Wildcats move up national polls following upset of Longhorns

Wildcats move up national polls following upset of Longhorns
Aari McDonald was named Player of the Week by ESPNw, the USBWA and the Pac-12 after averaging 34 points per game. (Source: Mike Christy)

TUCSON, Ariz. - For the first time in 15 years, the Arizona Wildcats (4-0) will be playing a game as a ranked team as they are face Prairie View A&M (1-3) Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Tip-off is 11 a.m. at the McKale Center.

Wednesday’s game will be live streamed on ArizonaWildcats.com and it will also be Arizona’s annual School Day. Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. MST

Live Stream: ArizonaWildcats.com

Twitter: @ArizonaWBB#MadeForIt

FROM THE TIP

  • Arizona is back home on Wednesday for School Day as they take on Prairie View A&M at 11 a.m. MST. The Wildcats are coming off a statement win over No. 22 Texas on the road where Aari McDonald scored a school-record 44 points.
  • Aari McDonald was named Player of the Week by ESPNw, the USBWA and the Pac-12 this week after averaging 34 points per game on 79% (23-39) shooting from the field and 100% (20-20) from the line.
  • The Wildcats are ranked No. 24 in the coaches poll for the first time since 2004. They are also receiving the second-most votes of all unranked teams in the AP poll.
  • Arizona enters the season as the reigning WNIT Champions and return eight players from last year's team while only losing two to graduation.
  • The Wildcats welcome in seven newcomers, including six that were born outside of the United States.
  • McDonald was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List, which recognizes the top shooting guard in the country, was named Preseason All-Pac-12 and was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 and the Wade Trophy Watch List.
  • Cate Reese was named to the Katrina McClain Award Watch List, which recognizes the top power forward in the country. Reese scored a career-high 22 points in the season opener.
  • Arizona won 24 games last season, the most of any Arizona team in the last 15 years.
  • The Wildcats had an 18-win turnaround last season, the largest in school history. It was also the second-largest of any Division I team since 2000.

Another Year of Aari

All-American Aari McDonaldhad a tremendous season for the Arizona Wildcats last year, finishing the season as the nation’s third-leading scorer and the Pac-12′s leading scorer at 24.1 points per game. She came into the 2019-20 season as the nation’s top returning scorer and the new Arizona single-season scoring record holder. Below is a list of accomplishments McDonald achieved last season.

  • Arizona single-season scoring record holder (890)
  • AP and WBCA Honorable Mention All-American
  • Became the first Wildcat since Davellyn Whyte (2012) to be named an All-American
  • All-Pac-12
  • Pac-12 All-Defense
  • Three-Time Pac-12 Player of the Week
  • Arizona Athletics Female Co-Sophomore of the Year
  • Scored the fourth-most points in one season in Pac-12 history
  • Tied the Arizona single-game scoring record in her second game as a Wildcat on Nov. 13, 2018
  • Scored 34 points against Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament, the most for an Arizona player
  • Was the only player since 2000 with 800 points, 200 rebounds, 150 assists and 90 steals in one season
  • Is one of two players in Pac-12 history with 800 points and 150 assists in one season (Kelsey Plum)

A Historic Week

McDonald broke the Arizona single-game scoring record on Tuesday with 44 points on the road vs. No. 22 Texas. She was incredibly efficient, making 14 of her 18 attempts while making all 14 of her free throws. The junior was named Player of the Week by ESPNw, the USBWA and the Pac-12 after averaging 34 points per game on 79% shooting from the field vs. Chicago State and Texas.

Preseason National Recognition for Aari

McDonald has garnered a ton of preseason attention this season, as she was named preseason All-Pac-12 and was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List, Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 and the Wade Award Watch List.

Cate the Great

Cate Reese, who had one of the best freshman seasons in Arizona history, will look to take another step in her career after averaging 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last year. During the 2018-19 season, Reese was named Pac-12 All-Freshman and was a three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, the first in Arizona history. She led all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring and rebounding and also had the most double-doubles of all Pac-12 freshmen. During Arizona’s run to the WNIT Championship, Reese averaged over 14 points per game. Before this season started, she was named to the Katrina McClain Award Watch List, which recognizes the top power forward in the country.

Season Openers Are Good to Cate

Reese scored a career-high 22 points in the season-opener vs. North Dakota on Tuesday. Last season, she scored 21 points in the opener.

I’m Coming Home Again

Reese played in her home state for the first time in her college career against No. 22 Texas and showed out in front of tons of family and friends. In 30 minutes, she scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals. She was dared to shoot the three, so she went 3-4 from behind the arc, which is a new career high.

Sam I Am

Known as one of the best defenders on the team Sam Thomas was the only player in the Pac-12 to average at least 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Throughout a game, you can find Thomas guarding the opposing team’s point guard or center. Not only is she an incredible defender, she was also Arizona’s third-leading scorer last year at 9.3 points per game and averaged double-figures in Pac-12 play. She became a threat from long distance last year, making 47 threes, the second-most on the team. She is scalding hot to start the season, shooting 54% (14-26) from the field and 54% from three (7-13). She had five steals against Texas.

McBryde’s Magic

Her numbers may not jump off the page, but Dominique McBryde proves day in and day out how important she is to Adia Barnes and the Arizona Wildcats. Considered the best post defender on the team, McBryde was third on the team just under five rebounds per game and pitched in 33 steals and 22 blocks last season while starting 35 games last season. McBryde will play her second and final year for the Wildcats this season after transferring from Purdue prior to the 2017-18 season. She was a menace on the defensive end against Chicago State, swiping six steals and is third in the Pac-12 at 2.8 per game.

Buenos Dias, Lucia

Senior guard Lucia Alonso was Adia Barnes’ first recruit back when she took over the Arizona program for the 2016-17 season, and her senior season is now upon us. Known as a knockdown three-point shooter, Alonso has the highest career three-point percentage in school history at 39.8%. She became the 10th player in school history to make 100 three-pointers in a career last season and is three away from being in a tie for eighth.

Tee Tee is Back

At the beginning of last season, Tee Tee Starks had made the decision that this would be her final year playing college basketball. On senior day, she announced that she will be returning for her final year of eligibility and will be a fifth-year senior for the 2019-20 season. It’s no secret that Starks causes absolute havoc on the defensive end, and the numbers show it. In the 15 games against Pac-12 teams she played at least 10 minutes in last season, opponents averaged 64.5 points per game while shooting 40% from the field. In the five Pac-12 games she either missed or played fewer than 10 minutes, opponents averaged 74 points per game and shot 47% from the field.

Nice to Meet You Amari

Amari Carter decided to spend her fourth year of eligibility in Tucson after grad transferring from Penn State this past summer, and she will certainly play an important role for Barnes and the Wildcats. After only playing in one game during her freshman season due to injury, she went on to average over 10 points per game over her next three, including 14.2 per game during her junior season. She is 16 points away from 1,000 for her career and will also be a three-point threat for the Wildcats as she averages over one make per game.

Spanish Smooth

Expectations were high for Helena Pueyo coming into her freshman season, and through three games, she has not disappointed. Pueyo has done a little bit of everything, averaging 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 assists per game in 18 minutes per game, the most of any non-starter. She was the best player on the floor against Chicago State, scoring 11 points to go along with seven steals, five rebounds and three assists.

Ranked

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Arizona Wildcats are ranked in the coaches poll. This week, the Wildcats check in at No. 24 and are receiving the second-most votes of any unranked team in the AP poll.