No. 12 Arizona, 7-0 for the fourth-straight year and ranked fourth nationally in scoring, averaging 88.1 points per game, hosts Kansas of the Big 12 at McKale Center on Thursday night at 6.
The Jayhawks are also 7-0. It is the only game in NCAA Division I women’s basketball this week that features two unbeaten teams.
Kansas is 7-0 for the second time under head coach Brandon Schneider and the first time since the 2019-20 season, when the Jayhawks started 11-0. The Jayhawks are currently receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll, placing them at No. 26.
Be there 15 minutes prior please! Big things going down in McKale tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. 🐻🔽 https://t.co/JV8D0WkmIv
— ADIA BARNES COPPA 🐻⬇️🌵👨👨👧👦❤️💙 (@AdiaBarnes) December 8, 2022
Schneider is in his eighth season at Lawrence, Kan., and his record is 89-125. He is 490-263 overall including 12 years at Emporia State and five at Stephen F. Austin.
Adia Barnes, 117-74 in her seventh season at her alma mater and overall, has her team sixth in scoring margin at 30.9 points.
Barnes’ teams in the past have been mostly known for their defense but the offensive execution this season has been impressive.
The Wildcats are shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range this season, ranking ninth in the nation.
As is customary, Arizona’s defense is setting up the offensive execution. The Wildcats rank fifth in steals per game (14.0).
The team’s 20 steals at New Mexico on Sunday in a 77-60 win were a season-high. The Wildcats forced 26 turnovers. All seven of Arizona’s opponents this season have committed at least 20 turnovers.
Arizona also had 20 assists against the Lobos, the second time the Wildcats have achieved at least that mark.
All the starters had at least eight points against the Lobos.
Jade Loville, who finished with a season-high 27 points, set a school record in single-game 3-point percentage at .857 against New Mexico. She made six in the game, tying for the eighth-most 3-pointers in a single game in program history. She was 8 of 11 from the field overall.
Team captain Helena Pueyo had a career-high nine assists against the Lobos. She also had six steals and five rebounds. She is one of five Pac-12 players with at least a nine-assist game this season. She ranks 43rd nationally in steals, averaging 2.7 per game.
Shaina Pellington scored 19 points at New Mexico, 15 of them at halftime to help the Wildcats take the lead at that point.
Lauren Fields stole the ball a season-high five times against New Mexico. She added nine points, four assists and three rebounds. Fields, a former Oklahoma State standout, averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds in two games against Kansas last season.
Esmery Martinez tied her career and season high in assists with four and additionally tied her career high in steals with five against New Mexico. Martinez, who also faced Kansas while playing in the Big 12 at West Virginia last year, averaged 8.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two meetings with the Jayhawks.
The key for the Wildcats is starting strong and finishing that way. Arizona has led at halftime in each game this season.
A LOOK AT KANSAS
Scheider is 3-1 against Arizona, 1-1 during his time at Kansas. Arizona beat the Jayhawks 67-52 at home in the 2015-16 season and then lost 75-51 at Kansas the following season in Barnes’ first season.
Stephen F. Austin swept a home-and-home with Arizona when Schneider coached there during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Kansas and Arizona are two of 15 remaining unbeaten programs. The Jayhawks are the lone team from the Big 12 with an unblemished record.
They have held three of their last opponents to fewer than 50 points and are allowing just 53.3 points per game for the year, ranking second in the Big 12.
Kansas is also limiting its opponents to 33.0 percent field goal shooting this year, which leads the Big 12 and ranks 10th nationally.
Taiyanna Jackson has scored at least 10 points in every game this season and she’s coming off a 17-point performance against Southeast Missouri State. Jackson has recorded a league-leading four doubledoubles this season and she leads the Jayhawks in scoring (16.1), rebounding (9.6), blocked shots (18) and field goal percentage (69.2).
Holly Kersgieter is 21st on Kansas’ career scoring list, surpassing Suzi Raymant, who scored 1,194 points as a Jayhawk from 1995-2000. Kersgieter has an even 1,200 points for her career heading into Thursday’s
After becoming the 31st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone last month, Zakiyah Franklin has climbed to No. 28 on the school’s career scoring list with 1,062 points. Franklin is third on the team with 12.9 points per game for the year.
Former Eastern Arizona College standout 6-4 center Nadira Eltayeb will return to Tucson after playing against Pima College here in 2020-21. Eltayeb, from Tacoma, Wash., was not highly recruited until the 2021 NJCAA national tournament in which she produced double-doubles.
She has played in all of Kansas’ games and is averaging 1.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
Kansas will be seeking its first win over a ranked non-conference opponent since Dec. 7, 2014 — a 62-39 win over No. 10 California.
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.