Cats Host 'Pack in Pre-Christmas Tilt
Dec. 22, 2009
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009
Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Miles Simon)
GAME DATA: Arizona (5-5, 0-0 Pac-10) plays its final game before Christmas Wednesday against North Carolina State (8-2, 0-1 ACC) in McKale Center ... UA's one-point win Monday was its first nail-biting win of the season and its fourth game in 10 to be decided by four points or less ... The Cats have already played three overtime games this season, including two in McKale Center, and are 2-1 in such contests ... In terms of extra sessions, Arizona's three OT games in 36 calendar days since the season opener are the most in program history to start a season.
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 125-52 (.706) and 5-5 (.500) 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 ... Miller is 0-0 against North Carolina State as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: It was a game that swung on a few treys: Lipscomb's Brian Wright sank one with two seconds to go in regulation to force the extra period five minutes before Arizona's Nic Wise beat the overtime buzzer with the game winner, as the Wildcats prevailed Monday, 83-82. Wise scored 20 of his team-high 26 points after the break and was aided by Lamont Jones, who scored nine of his 12 points in the extra session. UA turned 27 Lipscomb fouls into a +15 scoring advantage from the line, an effort that included 16-of-18 shooting in the final 25 minutes.
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA STATE: The Wolfpack enter tonight's game with an 8-2 record (0-1 ACC) following Sunday's 67-59 loss at Wake Forest. On the season, North Carolina State averages 67.3 points per game, shoots 45.4 percent from the field (244-of-537) and 65.5 percent (135-of-206) from the line. NCSU opponents average 60.5 points per game and are outrebounded by 0.4 boards per game. Individually, three Wolfpack players average in double figures, led by Tracy Smith's 17.6 ppg figure, though NCSU announced Monday that Smith would be suspended for this game. Smith also leads the team in rebounding with a 9.5 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting of the two schools. All-time, Arizona is 18-16 (.529) vs. Atlantic Coast Conference members. The Wildcats have faced at least one ACC opponent in four of the last five seasons. UA lost to Virginia, 75-72, on Nov. 17, 2007, in its last game against an ACC foe. See page 111 in the Arizona basketball media guide for more series information.
WELCOME BACK: Former Arizona All-American Miles Simon makes his first trip to McKale Center as part of the FSN broadcast crew. Now in his second season as a college basketball analyst, Simon is working alongside play-by-play partner Steve Physioc. Few people are as qualified for the position as Simon, who enjoyed a stellar playing career as a collegian - most notably earning Most Outstanding Player honors in leading UA to the 1997 NCAA championship - and professionally before spending three seasons (2005-08) as a Wildcat assistant coach.
NOT SO FAST: Arizona's one-point win Monday gave the ball club a 5-5 record through 10 games, which is the slowest start for the program in 26 seasons. The Wildcats started the 1983-84 season 3-7 for Lute Olson, who was in his first season in Tucson.
ELITE COMPANY: Senior guard Nic Wise not only knocked down the game winner Monday, but also topped the 1,000 career point plateau in the process. His driving layup with 59 seconds to go in regulation enabled him to become the 44th player in school history to accomplish the feat. He finished with 26 points on the night, giving him 1,008 career points, and quickly moved him past Matt Muehlebach (1,006 pts./1987-91) into 43rd place on Arizona career scoring list.
A DISTINCT GROUP: Nic Wise's ascension into the 1,000-point club also enabled Arizona to join a distinct group of programs nationwide. The Wildcats are now one of only 12 Division I programs to have 44 or more 1,000-point scorers. Here is the current list, as provided by Louisville SID Kenny Klein:
1. North Carolina, 62 7. Notre Dame, 48 Louisville, 62 8. ARIZONA, 443. Duke, 56 Cincinnati, 444. Kentucky, 55 Marshall 445. Syracuse, 51 Wake Forest 446. Kansas, 50 West Virginia, 44
MORE IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS: Nic Wise knocked down all 12 free throw attempts Monday to boost his season free throw percentage to a robust 96.0 percent (48-of-50). Entering the week, the 5-foot-10 native of Houston, Texas, led the Pac-10 and ranked sixth nationally in that category. Twice already this season (UNLV), Wise has sunk all 12 charity tosses in a game, and dating back to last season has made 73 of his last 77 (.948) attempts from the line.
INTESTINAL FORTITUDE: Arizona managed to erase a 34-30 halftime deficit and prevail over Lipscomb on Monday. A four-point deficit may not seem exactly steep, but it marked the Wildcats' first win this season when trailing at the half. This year, Arizona is 4-2 when holding a halftime lead and 1-3 when trailing.
ACCEPTING CHARITY: Led by Derrick Williams (14) and Nic Wise (12), who combined for 26 of Arizona's 36 free throw attempts, the Wildcats enjoyed a +21 advantage in charity attempts and a +15 scoring margin over Lipscomb from the line. Arizona equaled a season high with 26 made free throws and connected on 16-of-18 free throw attempts in the second half and overtime. On average, the Cats outscore the opposition by nearly three points per game from the charity stripe.
CHANGE IS GOOD: Arizona connected on 15-of-28 (.536) of its field goal attempts over the last 25 minutes Monday, including 4-of-4 shooting from three-point shooting in the OT, to boost its field goal percentage for the game to 45.3 percent (24-of-53). That wasn't enough to top Lipscomb's 48.4-percent effort, but Arizona did manage to win for the first time in five tries this year when shooting worse than the opposition. Relatedly, Arizona is 3-5 in 2009-10 when shooting less than 50 percent from the floor, but all three of those wins have come at McKale Center.
MISCUES MATTER: Through 10 games, Arizona averages 14.4 turnovers per game, or 1.5 more than the opposition. Monday against Lipscomb, the Wildcats won the turnover battle, 13-19, and improved to 3-1 this season when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent. Arizona converted those 19 Lipscomb miscues into 22 points and held a 22-12 turnover-point advantage in a contest decided by one point.
ROLLIN' IN: Guard Kyle Fogg definitely put his stamp on Monday's win. In addition to assisting on the game-winning bucket, the 6-foot-3 sophomore from Brea, Calif, hit 5-of-7 field goal attempts, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, en route to a career-high 18 points in a season-best 37 minutes played. Both his total field goals and treys made equaled career bests. Notably, he tallied 10 of those points in the opening half at a time when Arizona was searching for points. On the season, Fogg is averaging 7.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while leading the Pac-10 Conference with a .640 (16-of-25) three-point field goal percentage. He does not have enough makes per game to qualify for the national statistical rankings.
COMING ON STRONG: Monday night, Lamont Jones notched his second consecutive game in double figures, as he tallied a season-high 12 points. The 6-foot guard from Harlem, N.Y., scored nine of those points in the extra session to go along with two assists and a steal in the victory. In his last two appearances, Jones is shooting 8-of-15 (.533) from the floor, including 4-of-7 (.571) from behind the arc, while averaging 11.5 points - a figure that is nearly double his 6.1 scoring average for the season.
FROM THE MIDDLE: As witnessed Monday, center Alex Jacobson has a knack for making the most of his opportunities. The 7-foot sophomore from Santa Ana, Calif., played 14 minutes vs. Lipscomb, hitting all three field goal attempts en route to a career-high six points. Jacobson, who has tallied a modest 11 points and three rebounds in his last four appearances, has connected on 5-of-6 field goals (.833) and 3-of-4 (.750) free throws.
FRESHMAN FRONTLINE: Due to Jamelle Horne's right mid-foot sprain, Arizona started an all-freshman frontline for the first time this season. The trio of Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill and Kyryl Natyazhko combined for 21 points, 20 rebounds and two blocked shots, while connecting on 6-of-15 (.400) field goal attempts. Horne's injury forced Coach Miller to use his fourth different lineup combination this season.
PRODUCING IN ALL AREAS: While his scoring average has dropped a bit of late, freshman forward Solomon Hill continues to produce across the board. Monday against Lipscomb, the 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., registered six points, seven rebounds and a career-best five assists in 40 minutes of action. To date, Hill ranks fourth on the team in scoring (8.7 ppg), third in rebounding (5.1 rpg), second in assists (1.7 apg/tied) and field goal percentage (.525/31-of-59).
GROWING ON THE GLASS: Much was made of his scoring ability (two 25-point games in his first six outings), but forward Derrick Williams has proven himself to be an improving rebounder. The 6-foot-8 freshman equaled a season high with nine caroms on Monday and ranks second on the club with a 6.4 rebounds per game. In 10 appearances this season, Williams has grabbed five or more boards seven times, a figure that also ranks second on the team behind Jamelle Horne's nine.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 83 points Dec. 21 vs. Lipscomb, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fourth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 184-19 (.906) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 4-0 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: After a few off days due to the Christmas holiday, the Wildcats return to action in the 25th annual Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic on Monday, Dec. 28, against Brigham Young. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and will be carried live by KGUN-TV locally and FOX College Sports nationally.