TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Top-ranked Arizona opens with a difficult matchup on Saturday afternoon when it hosts No. 23 Western Kentucky in the first ever meeting between the schools.
Arizona (0-0) returns all five players from a team that went 24-10 and lost to Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 a year ago. Point guard Jason Gardner leads the returnees as he averaged 20.4 points and 4.6 assists last year as a junior.
The Wildcats also have a pair of seniors at forward in Luke Walton and Rick Anderson. Walton averages 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds and Anderson checks in at 12.4 and 7.2. Coach Lute Olson also attracted a pair of top freshmen to campus in 6-6 forward Andre Iguodala and 6-4 guard Hassan Adams.
Arizona went 10-7 against ranked opponents last season. Olson is 43-7 in November in his 19 years in Tucson.
Western Kentucky (0-0) went 28-3 a year ago and returns 7-1 All-American center Chris Marcus. However, Marcus is out with foot problems and is not available.
The Hilltoppers went 15-2 without Marcus last season and will count on players such as David Boyden and Patrick Sparks to step up. Boyden averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds while Sparks was named the Sun Belt Conference's Freshman of the Year.
Western Kentucky lost to a team from the Pac-10 Conference to end its season in the NCAA Tournament with a defeat to Stanford.