Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats aiming to beat a No. 1-ranked team for first time

An unofficial count from research of available newspaper reports and Arizona media guides indicates the Wildcats’ athletic department has hosted a top-ranked team in a variety of sports a total of 51 times.

Arizona’s record in those meetings in Tucson: 19-31-1.

Adia Barnes’ program will attempt to topple its first top-ranked opponent home or away Friday when the sixth-ranked Wildcats (7-0, 5-0 Pac-12) host Stanford (7-0, 4-0). The tip is at 5 p.m. Tucson time. The Pac-12 Network will televise it live and Derrick Palmer will call the game on KTUC (1400-AM).

The Wildcats are 0-3 in Tucson and 0-2 away from McKale against top-ranked opponents:

Arizona Against No. 1-ranked Opponents

Arizona is 0-6 against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation. Here are the results:
1/2/1995at TennesseeL/109-57
11/18/2006at MarylandL/75-61
1/1/2021Stanford L/81-54

This is how Arizona’s athletic department has fared against No. 1 opponents in Tucson via research by

History of No. 1 teams in Tucson

Results of when top-ranked teams played in Tucson. Research performed by through media reports and information provided by the Arizona media relations department.
Baseball3/7-9/1997UCLAW/Series (2-1)
Baseball3/2-4/1990USCW/Series (2-1)
Baseball4/23-24/1965ASUW/Series (3-0)
Women's golf2/24/1999DukeW/854-869
Men's hoops12/17/1953LaSalleL/87-68
Women's hoops1/15/1983USCL/80-68
Women's hoops12/7/1993TennesseeL/65-63
Women's hoops11/19/1998PurdueL/65-58
Women's hoops1/1/2021StanfordTBD
Softball 5/5/1991UCLAL/Series (0-2)
Softball5/9/1992UCLAT/Series (1-1)
Softball4/4/1993UCLAT/Series (1-1)
Softball5/7/1999UCLAT/Series (1-1)
Softball4/6/2002UCLAT/Series (1-1)
Softball5/8-10/2014OregonL/Series (1-2)
Softball5/7-9/2015OregonL/Series (1-2)
Softball3/2/2017Florida StateL/1-0
Softball3/8-10/2019Florida StateL/Series (1-2)

Barnes and her staff have built Arizona to a point in the last two seasons to indicate the Wildcats can handle the challenge of playing against a No. 1-ranked team. Will the Wildcats get over the 0-fer hump against No. 1-ranked teams against a Tara VanDerveer-coached team? Can they beat Stanford again after upsetting the No. 4 Cardinal in overtime at McKale in February?

VanDerveer became the winningest coach in women’s basketball history last week, passing Pat Summitt with her 1,099th win. She now has 1,101 career victories.

The late Summitt was responsible for two of Arizona’s losses against No. 1 teams — on Dec. 7, 1993, when the Vols narrowly won 65-63 at McKale and on Jan 2, 1995, when they routed the Wildcats 109-57 at Knoxville, Tenn.

The Wildcats have been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 22 straight weeks, the longest stretch in school history. They have won their first five Pac-12 games for the first time in school history.

Arizona has also won three of its last four games against top 10 opponents and five of its last seven against top 25 competition.

The matchup with the Cardinal is a golden opportunity for Aari McDonald to make a strong claim for national player of the year.

McDonald has scored in double figures in 73 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation. The mark encompasses her entire Arizona career since the 2018-19 season.

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She is the NCAA’s career scoring leader among active players and is fifth in Arizona history. She needs 27 points to pass Ify Ibekwe for fourth in career scoring in Arizona history.

Fellow senior Sam Thomas is fifth in Arizona history in career blocked shots (146) and sixth in made threes (138). She needs two more blocks to move into fourth place in Arizona history.

Thomas is the career leader in blocks among all active Pac-12 players. No other Pac-12 player has 100 blocks.

Stanford’s Haley Jones, a 6-foot-1 guard who was the No. 1 recruit in the high school Class of 2019, played in 18 games for the Cardinal as a freshman before suffering an injury that ended her season. She is back at full strength and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week following a weekend in which she combined for 54 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and two steals on 81 percent shooting from the field at UNLV and against Washington.

Jones is averaging a team-best 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. She also leads the Cardinal with 29 assists to go with only nine turnovers.

Senior guard Kiana Williams will be matched up often against McDonald.

Williams led the Cardinal in minutes played, points, assists and made 3-pointers as a junior and was named honorable mention All-America by the WBCA, Associated Press and USBWA.

She joined the 1,000-point club last season in a win over No. 23 Tennessee and currently ranks 18th in program history with 1,457 career points.

Williams has scored in double figures in five of Stanford’s seven games and was two shy of her career-high, scoring 27 points at USC, while tying
her personal best with seven made 3-pointers. Her 245 made 3-pointers rank fourth in program history.

Barnes is hoping Arizona gets off to a strong start. The Wildcats have won 31 straight games when leading by at least 10 points at some point during the game. They have won three games when trailing by double-digits in the second half this season (against UCLA, USC and Colorado) but that might be too high of a mountain to climb against Stanford.

The Cardinal owns a 69-14 lead in their series with the Wildcats. They have won 33 of their last 35 in the series. The last two meetings between the two have been decided by a combined three points. Prior to that, the Cardinal had won seven straight by at least 15.

If Arizona wins, it would be the first time the Wildcats won consecutive games against Stanford dating to 2001.

Stanford is near the top of the nation in several statistical categories, including No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.85), No. 3 in scoring margin (38.3), No. 4 in assists per game (21.7), No. 6 in rebound margin (+16.6) and field goal percentage defense (30.3), No. 7 in assists (152), No. 8 in rebounds per game (48.86) and scoring defense (50.3) and No. 9 in scoring offense (88.6).

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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.

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