Wildcats, Bulldogs Tip Wednesday

Dec. 8, 2009

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Date: Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Time: 9 p.m. MST

Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.

Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)

TV: KWBA/FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

GAME DATA: Arizona (3-4, 0-0 Pac-10) returns to the comforts of McKale Center to host a stout Louisiana Tech club (7-1, 0-0 WAC) Wednesday night ... The Wildcats look to get back on the winning side of the ledger tonight and snap a three-game losing streak ... The Cats average 75.0 points per game at home this season ... To close non-conference action this year, Arizona plays four of its next five games at home, though the five opponents have a combined record of 27-10 (.730) to date ... Tonight's game is the back half of a men's/women's basketball doubleheader, as the Wildcat women host New Mexico at 6 p.m.

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 123-51 (.707) and 3-4 (.429) 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 Louisiana Tech as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Willie Warren scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half as Oklahoma pulled away early in Sunday's 79-62 win in Norman. Five of the Sooners' first seven field goal were treys to propel OU to a double-digit lead in the first eight minutes. Oklahoma limited Arizona to 33 percent shooting and forced nine turnovers in the first half in building an 18-point lead at intermission. Nic Wise (15), Jamelle Horne (13) and Derrick Williams (11) each finished in double figures for the Wildcats.

SCOUTING LOUISIANA TECH: The Bulldogs enter tonight's game with a 7-1 record following Saturday's 98-70 home win over Northwestern State, and is averaging 81.0 points per game during its current five-game winning streak. On the season, Tech averages 76.4 points per game, shoots 46.2 percent from the field (214-of-463) and 71.0 percent (132-of-186) from the line. The Bulldogs limit opponents to an average of 65.2 points per game and outrebounds foes by 5.5 boards per game. Individually, four Tech players average in double figures, led by Kyle Gibson's 21.0 ppg figure. Olu Ashaolu is averaging a double-double through eight games with averages of 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds.

THE SERIES: This is the first meeting of the two schools. All-time, Arizona is 73-48 (.603) against schools that presently reside in the Western Athletic Conference. UA defeated New Mexico State, 102-87, in McKale Center on Nov. 15, 2006, in its last game against a WAC foe. Please see page 111 of the Arizona media guide for more series information.

NICE PROGRESS: Freshman Derrick Williams led Arizona with per game averages of 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in a pair of games last week. The 6-foot-8 forward connected on 70.0 percent of his field goals (10-of-15) and 68.8 percent of his free throw attempts (11-of-16), while adding an assist. He opened the week by knocking down a career-best 10 field goals en route to a career-high 28 points to go with five rebounds and a steal in a season-best 32 minutes. He then added 11 points (4-of-5 FG), six rebounds, an assist and a steal in Arizona's first true road game of the season. On the year, Williams leads Arizona with a .600 (33-of-55) field goal percentage, 54 free throw attempts and ranks second on the team with per game averages of both 14.6 points and 6.0 rebounds.

YOU'RE GETTING SLEEPY: It's probably safe to assume that 9 p.m. isn't a preferred start time, but such late tips aren't uncommon. In fact, Arizona has had a total of six games start at 9 p.m. or later local time in the previous three seasons, and the Cats are 2-4 in those games. Here is a quick look at those contests:

Dec. 5, 2006:  Arizona 72, Louisville 65, 9:30 p.m. EST, New York, N.Y.Dec. 29. 2007:  Memphis 76, Arizona 63, 9 p.m. CST, Memphis, Tenn.Feb. 21, 2008:  Washington 75, Arizona 66, 9 p.m. PST, Seattle, Wash.March 20, 2008:  West Virginia 75, Arizona 65, 9:30 p.m. EST, Washington, D.C.Nov. 17, 2008:  Arizona 75, Florida Atlantic 62, 9 p.m. MST, Tucson, Ariz.Nov. 18, 2008:  UAB 72, Arizona 71, 9:30 p.m. MST, Tucson, Ariz. 

PUT A STOP TO IT: As mentioned earlier, Arizona enters tonight's contest riding a three-game losing streak. In case you were wondering, the last time the Wildcats endured such a string was Feb. 22-March 5 of last season, when UA dropped four games. Interestingly, prior to last season such a streak hadn't happened since the 1983-84 campaign.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE NUMBERS: In its last three games, Arizona has struggled at both ends of the court, connecting on just 41.0 percent (71-of-173) of its field goal attempts en route to an average of 68.7 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 46.7 percent (84-of-180) and average 79.0 points per game. Arizona is outrebounding its foes by a +1.6 margin per game, but it's not enough to offset a -4.0 turnover margin and a 22-12 deficit in steals in the last three outings.

A POSITIVE STEP: After struggling out of the gate Sunday at Oklahoma, the Arizona offense did show a few positive signs in the second half. The Cats connected on just 9-of-27 (.333) attempts in the opening stanza. In the second half, UA shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23), which was a season high for the period, and boosted the team's FG percentage for the game to 44.0 percent (22-of-50). That figure was the best for the club in three games, and is better than UA's overall percentage of .439 (174-of-396) through seven games.

OUTSCORING THEM LATE: Arizona's improved marksmanship in the second half Sunday helped the Cats outscore Oklahoma, 36-35, after intermission. Such a modest advantage may not seem like much, but it marked the third time this season that Arizona enjoyed a second-half scoring advantage. On the year, UA posts a +2.6 scoring margin in the first half and a -2.4 scoring margin in the second.

ON THE GLASS: Arizona won the rebounding battle Sunday, 32-28, which marked the third consecutive game in which the Wildcats either tied or won on the glass. Rebounding hasn't been the tell all that it has been in the past, as Arizona is just 1-2 this season when outrebouding the opposition and 2-2 when not. In the previous five seasons, Arizona was 71-22 (.763) when outrebounding the opposition.

DIALED IN: Led by Jamelle Horne (3-of-4) and Nic Wise (3-of-6), Arizona connected on 52.9 percent (9-of-17) of its three-point field goal attempts Sunday at Oklahoma. The Wildcats' nine treys and its percentage Sunday were its second-highest totals of the season, topped only by its 14-of-24 (.583) effort vs. Colorado on Nov. 22 at the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

POINTS IN RESERVE: Maybe it was the fact that all 12 active players saw action Sunday, regardless Arizona posted an 18-9 advantage in bench points. While that was only the third time that UA has enjoyed such an advantage (NAU/Vanderbilt/Oklahoma) the Wildcats actually have outscored the opposition this season from the bench, 128-123.

MOVING UP: In knocking down 3-of-6 attempts from behind the arc on Sunday, Nic Wise continues to move up Arizona's career three-point shooting lists. Those six attempts in Norman, Okla., moved the senior guard from Houston, Texas, past the 300-attempts plateau (302) and he is on pace to finish his career in the top 10 in both treys made and attempted. The 5-foot-10 Wise already resides in the top 10 for percentage, having made 124-of-302 (.411), a clip that is currently tied for sixth place all-time.

FOGG WARNING: Guard Kyle Fogg put forth a solid effort against Oklahoma, totaling nine points, one rebound and three assists and a steal in 23 minutes. The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Brea, Calif., equaled season highs with two treys and 3-of-4 shooting from the line. On the year, Fogg is averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

IN THE MIDDLE: Freshman center Kyryl Natyazhko continues to make improvements in the middle, as he tallied five rebounds and added a block at Oklahoma. For the 6-foot-10 native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, it was his third game with five or more rebounds. On the year, Natyazhko is averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. Over the last three games his rebound average improves to 4.7 per game.

ON TARGET: A pair of freshmen have been worthwhile through the first seven games, as forwards Derrick Williams (33-of-55/.600) and Solomon Hill (22-of-44/.500) lead the Cats in field goal percentage, and are the only two UA players shooting 50 percent or better. Combined, the duo has made 55-of-99 (.556) of its attempts from the floor. The last UA freshman to lead the team in field goal percentage for the season was Channing Frye (122-of-205/.595) in 2001-02.

MORE FROM THE MIDDLE: Center Alex Jacobson two points and a rebound in 11 minutes Sunday at Oklahoma. Not only did the effort double the number of minutes the sophomore has logged this season, it marked just the eighth appearance with 10 or more minutes in his career (30 appearances. Additionally, it was his first game with 10 or more minutes since Jan. 24, 2009, a span of 13 games dating back to last season.

RE-ESTABLISHING HIMSELF: Sophomore guard Garland Judkins hit 2-of-3 FG, including a trey, to go with two free throws en route to a season-high seven points in only eight minutes of action. It's the most points scored for the Humble, Texas, native since establishing his career high of 12 points vs. Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 24, 2008. The trey was also a career first for Judkins in five career attempts.

MAKING THEM COUNT: Frontcourt reserve D.J. Shumpert made the most of his five minutes of action Sunday by setting or equaling career highs in rebounds (2), assists (1), steals (1) and minutes played (5). He also attempted the first two FTs of his career.

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 one last time in the non-conference portion of the schedule on Saturday, Dec. 12, when its meets San Diego State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST and will be televised by the Mountain West Network.

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