No. 18 Wildcats open conference play at Arizona State

No. 18 Wildcats open conference play at Arizona State
Arizona head basketball coach Adia Barnes.

TUCSON, Ariz. - No. 18 Arizona will head to Tempe to open Pac-12 play against Arizona State.

Tip-off is set for noon Sunday at Desert Financial Arena. The game will be on the Pac-12 Networks and 1400 AM.

Dating back to last season, the Wildcats (11-0) have won 17 consecutive games. Not only is that a school record, but it also the longest active streak in the nation.

FROM THE TIP

  • Arizona has been ranked in the top 20 in the AP Poll for four-straight weeks for the first time since 2000.
  • Sunday marks the sixth time Arizona and ASU will face off with only Arizona ranked in the AP Poll. The last time Arizona was ranked higher than 18 in the AP Poll when facing ASU was when the Cats were ranked No. 9 on Feb. 14, 1998.
  • Arizona leads the country in field goal percentage defense (29.0%) and scoring defense (43.6).
  • The Wildcats are in the top 10 in the nation in both field goal percentage (47.9%) and field goal percentage defense (29.0%).
  • Arizona’s scoring margin of 30.2 is the fourth-highest in the nation.
  • Cate Reese was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Dec. 9 for the first time in her career. It is also the first time since the 2004-05 season that two Wildcats have been named Conference Player of the Week in one season.
  • Arizona is the only team in the Pac-12 to allow fewer than 50 points per game.
  • The Wildcats haven’t allowed 50 points in a game since Nov. 17 and haven’t allowed 60 points in a game all season.
  • Aari McDonald is 18th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (19.9).
  • McDonald has scored in double-figures in 48-straight games, her entire Arizona career.
  • Sam Thomas is the only player in school history to have 100 career made threes and blocks and is one of two current Pac-12 players with 100 career threes and blocks (Stephanie Watts – USC).

Last Time Out

Arizona capped off their undefeated non-conference slate with a 61-42 win over UC Santa Barbara. Aari McDonald stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Amari Carter scored her 1,000th-career point and had three steals as well.

Scoring at a High Level of Efficiency

Not only is McDonald averaging 19.9 points per game, which leads the conference and is 18th in the nation, she is shooting 51% from the field. Of the 32 players in the nation who average at least 19 points per game, she is one of four to do so while shooting at least 51%. McDonald is also a model of consistency as she has scored in double-figures in 48-straight games, the entirety of her Arizona career.

A Historic Week

McDonald broke the Arizona single-game scoring record on Nov. 17 with 44 points on the road vs. No. 22 Texas, becoming the 11th player in Pac-12 history to score at least 44 points in a game. 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 and only eight other players in the country have scored 40 in one game. The last Pac-12 player to score 44 points in a game was Kelsey Plum (Feb. 25, 2017).

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. She was named to the first Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List of the season on Dec. 5.

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).

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.

I’ll Have a Double-Double

Last season, Reese led all Pac-12 freshmen with seven double-doubles, and has three this season after a 19-point and 17-rebound performance at UTEP, becoming the 12th player in school history with at least 10 double-doubles. Reese is second on the team with 14 points per game and averages a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game, which is the fourth in the Pac-12.

First Timer

Reese was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Dec. 9 after averaging 17.5 points and 14 rebounds per game on 59% shooting vs. Monmouth and UTEP. On the road at UTEP while the Wildcats were shorthanded, especially in the post, Reese carried the load scoring a game-high 19 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds. She also blocked three shots.

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 last year and is currently the only player in the Pac-12 to average two steals and a block 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. Her percentages are up this year as she is shooting 52% (38-73) from the field and 42% from three (14-33)

100-100

Thomas became the 11th player in school history to make 100 career triples at Montana and blocked three shots against UTEP to become the sixth player in school history with 100 career blocks. She is the only player in school history with 100 three-pointers and blocks and is one of two current Pac-12 players with 100 career threes and blocks (Stephanie Watts – USC). 102 of Watts’ blocks came while she played at North Carolina.

Spanish Smooth

Expectations were high for Helena Pueyo coming into her freshman season, and through the first 10 games of her career, she has not disappointed. Pueyo has brought a spark off the bench all year, especially from behind the arc as she has made 17 triples this year at a 49% clip and is fourth on the team at 8.3 points per game.

Amari Joins the 1K Club

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 scored her 1,000th-career point vs. UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 21.

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 39.6%. She became the 10th player in school history to make 100 three-pointers in a career last season and is currently in eighth place all-time.

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.

Ranked

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Arizona Wildcats were ranked in both the AP poll and the coaches poll on Nov. 26. This week, the Wildcats check in at No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 18 in the coaches poll. Arizona has been ranked in the top 20 in the AP Poll for four-straight weeks for the first time since 2000.

A Dream Start

For the first time in program history, Arizona has started the season 11-0.

Going Streaking

Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 17-straight games, which is the longest active streak in the country and is a school record.

Lock It Up

Arizona’s defense has been suffocating to start the season, allowing under 44 points per game and forcing opponents to shoot just 29% from the field, which both lead the nation. The Wildcats are allowing 62.6 points per 100 possessions, the second-best in the country. Additionally, no team has reached the 60-point mark against the Cats this season and are allowing just 38.3 points per game in their last six.

Cooking Up Some Turnovers

The Wildcats are turning over their opponents 21.4 times per game this season, the second-most in the Pac-12. Six players have at least 13 steals on the season, with Aari McDonald leading the way with 27. Arizona has three of the top seven players in the Pac-12 in steals per game.

Winning Big

Arizona’s scoring margin of +30.2 is second in the Pac-12 and fourth in the nation. Through the first 11 games of the season, Arizona has yet to win by single digits and have seven wins by at least 30 points. The Cats’ 52-point victory vs. Monmouth was their largest margin of victory since Dec. 4, 2004.

Coming in Hot

Through 11 games, Arizona is outscoring their opponents by an average of 10.8 points in the first quarter. In total, Arizona has outscored their opponents 226-107 in the first quarter. Last time out, Arizona led UC Santa Barbara 14-11 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.

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).

Bang That Drum

Arizona started a new tradition at the beginning of the season. After a home victory, a player bangs a customized Arizona drum the number wins the Wildcats have on the season.

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.

Barnes’ Numbers vs. Arizona State as a Player

Head coach Adia Barnes averaged 21.6 points and 7.6 rebounds as a player versus the Sun Devils. She made her presence felt from the get go, scoring 31 points and hauling in 18 rebounds in her first career game against Arizona State on Jan. 7, 1995. In eight career games vs. ASU, Barnes came out victorious in each one as a player.