Cats Prepare for Quick Maui Turnaround
Nov. 24, 2009
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009
Time: 11 a.m. HST
Location: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400), Lahaina, Hawaii
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: ESPN2 (Carter Blackburn/Jimmy Dykes)
GAME DATA: Arizona (2-1, 0-0 Pac-10) faces Colorado (3-1, 0-0 Big 12) in the consolation bracket semifinals of the 26th annual EA Sports Maui Invitational ... It is the first time in five Maui Invitational appearances that Arizona lost its opening-round game ... UA's 61points yesterday vs. Wisconsin equaled a program low here at the Maui Invitational ... Three games in three days is never easy, but limiting preparation time, i.e. rest, to about 12 hours since Monday's final buzzer only increases the degree of difficulty.
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 122-48 (.718) and 2-1 (.667) 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.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona dug itself an early 13-0 hole, spent the next 22 minutes digging out of it, but couldn't fully complete the comeback in what was a 65-61 loss to Wisconsin Monday. On the strength on Derrick Williams (25 points) and Nic Wise (13 points), the Wildcats actually took a lead on three separate occasions late in the contest before two rebound dunks by Keaton Nankivill settled things in the final minute. Thirteen of Williams' career-high 25 points came from the free throw line in 21 attempts, a UA single-game record.
SCOUTING COLORADO: The Buffaloes slipped to 3-1 on the young season following Monday's 76-72 loss to Gonzaga. CU is averaging 82.5 points per game, while posting impressive percentages of .549 (107-of-195) from the field, .484 (30-of-62) from three-point range and .811 (86-106) from the line. With all those makes, there aren't a lot of rebounds to be had and the Buffs are out-boarded by an average of 1.7 per game. Eight Colorado players are averaging more than 15 minutes per game, and three are averaging in double figures, led by Cory Higgins's 22.3 ppg figure. Higgins also leads the club with a 4.0 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 13th meeting of the two schools with Colorado holding an 8-4 series advantage. Arizona has won two straight in the series, which dates back to Dec. 2, 1960, including the last, a 94-63 UA win in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 21, 1974. All-time, Arizona is 3-3 in series games played in Tucson, 1-5 in Boulder, Colo., and 0-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 108 in the UA basketball media guide for more series information.
AGAINST THE BIG 12: Arizona has a 64-67 (.489) record against current Big 12 Conference members. UA is 3-2 against the league over the previous four seasons, last facing a Big 12 opponent on Dec. 23, 2008, in what was an 84-67 defeat of Kansas in McKale Center.
EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL HISTORY: Now in its 26th year as the premier early-season event, the EA Sports Maui Invitational and the University of Arizona have enjoyed a nice partnership. As mentioned earlier, the Cats have appeared four previous times (1993, 1997, 2000, 2005), won it once (2000) and finished second twice (1993, 1997). Overall, UA is 8-5 (.615) in the Maui Invitational. A win today would give the Cats sole possession of fifth place on the tournament's all-time victories list. Here is a look at Arizona's game-by-game tourney results:
Dec. 21, 1993 vs. Notre Dame W, 98-79Dec. 22, 1993 vs. Boston College W, 70-65Dec. 23, 1993 vs. Kentucky L, 92-93Nov. 24, 1997 vs. Boston College W, 99-69Nov. 25, 1997 vs. Kentucky W, 89-74Nov. 26, 1997 vs. Duke L, 87-95Nov. 20, 2000 vs. Chaminade W, 97-57Nov. 21, 2000 vs. Dayton W, 76-59Nov. 22, 2000 vs. Illinois W, 79-76Nov. 21, 2005 vs. Kansas W, 61-49Nov. 22, 2005 vs. Connecticut L, 70-79Nov. 23, 2005 vs. Michigan State L, 71-74 (ot)Nov. 23, 2009 vs. Wisconsin L, 61-65
FIRST-ROUND CLUNKERS: After playing in the championship game in each of its first three visits to the Maui Invitational (and averaging 87.4 ppg in those nine games), Arizona has had two not-so-pretty games in its last two Maui Invite openers - and both share similar features. On Nov. 21, 2005, Arizona defeated Kansas, 61-49, in a contest in which the teams combined to shoot 31.0 percent (36-of-116), committed 45 fouls and saw the Cats post a 23-7 advantage from the charity stripe. Similarly, last night's contestants combined to shoot 36.2 percent (38-of-105), committed 54 fouls and saw Arizona 26-17 advantage from the stripe. The only real difference was in the outcome.
THE WRONG DIRECTION: As mentioned above, last night's loss to Wisconsin was UA's first first-round defeat in the Maui Invitational, which means that the Cats move left in the bracket for the first time. How successful was Arizona in those previous openers? UA won those four previous openers by an average of 25.3 points. The Wildcats are 3-1 in second-round Maui match-ups and posting a +7.0 scoring margin in those games.
A RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCE: Freshman forward Derrick Williams not only established new career highs with his 25 points and eight rebounds in what was his third collegiate game, but he also left a more indelible mark at the free throw line. The 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., set a new Arizona single-game record with 21 free throw attempts (made 13). The record was originally set by Bob Elliott on Feb. 2, 1974 vs. Arizona State (made 14) and equaled by Jerryd Bayless on Jan. 12, 2008 at Houston (made 18). Coincidentally, Williams, Elliott and Bayless were all freshmen when accomplishing the feat.
SLOW STARTS: To say the Wildcats got off to a slow start Monday vs. Wisconsin might be an understatement. The Cats missed their first eight field goal attempts and fell behind 13-0 before getting things going with a pair of free throws by Derrick Williams at the 14:06 mark. Arizona didn't make its first field goal until the 10:46 mark (a trey by Lamont Jones) and finished the first half connecting on just 5-of-21 (.238). That was the opposite of what the Cats had produced in its two previous games on the mainland in which it was averaging 44.0 points and a +16.5 scoring margin in the opening stanza. Perhaps it's reassuring to know that UA outscored Wisconsin, 61-52, once the ball actually went through the hoop.
A MEASURE OF IMPORTANCE: Arizona personnel will tell you that Nic Wise is absolutely essential to the team's success. Here is a measure of how much: foul trouble limited the 5-foot-10 senior point guard to just 27 minutes vs. Wisconsin, and in those 27 minutes with Wise actually on the court, Arizona outscored Wisconsin, 51-45. Wise still managed to tally 13 points, a season-high six rebounds and three assists.
GOTTA GET BETTER: Arizona connected on 26-of-37 free throws Monday, good for a respectable 70.3 percent, but the Cats have left a good number of points at the line, connecting on 53-of-76 (.697) through three games. Why is this cause for concern? In the previous five seasons, Arizona has shot a cumulative 74.5 percent (2,826-of-3,526) from the charity stripe. A step in the right direction was that Nic Wise went 7-of-7 from the free throw line Monday, and those were his first attempts this season.
DOUBLE FIGURES: Forward Jamelle Horne put forth another solid effort Monday, posting nine points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots. It marked the second double-figure rebound game this season from the junior from San Diego, Calif., and the fourth of his career. On the year, Horne is averaging 12.0 points, and a team-leading 9.7 rebounds per game.
IN NOVEMBER: Fast starts have become the norm for the Wildcats. Over the last 25-plus seasons, Arizona is 66-19 (.776) in the month of November. The numbers are even more impressive considering the quality of competition, as 27 of 85 opponents (31.8 percent) were nationally ranked. In those contests, Arizona is 18-9 (.667). UA will play twice more in November this season. In six seasons as a head coach, Sean Miller's teams are 23-5 (.821) during the month of November.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 87 points in the season opener, breaking the 80-point barrier for the first time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 181-19 (.905) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 1-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
UP NEXT: Following today's game, Arizona will meet either Vanderbilt or Chaminade in Wednesday's third round. Should the Wildcats win, that game would tip-off at 2 p.m. HST. If the Cats lose, the game would begin at 9 a.m. HST. Either start time would be televised nationally on ESPNU.