Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats one rank away from No. 1 spot for first time in 11 seasons

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The last time the Arizona Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll was the week of March 10, 2003, leading up to the Pac-12 tournament with a 25-2 record overall.

The Wildcats, led by Jason Gardner, Channing Frye and Luke Walton, were ranked No. 1 in 14 different weeks that season. They were never ranked below No. 4 all season.

Eleven seasons later, the Arizona Wildcats are ranked No. 2 and on the verge of a top ranking. For that to happen this week, Arizona must defeat Texas Tech tonight and UNLV on Saturday afternoon at McKale Center, and No. 1 Michigan State must lose to visiting North Carolina tomorrow in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Lute Olson coached Arizona to its first No. 1 ranking in the week of Dec. 21, 1987. They Wildcats reached No. 1 in four seasons including 1987-88 and 2002-03.

Arizona went 61 weeks without being ranked from 2007-08 to 2010-11, which coincides with Lute Olson’s retirement and Arizona undergoing turbulence with interim staffs and Sean Miller beginning his rebuilding project.


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ArizonaLogo TexasTechlogo

Tip: 7:06 p.m., Tucson time
Television: Pac-12 Networks (J.B. Long/Matt Muehlebach)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93; XM 190
Rankings: Arizona – No. 2 Associated Press/No. 2 USA Today Coaches Poll; Texas Tech – Not ranked in either.

Fresh off an NIT Season Tip-Off championship, their fourth in the program’s history, the Arizona Wildcats will try to remain undefeated tonight against a Texas Tech team that has not beaten a ranked opponent in four years.

Tubby Smith is 0-2 against Arizona as head coach at Kentucky

Tubby Smith is 0-2 against Arizona while he was head coach at Kentucky

The Wildcats (7-0) proved they are one of the nation’s best during Friday’s 72-66 win over then-No. 6 Duke in the Tip-Off championship game at Madison Square Garden. Sean Miller’s team started 14-0 last year and ascended to as high as No. 3 in the rankings.

Tip-Off MVP Nick Johnson, also the Pac-12 Player of the Week, had all but two of his team-leading 15 points in the second half Friday and each Arizona starter scored in double figures. At 17 points per game, Johnson leads five Wildcats averaging at least 9.6. The 6’9′ Aaron Gordon, who averages 12.1 points, is pulling down 9.3 rebounds per game to lead three players averaging at least 6.4.

T.J. McConnell’s 6.4 assists per game ranks 12th-best in the country.

Though Duke was the first team to shoot better than 37.0 percent against the Wildcats, the Blue Devils matched their season low with a 43.1-percent effort. Arizona, outrebounding opponents by an average of 13.6, held a 36-28 edge versus Duke.

Arizona will attempt to win its seventh straight game over the Red Raiders (6-2), a former Border Conference foe. Johnson had 18 points and the Wildcats shot 56.6 percent during an 85-57 win at Texas Tech last season in the teams’ first meeting since December 1994.


NOTE: The brother of former Arizona safety Patrick Onwuasor is a freshman guard for the Red Raiders. Randy Onwuasor hails from Inglewood (Calif.) High school. He averages 3.8 points and 1.1 assists per game. Patrick Onwuasor was kicked off the Arizona football team in July following drug charges.

In their first season under coach Tubby Smith, the Red Raiders look to snap a 30-game losing streak against Top 25 opponents that dates to a 99-92 overtime win over then-No. 12 Washington on Dec. 3, 2009.

Senior forward Jaye Crockett averages team highs of 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for Texas Tech, which seeks a third consecutive victory following a 76-53 loss to Pittsburgh last Monday at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.

Crockett, who had 17 points and eight boards during a 94-64 win over Texas-San Antonio on Friday, finished with 12 and six against Arizona last season.

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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[/ezcol_1half_end] 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


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