Aari McDonald‘s availability for No. 11 Arizona won’t likely be known until pregame warmups today before the Wildcats play at Colorado at noon.
Arizona’s resolve and resourcefulness is already known after the Wildcats took care of Utah 85-69 despite McDonald sitting on the bench at Salt Lake City on Friday.
The word from Arizona on Friday, when McDonald sat with a boot on her left foot, was that she did not play because of “precautionary” reasons. Adia Barnes said on the postgame radio show that she was “confident” McDonald would return against Colorado.
“We’ll have Aari back, probably,” she said. “I’m going to decide on that later. I’m confident in that.”
Without McDonald, Arizona handled Utah and improved to 17-0 against teams with RPIs of No. 51 or lower (Quadrants 2-4) behind a career-high 31 points scored by Sam Thomas and a season-high 14 by senior Lucia Alonso.
The Wildcats are 5-4 against top 50 RPI teams.
Colorado (15-11, 4-11 Pac-12) is rated at No. 89. The Buffaloes are 0-8 against top 50 RPI opponents. Arizona (22-4, 11-4) is at No. 22 in the RPI.
A victory today for Arizona would assure a top four finish in the Pac-12 and a bye past the first round of the conference tournament at Las Vegas in less than two weeks.
Arizona also goes for its second road sweep of the season and its fifth straight win. Today’s game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network and broadcast on radio at KTUC 1400-AM.
The Wildcats, who have won nine of their last 10 games, have started 22-4 for the first time in school history. Arizona has not won 22 regular-season games since the 2003-04 season. The program’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 28-4 in their last 32 games. Arizona has won 11 conference games for the first time since 2005. Their best conference record is 14-4 achieved in 1997-98 and 2003-04.
— The Wildcats have shot at least 50 percent from 3-point range in each of their last three games.
— Arizona is No. 12 the country in scoring defense (54.5 points allowed per game) and first in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have held all of their Pac-12 opponents, except for Utah under their scoring average.
— 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 season, Barnes’ senior year. None of the teams ranked above the Wildcats have lost this week.[table “57” not found /]
— McDonald was named to the Wade Award Watch List on Wednesday. She has scored in double figures in 62 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation. McDonald is eighth on the Arizona career scoring list. She is eighth in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (20.5 points per game). McDonald also leads the Pac-12 in steals per game (2.6).
Arizona Career Blocked Shot Leaders
— Sam Thomas was 13-of-13 from the line on Friday against Utah. Her free throw shooting is a school record for most made while shooting 100 percent, topping the 12-of-12 marks by Barnes in 1997-98 and Kirsten Smith in 1983-84. Thomas became the only player in Arizona history to have six blocks and four steals in one game last week against Washington. The junior is third in the Pac-12 in blocks per game (1.4) 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 fifth in Arizona career blocked shots (126) and sixth in made threes (125). Thomas is second in the Pac-12 in career blocks among active players.
— 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 and free throw percentage.
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 17-1 when McBryde is in the starting lineup with the only loss coming at Oregon.
— The Buffaloes close out their home schedule today with Senior Day. Colorado looks to break a three-game skid against the Wildcats. The Buffaloes own a 10-2 record against Arizona in Boulder.
— Colorado has passed its win total from last season (12) and Pac-12 (two). With 15 wins this season, the Buffaloes have secured an above .500 regular season finish.
— Junior Mya Holllingshed (13.7 points per game), sophomore Emma Clarke (10.7) and freshman Jaylyn Sherrod (10.1) lead the team in scoring.
— Colorado lost its second consecutive game in the final stretch of the fourth quarter on Friday. Colorado had a six-point lead in the final quarter, but could not hold off No. 21 Arizona State, falling 65-59.
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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.