 10 times this year. The Cats also won the turnover battle Saturday, 8-13, and improved to 9-0 this season (2-0 Pac-10) when committing fewer turnovers than the opposition.

DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS: In addition to averaging 17.5 points in a pair of games this week, junior guard Nic Wise also efficiently distributed the ball, posting 12 assists against just five turnovers (2.4:1 assist:turnover ratio) in 77 minutes of action. Through 22 games, Wise averages 13.5 points and 4.7 assists per game. Not to be outdone, Chase Budinger tallied 11 assists against zero miscues in 76 minutes last week.

DEVELOPING NICELY: Guard Kyle Fogg continues to develop into one of the Pac-10 most consistent freshmen. The 6-foot-2 native of Brea, Calif., hit 8-of-12 (.667) field goals and 13-of-14 (.929) free throws on the way to 31 points (15.5 ppg) for the week, which nearly tripled his season scoring average. Fogg, who has finished in double figures in three consecutive games, has seen his scoring average rise to 6.2 ppg.

ON TARGET: Sophomore Zane Johnson knocked down 4-of-7 (.571) three-point attempts this week, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc Saturday en route to his second double-figure scoring effort of the season. Such an upturn was a positive for the native of Phoenix, Ariz., who was 8-of-26 (.308) from behind the arc in the six games prior to this week. On the year, Johnson is averaging 4.7 points per game.

TURN IT AROUND: As mentioned earlier, Arizona seeks its first true road win of the season, and a quick look at the statistics indicates three things that could be improved in order to achieve that goal. First, cut down on turnovers. The Cats average 14.5 turnovers per game on the road, or six more than the opposition. Second, get to the line. Arizona averages 12.3 free throw attempts per game away from home, which is 8.2 per game less than its season average. That figure is also five fewer than the opposition when on the road. Third, get off to a good start. Arizona is outscored on average by 3.3 points in the first half of its road games, and has trailed at the break in four of six of those games. Overall, Arizona is 7-3 when leading at halftime.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Junior guard Nic Wise enters play tonight having logged 793 minutes, which equals his playing time from all of last season (27 appearances) and is 45 percent of his career total.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored a season-high 106 points Thursday against Washington, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fifth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 175-19 (.902) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 5-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

UP NEXT: Following tonight's game, Arizona will next be in action on Saturday, Feb. 7, against Oregon. Tip-off at McArthur Court is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PST and can be seen on ABC-TV.



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