The strange Pac-12 schedule comes closer to an end this week with No. 11 Arizona finishing its regular season against two sets of conference opponents the Wildcats have yet to face this season — the Rocky Mountain schools and Bay area schools.
The Wildcats (21-4, 10-4) first play at Utah (12-13, 5-9) tonight at 7 p.m. Tucson time. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Network and broadcast on KTUC (1400-AM).
Adia Barnes‘ team has won four straight games and eight of its last nine games to put itself in prime position for a top 16 seed — and a chance to host in the first two rounds — in the NCAA tournament.
NCAA Women's Basketball Overall Attendance LeadersTop attendance figures in women's basketball as of games on Feb. 24. AllSportsTucson.com chart.
Up to this point, Arizona has taken care of business against opponents it should beat. The Wildcats, ranked No. 23 in the latest RPI (separate from the NCAA selection committee rankings), are 16-0 against opponents in the Quadrants 2-4 (teams ranked from No. 51 and lower in the RPI). Utah is at No. 110 with an 0-8 record against top 50 RPI teams.
Arizona is 5-4 against top 50 RPI teams.
The Wildcats are also aiming to finish in the top four of the conference standings to avoid having to play the first day of the Pac-12 tournament in three weeks at Las Vegas. They are fourth behind Oregon (13-1), Stanford (12-2) and UCLA (11-3). ASU is two games behind Arizona at 8-6.
Finishing second or third would also mean not playing the Ducks until the championship game.
Good afternoon from SLC pic.twitter.com/lwhkzF7F36
All conference and NCAA tournament ranking data aside, Barnes undoubtedly is telling her team to just take care of business and the seeding of the Pac-12 tournament and NCAA tournament will fall into place.
After playing Utah, the Wildcats play at Colorado on Sunday before hosting No. 4 Stanford and Cal next week to end the regular season.
— The Wildcats are off to their best start in program history through 25 games. The 1996-97 and 1999-2000 teams started 20-5. The 1997-98 team that reached No. 7 in the AP Top 25 with Barnes as a senior started 19-6. The 2002-03 team also started 19-6.
— Arizona hasn’t won 21 regular-season games since the 2003-04 season, when the Wildcats finished 22-7 before winning two games in the Pac-10 tournament and losing to Stanford in the conference tournament and then to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament to finish 24-9. Arizona’s record for regular-season wins is 24 achieved when the 1999-2000 team finished 25-7. The 25 wins that season is the most in school history.
— Arizona’s only losses have been to teams who were ranked in the top 10 at the time. The Wildcats are 27-4 in their last 31 games.
— Arizona has won 10 conference games for the first time since 2011 when the Wildcats finished 10-8. Their best conference record is 14-4 achieved in 1997-98 and 2003-04 .
— Arizona is ninth the country in scoring defense (53.9 points allowed a game) and first the Pac-12. The Wildcats have held all of their Pac-12 opponents under their scoring average. Utah averages 68.6 points a game.
Good afternoon from SLC pic.twitter.com/lwhkzF7F36
— Arizona has been ranked in the AP poll for 13 straight weeks for the first time since the 1999-00 season. No. 11 is Arizona’s highest ranking since the 1997-98, when the Wildcats reached No. 7 three times.
— Barnes was named to the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Watch List on Wednesday. Her career record at Arizona is 63-57 in four years, including a 43-17 mark the last two seasons.
— Aari McDonald was named to the Wade Award Watch List on Wednesday. McDonald has scored in double-figures in 62 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation. She is eighth on the Arizona career scoring list. She is eighth in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (20.5 points a game). McDonald also leads the Pac-12 in steals per game (2.6).
Arizona Career Scoring LeadersList of the top scorers in Arizona history. Note: Aari McDonald played one year at Washington before transferring to Arizona. Her overall career scoring total is 1,793.
|No. Player||Years||GP||FGM (3FG)||FTM||Pts|
|1. Adia Barnes||1995-98||121||881 (3)||472||2,237|
|2. Davellyn Whyte||2009-13||126||668 (274)||449||2,059|
|3. Dee-Dee Wheeler||2002-05||124||762 (186)||256||1,966|
|4. Ify Ibekwe||2008-11||116||628 (35)||362||1,653|
|5. Elizabeth Pickney||1999-02||121||570 (8)||472||1,620|
|6. Aari McDonald||2018-20||66||507 (103)||335||1,486|
|7. Shawntinice Polk||2003-05||94||604 (0)||259||1,467|
|8. Ashley Whisonant||2005-08||122||537(50)||327||1,451|
|9. Timi Brown||1987-91||114||531 (16)||237||1,315|
|10. Dana Patterson||1985-88||112||541 (0)||221||1,299|
— Sam Thomas became the only player in Arizona history to have six blocks and four steals in one game last Friday against Washington. The junior is third in the Pac-12 in blocks per game (1.5) and fourth in steals per game (1.8). Thomas is the only player in school history to have 100 career made threes and blocks. She is also fifth in Arizona history in career blocked shots (124). Thomas is second in the Pac-12 in career blocks among active players. She is one of two current Pac-12 players with 100 career 3-pointers and blocks (Stephanie Watts of USC is the other).
Arizona Career Blocked Shot LeadersA list of the top career shot blockers in Arizona history:
— Cate Reese was named to the Katrina McClain Award Watch List last week. Reese has seven double-doubles this season, matching her total from last season. She is fifth in the Pac-12 in field goal (50.2 percent) and free throw percentage (80.0).
Arizona Career Double-Double Leaders
— Dominique McBryde set season-highs in points (19), rebounds (eight) and blocks (four) at Oregon State two weeks ago. Arizona is 16-1 when McBryde is in the starting lineup with the only loss coming at Oregon.
With team success comes individual accolades.
And shoutout to @AariMcdonald on being named to the Wade Trophy Watch List!
— Arizona has a 2-9 record at Utah.
— As part of Utah’s “Black Out” promotion tonight, fans wearing black shirts will be admitted free.
— Utah has made 207 shots from 3-point range this season, ranking third in the Pac-12 and No. 21 in the NCAA. By contrast, Arizona has made 171.
— Utah set a school record for 3-pointers made in a season in 2018-19 with 239.
— Utah’s underclassmen have scored 1,248 of Utah’s 1,715 points this season (73 percent). Utah’s top two scorers are both underclassmen — freshmen Brynna Maxwell (12.8 points a game) and Lola Pendande (11.0).
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
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.