UArizona heads to El Paso for final non-conference road trip

UArizona heads to El Paso for final non-conference road trip
The Arizona Wildcats will put their 14-game winning streak on the line as they face the UTEP Miners on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center. (Source: Mike Christy)

The Arizona Wildcats will put their 14-game winning streak on the line as they face the UTEP Miners on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.

Saturday’s game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

FROM THE TIP

  • Arizona will go on their final road trip of the non-conference season as they face UTEP on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST.
  • The Wildcats have won their first eight games of the season for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
  • Dating back to last season, Arizona has won a school-record 14-consecutive games.
  • Arizona won seven games in the month of November for the first time in school history.
  • The Wildcats allowed just 27 points to UC Riverside on Nov. 29, the fewest since joining the Pac-10.
  • Arizona is ranked in the top 20 for the first time since 2003.
  • Arizona's scoring margin of 33.5 is the second-highest in the nation behind Baylor.
  • The Wildcats have won their last four games by an average margin of 41.3 points.
  • Arizona's 52-point win over Monmouth is the largest margin of victory since December, 4 2004.
  • The Wildcats are one of two teams in the nation in the top five in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense (Baylor).
  • Arizona is second in the nation and leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense (44.1) and is the only team in the conference to allow fewer than 50 points per game.
  • Aari McDonald is 11th in the country and scoring and tops in the Pac-12.
  • McDonald was named Player of the Week last week by ESPNw, the USBWA and the Pac-12 last week after averaging 34 points per game on 79% (23-39) shooting from the field and 100% (20-20) from the line in two road wins.
  • McDonald was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List on Thursday.
  • For the first time since December of 2000, Arizona won three-straight games while scoring at least 80 points in each of those games.
  • McDonald was one rebound short of her first-career triple double as she had 15 points, a career-high 14 assists and nine rebounds. 14 assists is the fifth-most in a single game in school history.
  • Sam Thomas became the 11th player in school history to make 100 threes in their career at Montana.
  • 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 Preseason 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 Preseason 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.

A Historic Week

McDonald broke the Arizona single-game scoring record on Nov. 17 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. 44 points is the second-most any player in the country has scored this season.

National Recognition for Aari

McDonald 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. On Thursday, she was named to the first Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List of the season.

Flirting with the Trip-Dub

McDonald was one rebound shy of her first-career triple-double against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 20. She finished the game with 15 points, a career-high 14 assists and nine rebounds. 14 assists is tied for the fifth-most in school history, while McDonald is the first Wildcat since Reshea Bristol to have at least 14 assists in a game (2001).

Scoring at a High Level of Efficiency

Not only is McDonald averaging 21 points per game, she is shooting a scalding 57.4% from the field. McDonald is one of three players in the nation to average at least 20 points per game while shooting over 53% from the field.

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.

I’ll Have a Double-Double

Last season, Reese led all Pac-12 freshmen with seven double-doubles, and has two this season after a 16-point and 11-rebound performance vs. Monmouth. She needs one more double-double to become the 12th player in school history with at least 10 double-doubles. Reese is second on the team with 13.8 points per game and averages a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game, which is the third in the Pac-12.

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. 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 58% (28-48) from the field and 52% from three (12-23) and became the 11th player in school history to make 100 career triples at Montana. Over her last 148 minutes on the floor, she has turned the ball over just three times and has 15 assists in that time period.

Spanish Smooth

Expectations were high for Helena Pueyo coming into her freshman season, and through eight games, she has not disappointed. Pueyo has brought a spark off the bench all year, especially from behind the arc as she has made 15 triples this year, which leads the team. On the season, she is shooting 55% from the field and 48% from three while playing over 20 minutes per game off the bench, the most of any non-starter. She is averaging 12.3 points per game in her last four and had a career-high 15 vs. Monmouth on Monday.

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 Barnesand the Arizona Wildcats. Considered the best post defender on the team, McBryde averages two per game, which is tied with McDonald for the most on the team. McBryde will play her second and final year for the Wildcats this season after transferring from Purdue prior to the 2017-18 season.

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 four points away from 1,000 for her career.

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 second-highest career three-point percentage in school history at 39.3%. She became the 10th player in school history to make 100 three-pointers in a career last season and is two away from being in a tie for eighth.

Most Made 3-Pointers in Arizona History

6. Julie Brase – 125 (118 games)

7. Natalie Jones – 117 (126 games)

8. Kama Griffits – 110 (56 games)

9. Lucia Alonso – 109 (100 games)

10. Monika Crank – 106 (118 games)

11. Sam Thomas – 102 (75 games)

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.

Long Range Latvian

Mara Mote leads the Wildcats in three-point percentage through the first eight games of the season as she is shooting 7-13 (54%) from distance. She had a breakout performance vs. UC Riverside, making four of her five attempts for a career-high 12 points.

Ranked

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Arizona Wildcats are ranked in both the AP poll and the coaches poll. This week, the Wildcats check in at No. 20 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the coaches poll. The Wildcats are in the top 20 for the first time since 2003.

It’s Been 20 Years

For the first time since the 1999-00 season and the third time in program history, Arizona has started the season winning eight-consecutive games. In both the 1995-96 and 1999-00 seasons, Arizona won their first nine games of the season and lost their 10th.

Lock It Up

Arizona’s defense has been suffocating to start the season, allowing just 44.1 points per game and forcing opponents to shoot just 29% from the field. Per 100 possessions, the Wildcats are allowing fewer than 63.3 points per game, a mark that is in the top five in the country. Additionally, no team has reached the 60-point mark against the Cats this season.

Cooking Up Some Turnovers

The Wildcats are turning over their opponents 21.8 times per game this season. Of the eight Wildcats that average at least 10 minutes per game, six of them have at least 11 steals on the season, with Aari McDonald leading the way with 19.

Winning Big

Arizona’s scoring margin of +33.4 is tops in the Pac-12 and second in the nation. Over the last four games, Arizona is winning their games by 41.3 points. The Cats’ 52-point victory was their largest margin of victory since Dec. 4, 2004.

Give me 80

For the first time since December of 2000, Arizona won three-straight games while scoring at least 80 points in each of those games. 82 – Chicago State (Nov. 12)83 – Texas (Nov. 17)83 – Prairie View A&M (Nov. 20)

Coming in Hot

Through six games, Arizona is outscoring their opponents by an average of 11.1 points in the first quarter. In total, Arizona has outscored their opponents 162-73 in the first quarter. Last time out, Arizona led Monmouth 14-10 at the end of the first.

A November to Remember

For the first time in school history, Arizona won seven games in the month of November.

A Defensive Performance for the Ages

Against UC Riverside on Nov. 29, Arizona put up one of the best defensive performances in school history. For starters, the Highlanders scored just 27 points in the entire game, the fewest an Arizona opponent has scored since joining the Pac-10. Additionally, UC Riverside made just nine field goals, which is also the fewest Arizona has allowed since joining the Pac. The Highlanders did not make a basket in the second quarter.

We’re Back

Arizona returns 95% of it’s scoring from the 2018-19 season, which is the fourth-most of any power five team in the country.

Tucson Loves Their Cats

The WNIT run captivated the city of Tucson last spring as the average attendance for the six games was 7,600, capped off by a sellout crowd of 14,644 for the WNIT Championship on April 6, 2019, breaking the Pac-12 attendance record. Arizona’s game against North Dakota broke the program record for attendance at a home opener (3,450). Through the first few weeks of the season, Arizona is third in the Pac-12 and 17th in the nation in average attendance (5,406).