Game Notes: March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009

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Date: Saturday, March 7, 2009 Time: 5:30 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 (18-11, 8-8 Pac-10) plays its final game of the regular season vs. Stanford (17-11, 6-11 Pac-10) Saturday evening in McKale Center ... Over the last 25 years, Arizona is an impressive 21-4 (.840) in regular season home finales. However, the Cats have dropped its last three 'Senior Day' tilts. Only twice has Stanford been the opponent in those games - in 1992 (89-83) and 1998 (90-58) - and both were Wildcat victories ...Look for three-point field goal shooting to play a role in this one: the Cardinal averages seven made treys per game are is shooting 38.3 percent as a team, while UA allows 8.1 treys per game an a .352 opposing three-point FG percentage

THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in the March 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 18-12 (.600) ... 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, 48, 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: Jerome Randle connected on 8-of-11 three-point attempts, en route to a game-high 31 points to lead the Golden Bears past the Wildcats, 83-77, Thursday. Randle scored 21 of those 31 points in the second half as Cal came from as many as 12 points down to win. Six of his treys came in the second period, including five in the last nine minutes. All told, 48 of Cal's 83 points came courtesy of the trey, as the Golden Bears tallied just 11 field goals inside the arc. Four Cats finished in double figures, led by Chase Budinger's 28 points, on a night that former coach Lute Olson was honored at halftime.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal enters tonight's contest with a 17-11 record (6-11 Pac-10) following Thursday's 74-64 win at Arizona State. On the season, Stanford shoots 46.0 percent (721-of-1,557) from the field, including 38.3 percent (197-of-514) from three-point range, is outrebounded by a +0.6 per game margin, and outscores its opponents by 5.1 points per game. Three Stanford players average in double figures, led by Anthony Goods' 15.9 ppg mark. Landry Fields holds the rebounding lead with a 6.5 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game marks the 78th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 48-29 series advantage. Arizona has won six of the last 10 in the series, but Stanford has won the last four, including a 76-60 triumph in Palo Alto, Calif., on Jan. 4. All-time, Arizona is 25-8 in series games played in Tucson, 19-18 in Palo Alto, Calif., and 4-3 in neutral site games. See page 94 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Stanford 76, Arizona 60, Jan. 4, 2009: Arizona sputtered offensively by committing 20 turnovers, failing to make a three-point field goal and passing out just five assists in the 16-point defeat. Stanford converted those 20 UA miscues into 20 points of its own while using 14 offensive rebounds to build a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points. Jordan Hill totaled 17 points and 16 rebounds and Nic Wise scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half for Arizona, but it wasn't enough to overcome its offensive inefficiency.

SENIOR CLASS: Arizona's senior class, which includes players David Bagga and Fendi Onobun, floor manager Jamal Boddie, and video manager Alan Peterson, makes its final appearance in front of the home fans today. Over the last four years, the Cats have won nearly 80 games, including a 47-16 (.746) record in McKale Center, won 20 games twice and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times.

ANSWERING THE CALL: Junior forward Chase Budinger poured in a season-high 28 points Thursday on 9-of-17 (.529) shooting to go with four assists. The 6-foot-7 native of Encinitas, Calif., notched his 12th career game of 25 or more points. Budinger moved into 13th place on the Arizona career points scored list with 1,604 points in 95 career games played (16.9 ppg) following Thursday's effort.

BETTER THAN EVER: Chase Budinger continues to put forth what is his best all-around season. Now in his third collegiate season, the junior forward has posted career bests in scoring (17.9 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg), assists (100), blocks (13), steals (43), three-point field goal percentage (.474) and minutes per game (37.5). He also leads the Wildcats in treys (59), three-point attempts (141), free throws (112) and free throw attempts (137).

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Jordan Hill continues to play like one of the best big men in the country, as witnessed by his performance Thursday vs. California. The 6-foot-10 junior logged 40 minutes on an ankle sprained last Saturday at Washington and knocked down 10-of-19 attempts to go with 14 boards, a career-high four assists and a blocked shot. Hill, who has finished in double figures in all but one of his 29 appearances this year, currently leads the Pac-10 with 17 double-doubles. He passed the 700-rebounds plateau for his career Thursday and averages 7.7 rebounds per game in 92 career appearances.

STOP THIS STEAK: The Wildcats enter today's game having lost its last four games played. In case you were wondering, last time the Cats lost four straight in the same season came Jan. 5-14, 1984, in what was Lute Olson's first season in Tucson. The last time the program lost five or more also happened during that 1983-84 campaign.

DEFEND THE ARC: During Arizona's current four-game losing streak, the Wildcats have been derelict in its ability to guard the perimeter. Over the last four games, UA opponents have connected on 44-of-97 (.454) of its three-point field goal attempts and foes are averaging made treys per game in that span. Additionally, those treys account for 42 percent of the opponents made field goals (44 of 105). By comparison, UA has hit 27-of-72 (.375) shots from behind the arc in those same four games.

A VICTORY OF SORTS: Though it fell six points shy of the desired objective Thursday, Arizona did manage of victory of sorts: the rebounding battle. UA outrebounded California, 35-31, as Jordan Hill (14) and Jamelle Horne (9) combined for 23 boards. It was the first time in four games that Arizona has posted a rebounding edge and just the second time in the last nine. This season, the Wildcats are 11-5 when outrebounding the opposition.

STRONGER SECOND HALF: Once again, things got away from the Cats in the second half, as the Golden Bears outscored UA, 49-39, to erase a four-point halftime deficit. In the last three games, UA opponents have combined to shoot .557 (49-of-88) from the field in the second half. In that same span, Arizona connected on 46.5 percent (40-of-86) of its FG attempts and was outscored by a combined 38 points in the final period. On the year, Arizona outscores the opposition by an average of 2.3 points per game.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Another positive statistics of note during UA's current four-game losing streak is the fact that Arizona has done a good job of taking care of the ball. In those four contests, UA is averaging just 10.0 turnovers per game and committed 10 or less in three of those games. That 10.0 turnovers per game figure is down from the Cats' season average of 12.7 miscues per game. Incidentally, Arizona is 13-3 this season when winning (or equal) the turnover battle, but each of those defeats have come in the last four ball games.

DOUBLE FIGURES: Jordan Hill sank 10 field goals in Thursday's game en route to 24 points and added 14 rebounds to register his 17th double-double of the season. For the junior from Atlanta, Ga., it marked the second straight and eighth time this season that he has collected 10 or more field goals in a single game. As mentioned earlier, Hill's 17 double-doubles lead the Pac-10 this year, and that total to date is nearly double that of any Wildcat in a single-season in the last nine years. Since the start of the 2000-01 season, no Cat has had more than nine double-doubles over the course of a season: Michael Wright (2001), 9; Luke Walton (2002), 9; Channing Frye (2003, 2005), 9; and Jordan Hill (2008), 9.

A RARITY: Arizona posted some solid shooting of its own on Thursday, connecting on 14-of-26 (.538) attempts in the second half to finish with a .474 FG percentage for the game. The Wildcats actually outshot California, .474-.458, which was just the fifth time this season that Arizona has posted a better shooting percentage and lost the game. Arizona is 15-5 when outshooting the opposition, including a 10-2 record in McKale Center.

A SPARK: Forward Jamelle Horne was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in 13 games and responded with 13 points and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from San Diego, Calif., hit 4-of-7 field goals, equaled a career high with two treys, passed out two assists and did not commit a turnover in 34 minutes of action. Horne, who averages 6.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, posted his seventh double-figure scoring game of the year. Incidentally, it was his highest offensive output since Jan. 8 vs. Oregon (15 pts.) and his highest rebounding total since Dec. 23 vs. Kansas (13 reb.).

GOTTA GET HIM GOING: It's been said of Arizona all season long that Nic Wise is the guy that makes the Cats go, and now they need to get him restarted. Over the last four games, Wise is shooting just 34.0 percent (16-of-47) from the floor, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from behind the arc. In that same span, Wise has 15 assists against 12 turnovers, good for a 1.25:1 assist:turnover ratio, which is down from his season ratio of 1.57:1. When the 5-foot-10 Wise passes out five or more assists this season, the Cats are 10-4.

IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 50-26 (.658) record in the month of March. In that span, 35 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 24-11 (.686) in them. Over the three previous seasons, the Cats were 7-9 in March.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 84 points Feb. 14 vs. UCLA, breaking the 80-point barrier for the eighth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 178-19 (.904) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 8-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.

UP NEXT: Following today's contest, Arizona heads to Los Angeles for the 2009 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament, March 11-14 at Staples Center. Seedings and start times are still to be announced. First-round, quarterfinals and semifinals will be televised on FOX Sports Net. The championship game will air on CBS-TV.

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