Game Notes: Feb. 6, 2009

Feb. 6, 2009

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Date: Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009

Time: 12:30 p.m. PST

Location: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore.

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

TV: ABC (Terry Gannon/Steve Lavin)

GAME DATA: Arizona (15-8, 5-5 Pac-10) looks to move above .500 in Pac-10 for the first time this season at Oregon (6-16, 0-10 Pac-10) Saturday afternoon at McArthur Court ... The Wildcats look for its first road sweep of the conference season less than 48 hours after earning its first true road win of the year ... For the third time in its last four games, Arizona came from behind to earn the win and erased at least a seven-point deficit in each contest ... Wildcat starters connected on 50 percent of their field goal attempts (22-of-44) in Thursday's win ... In its last 12 games at McArthur Court, Arizona is 6-6.

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 15-8 (.652) ... 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 nine of his game-high 17 points in the second half as Arizona pulled away to earn its first true road win of the season, 56-53, Thursday at Oregon State. Trailing 23-15 with 4:05 to go in the first half, Budinger scored the final six points of the period to ignite what became a 30-9 run over 14:28 that saw UA build a 13-point lead. Arizona never lost the lead after that and withstood an OSU rally that saw the game tied with 100 seconds remaining. Nic Wise drained a jumper in the lane and Budinger added a free throw to produce the winning margin.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks enter today's contest riding a 10-game losing streak and a 6-16 record (0-10 Pac-10) following Thursday's 66-57 loss to Arizona State. On the season, Oregon shoots 41.0 percent (506-of-1,233) from the field, including 36.6 percent (164-of-448) from three-point range, is outrebounded the opposition by a 3.8 per game margin, and is outscored by its opponents by 6.9 points per game. One Duck player averages in double figures, Tajuan Porter at 14.5 ppg. Joevan Catron holds the rebounding lead with a 7.0 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Today's game is the 64th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 40-23 advantage in the series, which dates back to Jan. 12, 1979. The Ducks have won three of the last four games in the series, but the Wildcats captured the last, 67-52, in Tucson on Jan. 8. The last Wildcat win in the series in Eugene came on Feb. 10, 2007, in a 77-74 triumph. All-time, Arizona is 24-7 in series games played in Tucson, 16-14 in Eugene, and 0-2 in neutral-site games. See page 93 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 67, Oregon 52, Jan. 8, 2009: Chase Budinger and Jamelle Horne combined for 35 points as Arizona pulled away from Oregon. 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.

FINALLY: It took seven tries to do so, but Arizona finally earned its first true road game of the season Thursday, though the three-point decision wasn't an easy one. The Cats fell behind by as many as eight points, built as much as a 13-point, got a clutch bucket by Nic Wise, and withstood a last-ditch effort by the Beavers that rimmed out at the buzzer. It's the latest into the season that the program has earned its first road win (non-neutral site) of the year since 1983-84, when those Cats won the first on Feb. 17, 1984, in a 65-64 win at Arizona State. That was Lute Olson's first season in Tucson.

A POTENTIAL FOR SWEEPS: As Arizona looks for its first road sweep of the Pac-10 season, history says that choosing to do such things in Oregon won't be easy. As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats are just 6-6 in its last 12 trips to Mac Court. Additionally, UA has an 12-9 record on the Oregon road swing over the last nine-plus seasons with thee sweeps to its credit. As a reference point, UA has swept the Washington road trip five times in that span, the most of any of the two-game road trips.

GRIND IT OUT: The Wildcats extended its current winning streak to a modest four, which equaled its longest of the season. In order to do so, Arizona needed to bite a few nails to do so. Thursday's win was the first for the Cats when scoring less than 60 points - evening its record at 1-1 in those contests - and also evened the team's record at 3-3 in games decided by five points or less.

CLOSING STRONG: Once again, Arizona used strong second half to race to victory. The Cats outscored Oregon State, 35-30, to erase a 23-21 halftime deficit. UA got 18 of its 35 second-half points from Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill. Through 23 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 each of the last four games and has come from behind to win all four. The streak has improved to UA's record to 7-5 this season when trailing at the break.

CLEARING THE GLASS: Junior forward Chase Budinger pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in Thursday's win, marking the fourth time this season he has led the Cats in reboudning. Over the last six games, the 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game and he's collected seven or more rebounds in each of those games. Through 23 games, Budinger is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game.

WORTH NOTING: A Nic Wise trey with 17:54 remaining in the second half Thursday gave the Wildcats a 26-23 lead. It was a lead the team did not relinquish. Wise's three ball came in the middle of Arizona's 30-9 run that gave the ball club a bit of breathing room.

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise each logged 40 minutes Thursday in Corvallis, which isn't surprising since the trio combines to average 36.0 minutes per game. Budinger (1st), Wise (3rd) and Hill (7th) all rank among the minutes played leaders in the Pac-10. Budinger and Wise average better than 36 minutes per game.

CLIMBING QUICKLY: Chase Budinger dropped in 17 points Thursday night to move into 16th place on the Arizona career scoring list. He moved two places up the list with the effort Thursday, and boasts a scoring average of 16.7 points per game during his 88-game career. Incidentally, his double-figure tally against the Beavers was the 75th of his career.

NOT TO BE OUTDONE: If statistics hold true, Jordan Hill will become the 43rd player in Arizona history to score 1,000 career points. Presently, the 6-foot-10 junior forward from Atlanta, Ga., has 983 points and an 18.0 ppg average in 22 appearances this season. Twelve times this season Hill has scored 17 or more points in a game.

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: All year long turnovers have played a big role in Arizona's success, especially in road games. It might not seem like much, but Thursday's 14-14 turnover tie was more than a moral victory as Arizona is 10-0 this season when committing the same or less turnovers than the opposition. Thursday at Oregon State, Arizona turned it over 11 times in the first half and trailed 14-6 in turnover points at the break. Over the final 20 minutes, the Wildcats committed just three miscues and a 12-2 advantage in turnover points in the second half.

FIVE OR MORE: In addition to scoring the decisive bucket in Thursday's win, junior guard Nic Wise passed out a game-high five assists. The 5-foot-10 native of Houston, Texas, has posted five or more assists 12 times this year, and when he does, Arizona is 9-3.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Arizona limited Oregon State to just 39.2 percent shooting (20-of-51) Thursday, including 33.3 percent shooting (8-of-24) in the first half. That marked the eighth time in 2008-09 that the Wildcats have held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. Arizona outshot Oregon State, .489-.392, and moved to 12-4 this season when outshooting its opponent. Furthermore, UA held OSU to only 36.4 percent from behind the arc - this from a club that had connected on 54 percent of its three-point FG attempts in its previous four games.

NOT AS BAD AS EXPECTED: Even though Jordan Hill managed a season-low five rebounds Thursday, Arizona still held its own on the glass with a -2.0 rebound margin (28-30). Even though the Cats were outrebounded, it hasn't been tragic, as the team is 5-4 when beaten on the glass.

HEATING UP: During Arizona's current four-game win streak, the Cats increased the productivity at the offensive end. In that span, UA is averaging 81.0 points per game and has four players averaging 10 or more points individually. Look no further than Nic Wise's productivity as an example. In those four games, Wise is averaging 18.0 ppg and 12 of his 21 total field goals came from behind the arc. He's connected on 12-of-23 (.522) attempts from three-point range in that span.

STOLEN MOMENTS: Six different Wildcats tallied eight total steals in Thursday's win, which marked the third consecutive game with seven or more pilfers. In that span, Arizona is averaging 8.0 thefts per game, a figure that is 2.4 steals per game better than its season average (5.6 spg).

A NICE BOOST: Sophomore Jamelle Horne tallied modest numbers of three points, an assist and a steal in 28 minutes, but it was his work on the boards that jumped off the stat sheet. The 6-foot-6 San Diego, Calif., product grabbed seven boards with six of those coming in the second half, and ranks 14th in the Pac-10 with a 5.4 rebounds per game average.

GO LONG: When Arizona makes more than five three-point field goals in a game this season, the Cats are 12-1.

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: Arizona returns to the comforts of McKale Center following today's game. The Cats will next be in action on Thursday, Feb. 12, against USC. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.



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