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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

W-hoops eyes conference play

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats Womens Basketball victory against North Texas on Monday, November 28, 2011 at McKale Center in Tucson Arizona

Entering the season, expectations were low outside of the Arizona locker room, as Pac-12 coaches picked the women’s basketball team to finish ninth in the Pac-12.

Now, more than one month later, optimism is sky-high for the Wildcats. Arizona has busted out of the gate to a 7-1 record, highlighted by an upset victory over the then-No. 28-ranked Syracuse Orange. Arizona will need that momentum as it heads into conference play.

“I think all games are prep for getting into conference play, even our exhibition games, because you learn a lot about yourself,” head coach Niya Butts said at the beginning of the season. “You learn good things and bad things. I think all games prepare us for what’s in store.”

While they haven’t actually faced any Pac-12 opponents yet — ASU will be the first, on New Year’s Eve in Tempe, Ariz. — the Wildcats so far rank as one of the better conference teams, statistically and in terms of wins and losses.

Entering winter break, Arizona is ranked in the top half of the Pac-12 in numerous key statistical categories. The Wildcats are third in scoring offense, second in free throw percentage, fourth in offensive rebounds, second in 3-pointers and first in 3-point shooting percentage.

Individually, Davellyn Whyte (19.4 points per game) and Candice Warthen (16.8) rank third and sixth, respectively, in scoring. Erica Barnes, with 9.0 rebounds per game, ranks seventh in the conference. Shanita Arnold is third in the Pac-12 with 4.75 assists per game and is followed immediately by Whyte with 4.63.

After ASU, which was projected to finish fifth in the conference in pre-season coaches polls, the Wildcats will host UCLA on Jan. 5 and USC on Jan. 7.

“We anticipate all of them being good and that’s our approach,” Butts said. “We want to approach every opponent like they’re one of the best in the country.”

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