Wildcats Face First Road Test of Season
Dec. 4, 2009
Date: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009
Time: 6 p.m. CST
Location: Lloyd Noble Center (12,000), Norman, Okla.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: ESPNU (Doug Bell/Reid Gettys)
GAME DATA: Arizona (3-3, 0-0 Pac-10) faces its first true road game of the season Sunday at Oklahoma (4-3, 0-0 Big 12) as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series ... Dating back to the start of the 2000-01 campaign, the Wildcats are 56-44 (.560) in true road games ... Arizona enjoys a +3.3 scoring margin through six games this season, but away from home that number flips to -4.0 ... A win today would give Sean Miller a victory in his first true road game as the UA head coach, something that has not been accomplished since Walter Davis led the Cats to a 40-17 road win at Arizona State on Feb. 2, 1925, covering the tenures of eight Arizona coaches.
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 123-50 (.711) and 3-3 (.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 Oklahoma as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: In a game that featured 16 ties and 21 lead changes with neither team leading by more than five points, Derrick Jasper's trey with 1:41 to go in the second overtime enabled UNLV to outlast Arizona, 74-72, Wednesday in double overtime. UA limited UNLV to 39.7 percent shooting and nearly 30 points below its season scoring average in regulation, but couldn't convert chances to win or take control at the end of regulation and in the extra sessions. Derrick Williams tallied a career-high 28 points, while Nic Wise added 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA: The Sooners enter tonight's game with a 4-3 record following Wednesday's 67-47 home win over Arkansas. OU averages 77.3 points per game, shoots 46.6 percent from the field (178-of-382) and 79.0 percent (128-of-162) from the line. Oklahoma limits opponents to an average of 71.0 points per game - 59.8 points in the four wins and 86.0 points in the three losses - and outrebounds foes by 2.3 boards per game. Individually, four Sooners average in double figures, led by Willie Warren's 19.2 ppg figure. Tiny Gallon leads the club with a 9.9 rebounds per game mark.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the sixth meeting of the two schools with Oklahoma holding a 4-1 series advantage. The Sooners have won the last two meetings in the series, which dates back to April 2, 1988, by an 88-67 count on March 21, 2002. Of the five previous meetings, three have come in the NCAA Tournament. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Norman, Okla., and 0-3 in neutral-site games. Please see page 108 of the Arizona media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Oklahoma 88, Arizona 67, March 21, 2002: The Wildcats saw their season come to an abrupt halt courtesy of a 21-point loss to Oklahoma in the West Regional Semifinal. The defeat was the second-worst of the season and the program's third-worst in NCAA Tournament play. After shooting 56.5 percent from the floor in the first half, UA could only muster 29.4 percent accuracy in the second as the club was outscored 55-30 after the break. Jason Gardner (14) and Will Bynum (10) were the only Wildcats to finish in double figures.
AGAINST THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE: Arizona has a 65-67 (.492) record against current Big 12 Conference members. UA is 4-2 against the league over the last four-plus seasons, last facing a Big 12 opponent on Nov. 24, 2009, in what was an 91-87 overtime win over Colorado in EA Sports Maui Invitational.
LEADING THE WAY: Frontline player Derrick Williams seems to have adjusted nicely to college basketball. Through six games, the 6-foot-8 freshman from La Mirada, Calif., ranks second on the team with a 15.2 points per game average and leads the Cats with a .580 (29-of-50) field goal percentage, and is the only Wildcat to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor. Wednesday vs. No. 24 UNLV, Williams knocked in a career-best 10 field goals en route to a career-high 28 points. That marked his second game of 25 or more points this season. He's finished in double figures in four of six appearances this year.
IMPACTING THE GAME IN OTHER WAYS: Senior guard Nic Wise was off the mark Wednesday, connecting on 3-of-13 field goal attempts, but still managed to put his stamp on things. The Houston, Texas, native connected on 12-of-12 free throws to equal the UA single game record for free throw percentage, grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, passed out six assists and played in a career-best 43 minutes. On the season, Wise leads the team in scoring (16.8 ppg) and assists (5.0 apg).
CONTROLLING THE GLASS: Junior Jamelle Horne has worked himself into a force on the glass. Thursday vs. UNLV, Horne tallied 10 rebounds to mark his third double-figure rebounding game this season and the fifth of his career. The 6-foot-7 San Diego, Calif., product currently leads the club with a 9.2 rebounds-per-game average and entered the week ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in rebounding. Horne entered the season with a career rebounding average of 4.1 per game.
OFF THE MARK: Defense was the order of the day Wednesday, as UNLV and Arizona combined to shoot 38.2 percent (50-of-131) in the double overtime affair, including 9-of-48 (.188) from three-point range. The Wildcats found the going tough in the second half, shooting just 24.0 percent (6-of-25) from the floor en route to a season-low 36.5 percent (23-of-63) figure. This season, Arizona is 0-2 when shooting worse than the opposition and 2-3 when shooting less than 50 percent as a team
CHIPPING IN: Freshman forward Solomon Hill currently ranks third on the team with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game. Wednesday vs. UNLV, the 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., collected seven caroms. He has grabbed six ore more rebounds in four of UA's six games to date.
AN INTERESTING PHENOMENON: Arizona held UNLV to a season-low .397 percentage (27-of-68) Wednesday, which marked the third time this season that UA has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. However, the Cats are just 1-2 when that happens (W vs. Rice, L vs. Wisconsin, UNLV). Through six games, Arizona is holding opponents to .404 shooting from the floor (153-of-379).
GOOD SIGNS: There were a few good signs in Wednesday's defeat. Foremost, the fact that Arizona committed just 19 fouls in 50 minutes of action, and second, the fact that UA drew 27 fouls on UNLV. This enabled Arizona to make more free throws (22) than the Runnin' Rebels attempted (21). This is noteworthy because Arizona committed 84 fouls in its three previous games at the maui Invitational and allowed Wisconsin, Colorado and Vanderbilt to shoot an average of 30 free throws per game. Additionally, those 27 UNLV personals were a 2009-10 UA opponent high.
CLOSE CALLS: Arizona played its second overtime game of the season Wednesday against UNLV, a contest that was UA's first to go into double overtime since Dec. 31, 2005 (a 96-95 UA win at Washington). To date, the nail biters haven't been kind to the Cats, as the team is 1-2 in games decided by five points or less. Be certain to check the score board with five minutes to go in the second half. To date, Arizona is 3-0 when leading and 0-3 when trailing at that point.
BALL SECURITY: Arizona equaled a season-low with 12 turnovers Wednesday, not too bad for a game that went to double overtime. The turnover every 4.2 minutes against UNLV was a improvement over the miscue every 2.9 minutes ratio the club had entering the contest. Nic Wise had six assists and two turnovers in 43 minutes and carries a 1.9 assist:turnover ratio on the season.
MORE FROM MOMO: Lamont 'MoMo' Jones continues to make positive strides, as witnessed by his nine-point, five-rebound performance against UNLV. The 6-foot freshman guard from Harlem, N.Y., set new season-bests with those totals, as well as his 32 minutes of action and 11 field goal attempts. On the season, Jones is averaging 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT: With 12 more attempts Wednesday, forward Derrick Williams reached the 50-attempt plateau at the free throw line. That figure is more than one-third (34 percent) of the entire team's total of 148, and nearly twice as many as the next closest Cat (Nic Wise, 27). Interestingly, those numbers aren't much different from Oklahoma's Willie Warren, who has attempted 34 percent (55-of-162) of the Sooners' charity tosses.
ESTABLISHING A CORRELATION: As mentioned earlier, Arizona connected on just 24.0 percent (6-of-25) of its field goal attempts in the second half of Wednesday's contest and managed a season-low 20 points in the period. That was the lowest scoring second half for Arizona since Feb. 24, 2005, when the Cats tallied 19 in a 57-56 overtime win at Washington State.
MAKING STRIDES: Freshman Kyryl Natyazhko continues to see his productivity improve, as he connected on all three field goal attempts vs. the Runnin' Rebels, including his first collegiate trey en route to seven points and three offensive rebounds. In the last three games, the 6-foot-10 center is averaging 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds, while shooting .600 (6-of-10) from the field.
ADJUSTING THE ROTATION: UA played its longest game of the season vs. UNLV and used only eight players in the effort. That's the fewest number of players to check in this season. On the year, eight Cats are logging 15 minutes per game or better.
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.
ON A RELATED NOTE: Arizona's 74-72 loss to UNLV marked the second lowest scoring double overtime game in program history, topped only by a 30-28 defeat at USC on Feb. 20, 1926.
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 heads back to Tucson to host Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. MST and will be televised locally by KWBA-TV.