These are the type of games Adia Barnes envisioned when she returned to her alma mater in 2016 — her Wildcats playing against another ranked team at McKale Center.
No. 18 Arizona (13-1, 2-1) will play No. 3 Oregon State (14-0, 2-0) tonight at 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/KTUC 1400-AM) to begin one of the most anticipated weekends in the 47-year history of the program. No. 2 Oregon (13-1, 3-0) visits on Sunday at noon.
The last time Arizona played another ranked team at McKale Center was on Feb. 27, 2003, when the No. 24 Wildcats upset No. 9 Stanford 79-64. A crowd of 2,770 showed up. Joan Bonvicini’s 22-9 team that finished 13-5 in the Pac-10 also beat No. 20 Washington at McKale Center that season but the Wildcats were not ranked when that happened.
All 😁 to be able to play in front of the BEST fans in the country this weekend‼️ pic.twitter.com/Oq5miIQPZK
Arizona will attempt to break a 0-50 stretch against teams ranked in the top 10. Its last win against such an opponent was over No. 7 Stanford on Feb. 5, 2004.
Barnes has a solid fan base that is responsible for Arizona ranking third in the Pac-12 (behind Oregon and Oregon State) in attendance drawing 4,650 fans a game this season. Oregon is averaging 9,836 while Oregon State is at 5,451.
If the Zona Zoo — Arizona’s student body — shows up and the Wildcats keep winning, Barnes’ program can challenge Oregon for the top attendance mark in the conference. She has mentioned that she can envision upwards to 10,000 or more attending games at McKale on a regular basis.
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Classes have not yet begun for the spring semester at Arizona, but you would have to think there are thousands of students in Tucson preparing for school. If Arizona is to get more than 8,000 tonight and Sunday, the students will have to show up, plain and simple.
— Arizona has won 13 straight games at McKale Center dating to last March’s 65-60 double-overtime win for the Beavers.
— Arizona leads the country in scoring defense (47.1 points allwed per game). Arizona is the only team in the Pac-12 to allow fewer than 50 points per game.
— Arizona’s field goal percentage defense (31 percent) is third in the nation and first in the Pac-12.
— In their last four games against Oregon State, Arizona is averaging just 4.8 turnovers per game.
— Arizona has been ranked for seven weeks, the last five at No. 18, marking its longest stretch in the rankings since the Wildcats were ranked 15 times in 2002-03.
Come and watch Aari in action this Friday and Sunday! We want to PACK THE HOUSE!!😤 pic.twitter.com/2XfvWyC3zR
— Aari McDonald was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 on Wednesday. McDonald, who is 15th on the Arizona career scoring list, is 15th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac12 (20.1 points a game). McDonald has scored in double-figures in 51-straight games, her entire Arizona career. McDonald’s 51-straight double-figure games is the second-longest active streak in the nation (Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M is at 53).
— Cate Reese was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on last week for the second time in December and was the first player in the Pac-12 to be named Player of the Week twice this season. Reese’s five double-doubles is the fourth-most in the Pac-12 behind Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu and Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec.
— 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). Thomas moved into 10th place all-time in Arizona history for made three-pointers (107).
Oregon State notables
— In the last meeting between the Beavers and Wildcats on the final day of the 2018-19 regular season, Pivec scored 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in 47 minutes. She is averaging 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season. Pivec leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She is ranked No. 13 on ESPNW’s Top-25 players in NCAA women’s basketball.
— The Beavers, whose No. 3 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll matches their highest in program history, have been ranked in every USA Today/WBCA Coaches’ poll, dating back to the 2013-14 postseason rankings. Oregon State is one of four teams in the nation to be ranked every week over that period, joining UConn, Baylor, and Maryland.
— PG Destiny Slocum was on the Preseason Watch Lists for the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy and Lieberman Award. She is No. 9 on ESPNW’s list of the top-25 players in NCAA women’s basketball. She has 423 career assists between playing for Oregon State and Maryland, good for 23rd among active players and the most among non-seniors. Slocum played for the Terrapins under former Arizona player Brenda Frese.
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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.