Cats, Bruins Meet in Pac-10 Quarterfinal
March 8, 2010
Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Time: 12:10 p.m. PST
Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins/Don McLean)
GAME DATA: No. 4 seed Arizona (16-14, 10-8 Pac-10) travels to Los Angeles for the 2010 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament and opens play in the first quarterfinal Thursday afternoon against No. 5 seed UCLA (13-17, 8-10 Pac-10) ... Arizona's 17 wins and four championships (1988-90, 2002) in this event are league bests ... Since the event was reincarnated in the Staples Center in 2002, the Cats are 8-7 in tournament play having dropped the last two ... The number 70 looms large in conference tournament action as Arizona is 8-3 since 2002 when scoring 70 or more points and 0-4 when it does not ... Over the last four seasons, the Cats are averaging 64.8 points in five Pac-10 tournament games ... All time, the Wildcats are 7-5 in the quarterfinal round of action at the Pac-10 Tournament, including a 4-4 mark at the Staples Center.
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 136-61 (.690) and 16-14 (.533) 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 their 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 2-1 against UCLA as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Nic Wise scored on a lay-up with 1.5 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give Arizona an 86-84 double overtime win last Saturday. In a game that featured nine ties and eight lead changes, both teams had chances to close it out but couldn't initially capitalize. UA's Kyle Fogg sank three free throws with two-tenths of a second to go in regulation to force overtime, while USC rallied to overcome a six-point deficit in the first OT. Arizona shot 47.4 percent from the field and placed five players in double figures while limiting USC to 39.7 percent shooting for the game.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins enter today's game with a 13-17 record (8-10 Pac-10) following Saturday's 56-46 loss at Arizona State. On the season, UCLA averages 66.4 points per game, shoots 46.8 percent from the field (734-of-1,567) and 62.2 percent (351-of-564) from the line. Bruin opponents average 68.0 points per game and outrebound UCLA by an average of 0.7 boards per game. Individually, four Bruin players average in double figures, led by Michael Roll's 13.5 ppg figure. Tyler Honeycutt leads the team with a 6.7 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 81st meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 46-34 series advantage. Arizona has won 14 of the last 25 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, including a 78-73 win at McKale Center on March 4. All-time, Arizona is 20-14 in series games played in Tucson, 13-29 in Westwood, and 1-3 in neutral-site games. See page 109 of the UA media guide for more series information. Arizona is 1-2 vs. UCLA in Pac-10 tournament action with the last decision being a 71-59 UCLA win in the 2006 semifinals.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 78, UCLA 73, March 4, 2010: Kyle Fogg, Lamont Jones and Nic Wise combined to score 45 or Arizona's 49 points in the second half as the Cats raced by the Bruins, 78-73. Trailing by 14 points with 15:53 to go, UA clamped down and outscored UCLA 42-23 the rest of the way. The Cats connected on 63.6 percent of its shots after halftime and limited the Bruins to just 33.3 percent shooting. Fogg hit 7-of-10 shots from three-point range - 5-of-6 in the second half - and finished with a game-high 26 points, while Jones tallied 16 and Wise added 12.
SEEDING NOTE: The Wildcats enter the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament as the No. 4 seed. In the 13-year of the Pac-10 Tournament , Arizona has been a No. 1 seed four times (1988, 89, 2003, 05), No. 2 three times (1987, 90, 2002) No. 3 once (2004), No. 4 twice (2006, 10), No. 5 twice (2007, 09) and a No. 7 seed once (2008). Additionally, no other Pac-10 team has played in as many conference postseason tournament games as Arizona's 25. Of those 25 contests, the Wildcats have played as the higher seed 20 times.
FRIENDLY FOES: Thursday's quarterfinal match-up with UCLA marks the seventh time that Arizona has faced an opponent in the Pac-10 Tournament that it swept during the regular season since the event moved to Staples Center in 2002. In the six previous occurrences, Arizona has a 5-1 record with the only defeat coming at the hands of UCLA (96-89 ot) in the 2003 quarterfinals.
FOLLOW HIS LEAD: Kyle Fogg led Arizona to its first weekend sweep in five weeks by averaging 22.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists in Arizona's two games last week. The sophomore guard connected on 52.4 percent of his field goals (11-of-21), including a stellar 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from three-point range, and added two assists, a block and a steal. Fogg opened the week by hitting 8-of-12 field goals en route to a career-high 26 points to go with four rebounds Thursday vs. UCLA. He connected on a career-best 7-of-10 from three-point range in scoring 19 of his 26 points in the second half as the Wildcats rallied for the five-point win. He followed that up with a career-best 18 points, three rebounds and a steal in Saturday's win over USC. Fogg sank 11 of his career-best 15 free throw attempts, including three with two-tenths of a second remaining in regulation to force overtime. It's the most points that Fogg has scored in consecutive games this season and marked his 17th game in double figures this year. On the year, Fogg averages 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 41.9 percent (103-of-246) from the field.
CLUTCH: Nic Wise closed his final regular season appearance in McKale Center in style by collecting yet another game-winning bucket. The 5-foot-10 senior guard from Houston, Texas, now has three big shots to his credit this season, as he also sank buzzer beaters against Lipscomb (Dec. 21) and North Carolina State (Dec. 23) prior to conference play. Wise finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in a career-best 44 minutes played Saturday against USC. Incidentally, his 5-of-10 shooting from the floor Saturday marked the first time he has been at 50 percent or better in a single game since Jan. 31, a span of nine contests. He was a first-team all-conference pick by the league's head coaches.
MAKING PROGRESS: By winning its last three games of the regular season, Arizona finished with a 10-8 record and a fourth-place finish in Pac-10 play. That represents the first time in three seasons that the Wildcats have won 10 or more conference games and finished in the top four places of the league standings. Over the last five seasons, Arizona has averaged 9.8 Pac-10 wins per season with an average finish of 4.6. Further, UA's double-overtime effort Saturday was the fourth of the year, and boosted its record to 3-1 when playing extra sessions. It is the most overtime periods for the program since the 2005-06 club played four OT game, posting a 3-1 record.
CLOSE CALLS: Nic Wise's lay-up with 1.5 seconds left in double overtime enabled Arizona to post an 86-84 win Saturday over USC and extend its current win streak to three heading into this week's Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. Each of UA's last three wins have been decided by five points or less (nine total points), two coming with shots at or near the final horn. This year, Arizona is 7-5 in games decided by five points or less, meaning that 40 percent of UA's schedule to date has been very close games.
TRAILING: One other constant in the Wildcats' current three-game win streak is the fact that UA has come from behind in each victory. In fact, in those three wins, Arizona has erased double-digit deficits in all three games, including two of 11 points or more in the second half (Stanford/UCLA). In that span, Arizona has outscored opponents by a 125-96 margin (9.7 ppg), and the team's 41.7 ppg scoring average in the closing period is 3.4 points higher than its season average for the half.
FIRST-YEAR PHENOM: Forward Derrick Williams continues to develop into a productive player at both ends, as he posted his best rebounding week of the season with 11-rebound efforts against both UCLA and USC. The efforts propelled the 6-foot-8 freshman to a pair of double-doubles as well, boosting his team-high total to four this season. Williams is averaging 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 30 appearances to date, while shooting 58.8 percent (157-of-267) from the field. He was named first-team all-Pac-10 and the Freshman of the Year in voting done by the league's head coaches.
FIVE IN USUALLY WINS: Arizona placed all five starters in double figures Saturday, as Kyle Fogg (18), Derrick Williams (18), Jamelle Horne (16), Nic Wise (15) and Solomon Hill (12) each chipped in with 10 or more tallies. It marked the 11th time this season that Arizona has placed four or more players in double figures, and when that happens the Cats are 9-2. The season high for UA players in double figures is six, achieved Jan. 10 vs. Washington. On a related note, all five players also established new career highs for minutes played in the contest.
GETTING BETTER: Arizona has shown flashes of an improving defensive club towards the end of the regular season. In the last three games, the Wildcats have limited opponents to just .350 (35-of-100) percent shooting in the second half or later, including 13.8 percent shooting (4-of-29) from three-point range. Saturday against USC, Arizona limited the Trojans to a .397 field goal percentage, and was the 10th time this season that UA has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting.
CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITIES: Arizona managed to win a game Saturday in which it shot the ball 16 fewer times than USC due largely to the fact that the Cats attempted a season-high 38 free throws. Bolstered by Kyle Fogg, who sank 11 of a career-best 15 FT attempts, Arizona sank 26 charity tosses, its third-highest total this season. Arizona outscores opponents by an average of 2.4 points per game from the free throw line this year and 12 times have made more than 20 FTs in a single game.
SOLO GOING: Forward Solomon Hill put forth a solid effort Saturday vs. USC, posting 12 points, three boards and three assists in 43 minutes of action. The 6-foot-6 freshman from Los Angeles, Calif., connected on 4-of-6 field goals to register his first game with 10 or more points in eight games. On the season, Hill is averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting .486 (71-of-146) from the field.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 86 points March 6 vs. USC, breaking the 80-point barrier for the sixth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 186-19 (.907) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 6-0 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: A win today puts Arizona into tomorrow's semifinals of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament with tip-off scheduled for 6:18 p.m. PST. A loss sends the club back to Tucson to await word on its postsason fate.