Wildcats Host No. 2 UNLV Wednesday
Nov. 30, 2009
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KGUN-TV/FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)
GAME DATA: Arizona (3-2, 0-0 Pac-10) returns home to host 24th-ranked UNLV (5-0, 0-0 MWC) Wednesday in McKale Center ... In two home games, Arizona is limiting opponents to .357 shooting (45-of-126) and 59.5 points, while those figures jump to .438 (81-of-185) and 78.5 points per game elsewhere ... UA had six players score seven or more points against Vanderbilt and has had players score in double figures 16 times in 2009-10 ... The Wildcats have seven games remaining on the schedule before opening Pac-10 play on Dec. 31, and while five of those are home games, those seven foes have a cumulative 28-10 (.737) record to date.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in both polls after opening the season unranked for just the third time in the last 23 seasons. The Cats closed the 2008-09 campaign ranked No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his sixth overall as a college head coach with a record of 123-45 (.713) and 3-2 (.600) at Arizona ... Appointed April 7, 2009, Miller came to Tucson after five successful years at Xavier University, where he amassed four 20-win seasons and four NCAA Tournament appearances ... His clubs won the last three Atlantic 10 regular season championships (2007-09) and the 2006 Atlantic 10 postseason tournament title ... During his time at XU, the Musketeers won better than 71 percent of its conference games, including an .813 winning percentage (39-9) in his last three seasons ... Miller has made 14 trips to the postseason in his 17 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (8 NCAA/6NIT) and has a 6-4 (.600) NCAA Tournament record as a head coach ... He took two Xavier teams to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 (2008, 2009) with his 2008 club advancing to the West Regional final ... His 2007-08 team set a Xavier record for wins in a season with 30, helping him claim Atlantic 10 and NABC District 10 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... Since becoming a head coach, all 16 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... A standout guard for the University of Pittsburgh (1987-92), Miller was the Big East Freshman of the Year in 1988, won a gold medal on the 1991 U.S. World University Games team and was a member of his alma mater's all-centennial team in 2005 ... Miller, 41, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Sean Miller is 0-0 against UNLV as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy scored six of his game-high 20 points in the decisive 12-4 run late in the second half, as the Commodores pulled away for the 84-72 victory Nov.25 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational fifth-place game. VU shot 69 percent from the field in the second half and limited Arizona to just one field goal in the final six minutes. UA's Solomon Hill scored an efficient 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 9-of-9 free throws, while Kyle Fogg added 10.
SCOUTING UNLV: The Runnin' Rebels improved to 5-0 on the season following Saturday's 76-71 win over Louisville. UNLV has been good at both ends of the court in its five victories, scoring an average of 82.6 points per game and shooting 47.4 percent (143-of-302) from the floor while allowing an average of 65.2 points per game and a 37.6 (100-of-266) field goal percentage. The Rebs force an average of 18.4 turnovers and collect 8.0 steals per contest. Individually, the balanced UNLV attack sees 10 players averaging 5.0 points or better, led by Tre'Von Willis' 16.0 ppg average. Chace Stanback's 6.4 rebounds per game mark leads the team.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 17th meeting of the two schools with UNLV holding a 10-6 series advantage. The teams first met Dec. 28, 1972, and since 1988, the schools have split six meetings. After a 16-season hiatus, the Cats and Rebs resumed regular visits and have met in each of the last three years with UNLV claiming a 79-64 win last year in Las Vegas on Dec. 20. All-time, Arizona is 4-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-7 in Flagstaff, and 1-2 in neutral-site games. Please see page 110 of the UA basketball media guide for more information.
LAST MEETING: UNLV 79, Arizona 64, Dec. 20, 2008: UNLV's Wink Adams drained five of his career-high seven three-point field goals in the second half on the way to 25 points in propelling the Rebel offense past the Wildcats. Adams hit three treys during the decisive 15-0 run early in the period to put the game out of reach. Chase Budinger tallied 22 points and Jordan Hill added 16 points and 13 rebounds, but otherwise UA struggled offensively with 19 turnovers and a season-low 39.7 field goal percentage.
AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE: All-time, Arizona is 186-133 (.583) against teams that currently make up in the Mountain West Conference. Over the last six seasons, the Wildcats are 10-1 vs. Mountain West foes, the only loss coming on Dec. 20, 2008, in a 79-64 loss at UNLV. UA defeated Utah, 84-71, on March 20, 2009, in the last meeting against an MWC opponent.
SENIOR LEADER: Nic Wise helped Arizona to fifth-place finish at the Maui Invitational by averaging 17.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games. The senior guard connected on 40.0 percent of his field goals (16-of-40) and 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts (6-of-14), while adding 14-of-15 free throws (.933) and three steals. He opened the week with 13 points, a season-high six rebounds and three assists vs. Wisconsin. He then exploded for a career-high 30 points to go with six assists and four steals in an overtime win over Colorado. In that effort, Wise hit 9-of-15 FGs, including a career-best five treys, and scored 16 of Arizona's last 19 points in the win. All told Wise tallied 22 of his 30 points after halftime and compiled the second-most points in the conference this season (as of last week). He capped the week with nine points, four assists and two steals against No. 24 Vanderbilt. On the year, Wise leads Arizona with a 16.4 points per game average to go with per game averages of 3.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting .468 from the field.
REMEMBER, IT'S A LONG SEASON: Arizona departed Maui with a 3-2 overall record after going 1-2 and finishing in sixth place at the EA Sports Maui Invitational earlier this week. While the Wildcats have been known to get off to quick starts, it's current 3-2 start isn't out of the ordinary for the program. Dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season, this is the third UA squad to start with three wins in its first five games, joining the 2004-05 and 2007-08 clubs. Additionally, Arizona's 2005-06 squad actually had 2-3 mark through five games. In that span, Arizona ball clubs have finished the season with an average end of season record of 22-12.
ANOMALY: Twenty-fourth-ranked Vanderbilt shot 53.4 percent (31-of-58) from the field on Nov. 25, a season high against the Wildcats. It was the first time this season that a UA opponent has out-shot the Cats or posted a field goal percentage of better than 43 percent through the first five games. On the season, UA is limiting opponents to just .405 shooting (126-of-311).
TEN-PLUS YET AGAIN: Guard Kyle Fogg collected his second double-figure scoring game of the season vs. Vanderbilt, as he connected on 4-of-7 field goals (2-of-3 treys) en route to a season-high 10 points. He also grabbed a season-best four rebounds and an assist (zero turnovers) in 22 minutes. For the sophomore from Brea, Calif., it was the 10th double-figure scoring game of his career.
FIRST-YEAR FRONT LINE: Whereas Nic Wise led the Cats in scoring in Maui (17.3 ppg), Arizona's forward combination of Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill definitely held their own against more than respectable competition. The duo combined to average 25.3 points and 12.0 rebounds, while shooting 22-of-38 (.579) from the field. Individually, they ranked second and third on the team in both scoring and rebounding during the tournament, and were the only two Wildcats to shoot better than 50 percent from the field while in Maui.
WORTH ANOTHER LOOK: Junior Jamelle Horne enjoyed a productive visit to Hawaii, as he averaged 10.0 points to go with team-leading totals of 9.0 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots per game. Against Colorado, The 6-foot-7 forward tallied 17 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks. The 5-of-5 three-point shooting effort was a career-best, and the seven blocks were the most for a UA player since Feb. 17, 2005. On the season, Horne is averaging 11.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game and leads the Pac-10 Conference with a 3.0 blocks per game average.
FEEL THE BURN: Sophomore Brendon Lavender put forth a respectable showing last week by averaging 7.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, while shooting .364 (4-of-11) from three-point range. The 6-foot-5 guard from Mesa, Ariz., continues to adjust to life as a major contributor. Through five games, he's logged 143 minutes of action (28.6 mpg), including a career-high 36 Nov. 24 vs. Colorado, and is averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. By comparison, Lavender averaged 0.6 points and 0.2 rebounds in 132 total minutes last season.
FOLLOW YOUR SHOTS: The offensive glass has been a bugaboo for Arizona this season, as the team faces a 65-47 offensive rebound deficit through five games, a -3.6 margin. Against Vanderbilt, UA managed a 14-12 advantage, which marked the second time this season - first since the season opener - that Arizona claimed an offensive rebound advantage. No UA player has more than three offensive rebounds in any game this season. However, the Cats have been good on the defensive end, leading the Pac-10 with its 28.0 defensive rebounds per game average.
SECOND HALF SLUMBER: Three games in three days would wear most teams out, and that may have been the case for the Cats in its Maui Invitational finale. Arizona carried a 41-36 lead in to the locker room at halftime before dropping an 84-72 decision. Prior to that decision, the Wildcats were a spotless 3-0 when leading at the break. Incidentally, in its last two games in Maui, Arizona allowed a combined 101 points and a .552 field goal percentage (37-of-67) after the halftime break.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Kyryl Natyazhko posted what may have been the best game of his brief collegiate career, a nine-point, six-rebound effort in 18 minutes. The 6-foot-10 freshman center hit 2-of-4 field goal and 5-of-8 free throws to go with one assist. On the season, Natyazhko is averaging 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Interestingly, 14 of his 22 points to date have come from the free throw line.
MORE BALL PRESSURE: Defensive pressure on the ball is a key element in any man-to-man defensive attack. Certainly, the Wildcats could use a bit more, as the club managed just three steals against Vanderbilt. Additionally, UA tallied a season-low two blocked shots, which means that for the firs time this season Arizona had fewer combined blocks and steals in a game than the opposition.
TIME TO START ANOTHER: Nic Wise posted a season-low nine points against Vanderbilt, which marked the first time this season he failed to score 10 or more points. It also snapped a streak of 17 consecutive games in double figures for the UA point guard dating back to last season. Wise has also buried at least one trey in 20 of his last 21 starts, and ranks ninth among Pac-10 players with a 2.0 three-point field goals per game average.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored a season-high 91 points Nov. 24 vs. Colorado, breaking the 80-point barrier for the second time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 182-19 (.905) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 2-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
EARLY SIGNEE: The Arizona coaching staff signed one student-athlete to a National-Letter-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Daniel Bejarano (G, 6-5, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., North High School. According to Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Top 250, he is No. 40 overall prospect in the country.
UP NEXT: Arizona hits the road for its first true road game of the season at Oklahoma on Sunday, Dec. 6. The game, part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised by ESPNU.