No. 18 Arizona, 12-0 for the first time in school history, will look to start 2-0 in conference play tonight for only the eighth time since joining what was then the Pac-10 in the 1986-87 season.
Arizona won its conference opener Sunday at ASU (its first win in Tempe since 2000) and Adia Barnes’ team continues conference play at 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) at USC, which lost at UCLA on Sunday in its opener. The Trojans are 8-4.
The Wildcats actually started 2-0 last season in the Pac-12 with wins at home against ASU and on the road against Colorado but then went 5-11 the rest of the way. They finished December unbeaten for the second consecutive year.
— Dating back to last season’s six-game run to the WNIT title, Arizona has won a school-record 18-consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation.
— Arizona has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for six weeks this season, the most since the 2002-03 season.
— Arizona leads the country in field goal percentage defense (29.1 percent) and scoring defense (44.4 points a game). Arizona’s scoring margin of 28.1 points is the eighth-highest in the nation. The Wildcats are the only team in the Pac-12 to allow fewer than 50 points per game. They have not allowed a team to reach 60 points this season.
— Cate Reese was named Pac-12 Player of the Week this week for the second time in December and is the first player in the Pac-12 to be named Player of the Week twice this season.
— Aari McDonald, who has moved to 17th on the Arizona all-time scoring list, is 16th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (19.9 points a game). McDonald has scored in double-figures in 49 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 of USC is the other).
— The injury status of senior forward Dominique McBryde (left ankle sprain) is still uncertain. McBryde missed the game at ASU and has been out since Dec. 2.
— Barnes, in her fourth season as head coach at her alma mater, is 56-53 overall and 15-40 in regular-season Pac-12 games.
— In a series dating back to the 1977-78 season, USC is 58-24 against the Wildcats. Last year, Arizona beat USC 71-68 in Tucson and then won 76-48 in the first round of the 2019 Pac-12 Tournament at Las Vegas.
— The Trojans have been without Watts, a high-profile North Carolina graduate transfer guard, since the end of the November after she suffered a knee injury. She has played in only four games.
— Guards Shalexxus Aaron (foot) and Madison Campbell (back) have not yet competed for USC this season due to injury. Aaron is expected to return this season. When Watts and Aaron will return is the biggest question facing USC presently.
— USC has two freshman starters — guard Endyia Rogers and forward Alissa Pili — and seven freshmen overall on its 12-player roster. Rogers leads the starters with 10.8 points a game. Pili scored a career-high 28 points with 10 rebounds in the loss at UCLA.
— USC coach Mark Trakh is in his third year returning to coach the Trojans after coaching the school from 2004-09. He has also coached at Pepperdine (1993-2004) and New Mexico State (2011-17). He is 135-96 in his eighth year overall at USC. He has a regular-season Pac-12 record of 68-59. His overall coaching record is 438-295.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.