The Wildcats look to stay hot, as they take their talents to the state of Texas, where they'll clash with Stephen F. Austin, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. MST inside William R. Johnson Coliseum in search of their fifth win in a row.
INSIDE THE SERIES...
Overall Record........................... 1-2
Home Record............................ 1-1
Away Record............................ 0-1
Neutral Site Record.................. 0-0
Longest Win Streak........... 1 Game
Longest Losing Streak...... 2 Games
Current Streak...................... Lost 2
Record in Last 10 Meetings.... N/A
................ Dec. 10, 1998 (W 90-76)
................ Nov. 20, 2013 (L, 60-56)
Sunday's meeting will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs and the second over the last two seasons, as Arizona dropped a close 60-56 affair last year at McKale Center...five current Wildcats played in last year's game vs. SFA, including LaBrittney Jones, who nearly notched a double-double, scoring seven points and grabbing a seven rebounds...UA owns the lone double-digit win in the all-time series, claiming a 90-76 victory back on Dec. 10, 1998.
12/10/98 W at UA 90, SFA 76
12/16/01 L at SFA 68, UA 66
11/20/13 L SFA 60, at UA 56
Stephen F. Austin enters this one at 5-4 overall and winners of two of its last three contests, with its lone loss coming at No. 9 Baylor...the Ladyjacks are led by sophomore guard Taylor Ross, who averages a team-best 17.2 points per contest, while shooting nearly 53 percent from the field...senior center Porsha Roberts nearly averages a double-double per contest, as she pours in 16.4 points and pulls down nine rebounds per game...SFA averages 70.6 points per game, while it surrenders 68.4 points per contest...the Ladyjacks are the defending Southland Conference champions and were picked to win the league once again this year, according to the league's preseason poll.
The Wildcats sported two players in double figures and forced the Blazers into a season-high tying 21 turnovers, as Arizona defeated UAB, 49-44, last Sunday afternoon at McKale Center, clinching UA's fourth straight victory.
For Arizona (6-3), the win marks its sixth victory in its last seven contests and its fourth straight home win, as the Cats improved to 4-1 at McKale Center this season.
Senior guard Candice Warthen led the team in scoring for the fifth time this season, as she put in 12 points and dished out a team-high equaling three assists in the win. She's led the team in assists in four straight games and in seven of nine games overall this season.
Sophomore guard Malena Washington also poured in 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, recording her third double-digit scoring game of the season, and the second in her last three contests.
Sophomore forward LaBrittney Jones led the rebounding effort for Arizona, pulling down a team-high five boards, while contributing six points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field. Freshman guard Charise Holloway also produced off a solid game off the bench, recording six points and grabbing four rebounds.
The Wildcats scored 12 points of off 21 forced turnovers, while they won the battle of the benches for the fifth time this season, outscoring the UAB reserves 16-13.
The Wildcats put together a mini 6-0 run in the final minutes of the half to cap-off an overall 18-4 scoring run over the final 12 minutes of the half to take a commanding 27-14 advantage into intermission.
The Cats scored eight points off of 12 forced first half turnovers, while the bench scored 11 of Arizona's total 27 first half points.
Arizona kept things rolling in the second half, never trailing the rest of the contest, while at one point extending its lead to as high as 15 points before winning by by the final five-point margin.
Arizona has won a season-high four games in a row and six of its last seven games overall. Both streaks are the longest since the 2012-13 campaign. Arizona hasn't won seven of eight contests or five in a row since the 2011-12 season
Arizona ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing just 55.9 points per game. That mark ranks 45th nationally... Cats have held opponents to 45 points or less in back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011 vs. Long Beach State (W, 66-42) and Dec. 18, 2011 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (W, 67-37)...Arizona has held opponents to just 14 points in a half twice this season (1st half vs. UCSB on 11/25 and 1st half vs. UAB on Dec. 14).
Arizona's three-point defense (.221) is second best in the conference and ranks seventh nationally.
Sophomore guard Malena Washington has started four consecutive games at the point guard position...Arizona is 4-0 on the season when she starts...Washington has scored in double figures in two of those four starts.
Arizona has used the same starting lineup of Washington, Warthen, Cannon, Jones, and Gloyd in four straight games...Arizona is 4-0 in those contests.
Cats have recorded more offensive rebounds than the opponent in six of nine contests...Candice Warthen has been the team's leading scorer in five of nine games this year...Warthen has also led the team in assists in seven of nine games and in four straight contests...UA has scored 60 points or more in five of its last seven games...Arizona has won the battle of the benches in five of its last seven games.
Arizona's bench has outscored its opponents reserves in five of its last seven games...the Cats have boasted four double-digit scorers off the bench, while Arizona's leading scorer has come off the bench in two of the last five contests.
Arizona is 6-1 this season when leading with five minutes remaining in a contest...the Cats are 5-1 this year when leading with 10 minutes left in a game.
Obviously last year didn't quite go the way Arizona would have liked it to, but 2014-15 marks a new season and the Cats already have six wins just nine games in...Arizona had just three non-conference wins last year and five total for the season.
Arizona has lost two games by a combined seven points this season. If those losses were wins, the Cats would be 8-1 and sitting just a half game back of Oregon State for first place in the conference...the 8-1 start would be the best nine-game start to a season in three years. Arizona has a +5.0 scoring margin overall on the season...just sayin'.
The Cats are 3-0 when scoring in the 60s this season.
The Cats have won four straight contests at McKale Center. Arizona's average margin of victory has been 14.3 points over its last four home contests, while they have trailed by no more than three points at any time during that span.
Arizona has won two straight road affairs on the year. The Cats haven't won three in a row on the road since 2012-13.
It's been a very merry holiday season thus far for the Cats, as they're a perfect 4-0 in December so far. Saturday's game vs. SFA will mark the first time Arizona will be playing on a Saturday this year, while its picked up victories on every other day of the week except Monday.
Arizona will play four opponents for the first time in school history this season in FIU, Grambling State, Southern and Tennessee Martin. The Cats are 3-0 so far against first-time opponents so far this year (FIU Grambling State, and Southern).
Sophomore forward LaBrittney Jones is averaging 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, with both ranking second best on the squad. She has recorded a team-leading two double-doubles this season, while she's scored in double figures in three of her last five games.
Despite being listed at just 5-foot-5, Candice Warthen ranks 13th in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounds, averaging 5.0 per game. She leads Arizona in defenisve rebounding and ranks second on the team in overall rebounding, pulling down 5.0 boards per game.
Candice Warthen has done it all for Arizona in the early going, as she leads the team in scoring (12.2 ppg), free throws made (3.6 fpg), field goals made (3.9 fpg), assists (3.4 apg) and minutes played (34.2 mpg). The senior has led the Cats in scoring in five of nine games this season, including scoring a single-game high for any Wildcat this season, 21 points on Dec. 7 at Wake Forest.
Candice Warthen and LaBrittney Jones have combined to score 34 percent of UA's total points this season (186/548).
Arizona's 72-69 overtime victory on Dec. 7 at Wake Forest marked the Wildcats' first overtime win since winning at Wichita State ,81-72 in overtime on Nov. 12, 2010....Cats had dropped six consecutive overtime contests before Sunday's win.
Keyahndra Cannon and Malena Washington were both named to the All-FIU Thanksgiving Tournament team thanks to their performances in Arizona's two games vs. FIU (Nov. 28) and Toledo (Nov. 30) earlier in the year.
Arizona held UC Santa Barbara to just 11 field goals made on Nov. 25, equaling the school record for the least amount of field goals any Arizona opponent has ever converted on...Arizona's 61-34 victory over UC Santa Barbara marked Arizona's first win on the season...the Cats opened 0-2 last season and also earned their first win over the Gauchos...the 34 points allowed marked the least amount of points Arizona had surrendered since giving up just 32 points to Iona on Dec. 28, 2010...UA held UCSB to just 22.9 percent shooting from the field, marking the lowest opponent field goal percentage since Arizona held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 21.2 percent on Dec. 18, 2011....it was also the lowest field goal percentage Arizona had held an opponent to at home since holding Iona to just 20 percent shooting on Dec. 28, 2010. ...the 27-point victory marked Arizona's largest margin of victory over any opponent since defeating Oregon 100-68 on Jan. 13, 2013.
Arizona set a new single-game attendance record on Nov. 25 vs. UC Santa Barbara, as McKale Center entertained a crowd of 6,268 . The mark broke the school's previous single-game attendance record of 5,272 on March 4, 2000 vs. Oregon.
Seventh-year head coach Niya Butts and the Wildcats return three starters and seven letterwinners overall from last year's squad, including leading scorer Candice Warthen (11.1 ppg). Senior Alli Gloyd (9.4 pts, 6 rebs in 2012-13) and redshirt freshman Dejza James also return after tearing ACLs last year. Arizona also boasts the highest ranked recruiting class in program history coming into the new season.
Nine players saw game action in Arizona's season opener vs. Bakersfield, which was the most in 20 straight contests going back to last season's Dec. 21 contest vs. UC Riverside.
Arizona was picked to finish 12th in the conference in both the preseason media and coaches' polls. The Cats received 12 overall points in the media poll to finish just behind Colorado, who received 42 points. UA tallied 12 points in the coaches' poll, while Utah claimed 28 votes, as it was placed 11th.
Stanford (116, 7 first place), California (111, 3 first place), and Oregon State (105, 2 first place) rounded out the coaches' picks for the conference's top three finishers, while the media picked California (194, 9 first place) to take home the league crown, followed by Stanford (190, 7 first place) and Oregon State (162, 1 first place).
The 2014-15 slate is once again littered with top-notch competition, as Arizona will play 17 contests against teams who qualified for postseason play a year ago, including seven matches with teams ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' preseason polls in No. 6/6 Stanford, No. 15/14 California, No. 20/21 Oregon State, and No. 23/23 UCLA. Conference foes Oregon, USC, and Arizona State are also receiving votes in either one or both preseason polls. The Cats will clash with those schools a combined five times.
Arizona games will be shown on a television a school-record 14 times this season, all on the Pac-12 Networks.
Arizona returns 53 percent of its total points scored (913/1,736), 48 percent of its rebounds (494/1,020), 54 percent of its field goals made (357/661), 25 percent of its three-pointers made (27/109), 56 percent of its free throws converted (172/305), 41 percent of its assists (140/344), and 53 percent of its steals from a season ago (103/193).
Senior forward Alli Gloyd returns to action after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Gloyd averaged 9.4 points and six rebounds per game during the 2012-13 campaign. If one were to plug in her 2012-13 numbers into last year's overall statistics, she would have led the team in free throw percentage (.739) and overall rebounding (6.0), while her total steals (37) and points per game (9.4) would rank second among all returners. Gloyd scored in double figures 14 separate times during 2012-13.
Candice Warthen returns as the team's leading scorer from a year ago (11.1 ppg). She also led the team in total points (334), field goals made (134), assists per game (3.1), and steals per contest (1.3). Warthen had a solid unofficial 2014-15 debut, going for 12 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the free throw line in Arizona's exhibition contest against Concordia.
LaBrittney Jones' growth as a freshman last season may be one of the most exciting pieces of optimism Arizona takes into the new year, as she led the team in overall rebounding (5.8 rpg), offensive rebounding (1.6 rpg), defensive rebounding (4.2 rpg), blocked shots (1.1 bpg), field goal percentage (.462) and free throws made per contest (1.8), while her 7.4 points per game average is second best among all returners. Her blocked shots per game last year ranked seventh in the Pac-12 and she is one of just two returners to start in all 30 contests last season (Warthen being the other).
Arizona played the final 13 games of last season with seven healthy players or less. The Cats enter 2014-15 with practically double that amount with 13 healthy players.
Arizona welcomes seven new faces to the program in freshmen guards JaLea Bennett, Cherice Harris, Charise Holloway, and Taryn Griffey, who was ranked as the 21st best guard and the 86th overall prospect in the nation according to ESPNW's 2014 HoopGurlz Recruiting rankings. The class is considered one of the best in program history. Transfer guards Malena Washington (Tyler JC), Chy Cunningham (Paris JC) and Lauren Evans (Virginia Tech) also enter their first seasons with the program.
Arizona boasts players from seven different states, as four players are from California, four are from Texas, two are from Arizona, while Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, and Washington are each represented once on the roster.
The Wildcats signed forward A'Shanti Coleman, guard Michal Miller and forward Destiny Graham during the early signing period.
Coleman comes to Arizona regarded as one of the top bigs in the nation as she's been placed as the 108th ranked forward in the country according to "The Jump Off Plus". She was named to the All-State First Team last year after nearly averaging a double-double, scoring 12 points, pulling down seven rebounds, and blocking four shots per game her junior season. She also helped guide Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep to back-to-back league titles, while leading the Irish to the state title game her sophomore year. Sacred Heart recorded an overall mark of 25-7 and a league mark of 11-1 that season. Coleman also was awarded team MVP honors after her sophomore campaign, where she averaged eight points, seven rebounds, and three blocked shots per contest. Coleman plans to major in psychology.
"A'Shanti Coleman is an exceptional athlete and fits well in our system and the way we like to play. She's a transition post player who gets up and down the floor, can finish around the rim and make the 16 to 18 foot jumper. She also has a tremendous presence inside in terms of blocking shots."
Miller comes to Arizona ranked as 35th best guard in the country according to Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. She also brings loads of basketball experience, as she will have started all four seasons for Michigan City High School by the time her senior year concludes. Miller enters her final season at Michigan City as one of the most dangerous all-around players in the state, as she averaged career highs in points (20.4 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg), and steals (4.8 spg) last year, while earning All-America, First-Team Underclass All-State and All-League honors. She was also named the team's most valuable player. During her sophomore campaign, Miller averaged 11.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 3.7 steals per contest on her way toclaiming First Team Underclass All-State and Second Team All-League honors, after guiding the Wolves to a 19-4 overall record.
Miller made an impact on the Michigan City program right away, as she started all 25 contests her freshman year, averaging 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 3.5 steals, and a block per game, helping the Wolves obtain an 18-7 overall record. Miller wants to study music or communications when she gets to Arizona.
"I feel like we were able to get one of the best perimeter players in this class in Michal Miller. She is an extremely versatile guard who can play all three spots on the perimeter. She can slash and get to the basket, has a solid mid-range jump shot and her game beyond the arc is also efficient. She has all the tools to be one of the great players in our league, so we're really excited about that."
Graham comes to Arizona ranked as the No. 28 forward in the country according to Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. She enters her senior season at Eastside College Prep poised for a breakout year, as she set career bests in points scored (14.6 ppg), rebounds (8.6 rpg), and blocks (3.4 bpg), on her way to claiming league MVP honors and a spot on the All-League First Team. Graham averaged a career-best 5.1 steals per contest her sophomore year, while leading the Panthers to the league title and a berth in the state championship game, after going 22-9 overall. She was named the West Bay Foothill League's most improved player and earned Second Team All-League honors.
Graham made an impact right away as a freshman, pulling down 8.3 boards per contest and nearly averaging two blocks a game on the way to being named an All-League Honorable Mention. She's started all three seasons thus far at Eastside. Graham played under head coach Donovan Blythe both at Eastside College Prep and on Blythe's Basketball AAU squad. She plans to major in criminology.
"Destiny Graham is extremely athletic and agile. She brings a bit more size than we have now and her presence is certainly going to be needed. Destiny fits our style of play and has a huge upside. We are looking forward to her joining our family."