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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Basketball Notes: Arizona moves up No. 9

    Just in time to face their first ranked opponent of the season, the Wildcats moved up one spot to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll after beating Houston Sunday.

    Although Arizona has faced the likes of Virginia, Nevada-Las Vegas, Illinois, Louisville, and San Diego State early in the season, No. 18 Memphis will be the first top-25 team on Arizona’s schedule.

    “”I told my team if (guard Mustafa) Shakur doesn’t get in foul trouble against Virginia, they’re probably No. 2 in the country right now,”” Memphis head coach John Calipari said.

    The Wildcats carry the nation’s No. 1 strength of schedule so far this season, but not facing a ranked team early is quite unusual. The last time Arizona faced a ranked team this late in the season was 1992-93 when they didn’t play a ranked team until Jan. 7.

    Memphis, who has the No. 62 strength of schedule, has faced its share of tough opponents this year, a list that includes Oklahoma, Georgia Tech and Kentucky.

    Calipari’s second time in Tucson

    Calipari has previously coached in the NBA for two years with the New Jersey Nets and coached eight years at Massachusetts. When Calipari arrived in Tucson on Monday, he pondered whether he had ever been to the Southwest town.

    The answer was yes. As an assistant coach at Pittsburgh in 1987, Calipari traveled to Tucson when the Panthers faced Marist and Oklahoma. But Calipari, an accomplished yet still fairly young head coach (47 years old), has never matched up against UA head coach Lute Olson.

    Calipari’s squad was greeted at the Tucson airport with the pomp and circumstance of the Fiesta Bowl Committee, which traditionally greets opposing teams with a Mariachi band.

    “”When I came off the plane, I asked Coach, ‘Do they do this all the time?,'”” Memphis guard Jeremy Hunt said. “”Coach was like, ‘Wow.’ People greeting us, just being really nice.””

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