Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 18 Arizona Wildcats Open Arduous Pac-12 Schedule Today at ASU

No. 18 Arizona, 11-0 for first time in program history, begins its real season today — the Pac-12 schedule — with a noon tip-off against arch-rival ASU at Tempe.

Arizona is one of five Pac-12 teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll and ASU is in the “others receiving votes” category. The conference is listed with the top RPI in the country, ahead of the Big Ten. Arizona has an RPI rating of No. 59 while ASU is at No. 55.

The game will be televised by Pac-12 Network with former Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini providing commentary along with broadcaster Cindy Brunson.

It will be a “Gold Out” for ASU with fans expected to wear gold shirts in the game at Desert Financial Arena. The Sun Devils (10-2) are on a six-game winning streak.

Dating to last season — when the Wildcats won six consecutive games to claim the WNIT championship — Arizona has won 17 straight games (the longest active streak in the nation).

Arizona leads the country in field goal percentage defense (29.0 percent) and scoring defense (43.6 points a game). The Wildcats are in the top 10 in the nation in both field goal percentage (47.9 percent) and field goal percentage defense (29.0 percent).

Arizona’s scoring margin of 30.2 is the fourth-highest in the nation. The Wildcats haven’t allowed 50 points in a game since Nov. 17 and haven’t allowed 60 points in a game all season.

Aari McDonald, a junior, is 18th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (19.9 points per game). She has scored in double-figures in 48-straight games, her entire Arizona career.

Sam Thomas, a junior, 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 threes and blocks (the other is USC’s Stephanie Watts).

Cate Reese, a sophomore, is an All-Pac-12 candidate averaging 14.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

In the first 12 games, ASU has already had seven different players who have led or tied for the team-high in scoring. During its current six-game winning streak, they have seven players averaging between 6.3 and 10.7 points per game. That does not include senior post Jamie Ruden, who scored 11 points in ASU’s most recent win against Creighton, her first game back after missing nine games due to injury.

The Sun Devils have been especially effective both on the defensive end – 18th in the nation in scoring defense – and at controlling the boards – third in the nation in offensive rebounds and fourth in the nation in rebounding margin.

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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