Never has an Arizona women’s basketball game on Super Bowl Sunday rivaled the interest of the football game because rarely have the Wildcats been ranked coming off a rout of a top 10 team.
Tipoff for USC vs. No. 16 Arizona at McKale Center today is slightly more than four hours before kickoff giving the die-hard Wildcat women’s hoops fans plenty of time to watch the game and go to their place of choice for the Super Bowl at 4:30 p.m. between San Francisco and Kansas City.
Arizona’s 92-66 win over No. 8 UCLA on Friday night was its first over a top 10 team since an 88-83 win over No. 7 Stanford at McKale Center on Feb. 5, 2004. It is the the largest margin of victory over a top 10 team since coach Adia Barnes as a senior led the No. 10 Wildcats to a 93-62 win over No. 7 Washington on Jan. 10, 1998.
The Wildcats (17-3, 6-3 Pac-12) are looking to extend their winning streak to five games as they face Trojans (11-9, 3-6) at McKale (Pac-12 Networks/KTUC 1400-AM).
Arizona won at USC 65-57 on Jan. 3. Aari McDonald had 24 points, six rebounds and five steals in the game, although she also had eight turnovers. She is coming off a two-turnover game against the Bruins.
Arizona hasn’t won four straight games against conference opponents since the 2010-11 season when it won five consecutive games, including a win over USC in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament.
The Wildcats haven’t won four straight conference regular-season games since the 2004-05 season. The longest conference winning streak for Arizona is six games, accomplished four different times, the last in 2003-04.
Arizona notables (some information from the Arizona media relations department):
— Jan. 31 is the earliest in school history that Arizona won its 17th game of the season.
— Arizona tied its season-high with 11 made 3-pointers vs. UCLA.
— Arizona is one of four teams in the nation to have their only losses be to current top 10 teams (Baylor, UConn and Gonzaga are the others). The Wildcats are 23-3 in their last 26 games. Only three teams in the nation have won more than 23 games in their last 26 (Baylor, UConn and Louisville).
— Arizona is sixth the country in scoring defense (51.9 points allowed a game) and first the Pac-12. Arizona’s field goal percentage defense (34.5) is 19th in the nation and third in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have held all of their Pac-12 opponents under their scoring average.
— Arizona has been ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll for 10 straight weeks for the first time since the 1999-00 season. It is the most appearances in the poll since the 15 in the 2002-03 season. A win today against the Trojans could assure the Wildcats their highest ranking since they were No. 7 during the 1997-98 season.
— McDonald has scored in double-figures in 57 straight games, her entire Arizona career and has scored at least 20 in three straight games. The 57 straight double-figure games is the longest active streak in the nation. Since the turn of the century, 57 games is the third-longest double-figure scoring streak among Pac-12 players. McDonald, who is ninth on the Arizona all-time scoring list, is 11th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (20.9 points a game). She is one of two players in the country to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and three assists per game and is the only Power 5 player to do so.
— Sam Thomas scored a season-high 20 points vs. UCLA on 4-of-5 shooting (4 of 4 from beyond the arc) and was 8 of 10 from the line. 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 3-pointers and blocks (Stephanie Watts of USC is the other). Thomas is second in the Pac-12 in career blocks among active players with 115. Shawntinice Polk holds the Arizona career record with 222 blocked shots from 2003-05.
— Cate Reese has gone five games without a double-double after recording six in the previous 11 games. She leads the team in rebounds averaging 8.0 a game.
— Arizona is 12-0 when Dominique McBryde is in the starting lineup.
— In the Trojans’ loss to Arizona last month, Aliyah Jeune led the team with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Endyia Rogers had 14 points but she shot 5 of 19 from the field with five turnovers. Rogers, a freshman, is coming off a career-high 30-point performance in Friday’s triple-overtime loss at No. 19 ASU. Fellow freshman Alissa Pili had 18 points against the Sun Devils.
— The loss to ASU snapped a three-game winning streak for the Trojans.
— USC has not won a road game since beating UC Santa Barbara 57-46 on Nov. 18, the fourth game of the regular season. The Trojans are 1-4 outside the state of California this season with the lone win against Alabama in the South Point Shootout at Las Vegas on Nov. 30.
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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.