A struggling USC team has upset a hot Arizona Wildcats team before in historic game


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Fast-break notes about Arizona’s game tonight against USC …

>> The Wildcats have been here before and I was there to witness it at the old L.A. Sports Arena. The 1997-98 team won 19 consecutive games and was 16-0 in the Pac-10 when it faced USC on March 5, 1998. The Trojans were 7-19 and on a seven-game losing streak. USC prevailed 91-90 in overtime against the second-ranked Wildcats, the defending national champs, in one of the biggest upsets in conference history.

>> The Trojans won in unlikely fashion as little-used reserve Adam Spanich — remember that name? — threw up a prayer in the last second. The ball hit the heel of the rim with a thud and rolled into the basket.

“It’s probably the biggest win for USC in terms of beating a team of that stature,” USC coach Henry Bibby, who topped his son Mike Bibby in the game, told the Los Angeles Times.

>> Top-ranked Arizona, looking to break the school record of 16 wins to start a season, faces a struggling USC team tonight at the Galen Center that has lost three out of its last five games and was smoked by UCLA (107-73 loss) and ASU (79-60) to start the Pac-12 season.

>> The most significant difference of the 1997-98 team and Arizona’s team this season is the offensive firepower in relation to the defense. The Wildcats’ success this season is predicated on its defense and rebounding. The 1997-98 team could score with anyone. Simon, Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Co. averaged an astounding school-record 90.8 points a game that season while allowing opponents 74.6.

Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell, Aaron Gordon and Co. are averaging a respectable 75.1 points a game while allowing only 56.2, which ranks fifth in the country. If that marks stands, it will be the lowest amount since the 1950-51 team allowed only 53.3 points a game.


ArizonaLogo logo.USC2

NO. 1 ARIZONA (16-0, 3-0) VS.
USC (9-6, 0-2)

Tip: 7:05 p.m. MST
Television: Pac-12 Networks (JB Long/Don MacLean/Yogi Roth)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 91; XM 91
Rankings: Arizona – No. 1 Associated Press/No. 1 USA Today Coaches Poll; USC – not ranked in either.

ARIZONA BEST STARTS

Record Team Finish Coach
16-0 2013-14 ??? Sean Miller
16-0 1931-32 18-2 Fred Enke Sr.
14-0 2012-13 27-8 Sean Miller
12-0 1987-88 35-3 Lute Olson
9-0 1914-15 9-0 Pop McKale
9-0 1921-22 10-2 James Pierce

PAC-12 STANDINGS

CONF OVRL
W-L GB PCT W-L PCT STRK
#1 Arizona 3-0 1.000 16-0 1.000 W16
#15 Colorado 3-0 1.000 14-2 .875 W4
California 3-0 1.000 12-4 .750 W4
Arizona State 2-1 1 .667 13-3 .813 W2
Washington 2-1 1 .667 10-6 .625 W1
UCLA 1-1 1.5 .500 12-3 .800 L1
#17 Oregon 1-2 2 .333 13-2 .867 L2
Utah 1-2 2 .333 12-3 .800 L1
Oregon State 1-3 2.5 .250 9-7 .563 L1
Stanford 0-2 2.5 .000 9-5 .643 L2
USC 0-2 2.5 .000 9-6 .600 L2
Washington State 0-3 3 .000 7-8 .467 L3

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 16 16 374 492 .760
Kaleb Tarczewski C 14 13 246 368 .668
Aaron Gordon SF 16 16 311 481 .647
Brandon Ashley PF 16 16 279 453 .616
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 16 2 227 369 .615
Gabe York SG 16 1 152 306 .497
T.J. McConnell PG 16 16 239 488 .490
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 8 0 21 41 .512
Elliott Pitts SG 6 0 8 35 .229
Jordin Mayes PG 15 0 13 89 .146
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Jacob Hazzard PG 7 0 11 19 .579
Trey Mason SG 6 0 7 16 .438
Erik Conklin F 6 0 7 16 .438
Drew Mellon F 5 0 2 11 .182
Zach Peters C 4 0 -3 16 -.188
TOTAL TEAM 1894 3200 .592

ARIZONA’S STRENGTHS VS. QUESTION MARKS
Per NCAA national statistic rankings out of 345 Division I teams

Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat
#5 Scoring def 56.2 pts #274 3pt FG made 5.1 avg
#5 Reb margin 11.4 avg #247 Steals 5.6 avg
#6 FG% defense 36.8 #223 3pt FG made 83
#8 Scoring margin 18.9 #223 FT% shooting 67.9
#17 3FG% defense 28.3 #194 Total steals 90

Arizona is No. 1 and 16-0 despite deficiencies with total steals, free-throw shooting and number of three-pointers made. Arizona is solid with its rebounding, defense in particular in the lane and overall shooting percentage. The Wildcats are taking smart shots by taking advantage of their size inside. Turnovers are another concern after Arizona committed 17 at UCLA on Thursday. The Wildcats average 11.6 turnovers a game — Sean Miller wants no more than 10 — and rank 82nd nationally in that category. USC, which averages 14.1 turnovers a game, struggles from three-point range (only 30 percent shooting) and has a rebounding margin of only plus-3.5 compared to Arizona’s 11.4.

ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM

Season Rec. Pct.
1987-88
December 21-January 3 3-1 .750
January 11-February 7 6-1 .857
1988-89
February 6-February 12 1-1 .500
February 27-March 13 5-0 1.000
1997-98
November 20-November 30 4-1 .800
2000-01
November 20-November 26 3-1 .750
2002-03
November 23-December 22 5-1 .833
January 20-February 2 3-1 .750
February 10-March 16 7-1 .875
2013-14
December 9-January 12 7-0 1.000
TOTAL 44-8 .846

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.



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