Cats Return to Action Monday

Dec. 18, 2009

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Date: Monday, Dec. 21, 2009

Time: 7 p.m. MST

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

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

TV: FCS Pacific (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

GAME DATA: Arizona (4-5, 0-0 Pac-10) returns home to close the non-conference portion of the 2009-10 schedule with a three-game homestand beginning Monday night against (4-5, 0-0 A-Sun) in McKale Center ... UA averages 77.0 points and shoots 45.0 percent from the field in four games at home this season, but sees those figures fall by 10.6 points and 2.0 percentage points away from McKale Center ... The Cats have not played in nine days due to final exams and will play a total of seven games over the holiday break before classes resume in January ... A win tonight would be the 125th for Wildcat mentor Sean Miller.

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 124-52 (.705) and 4-5 (.444) 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 Lipscomb as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Led by Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State parlayed a 38-25 rebounding edge into a 63-46 win Saturday night in San Diego. Leonard posted 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Aztecs to its first win over the Wildcats since December 1983. Seven of Leonard's rebounds were offensive as SDSU pulled down a UA opponent-high 17 offensive boards in the contest, including 12 in the first half, and held a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint. Derrick Williams led Arizona with 13 points and nine rebounds.

SCOUTING LIPSCOMB: The Bisons enter tonight's game with a 4-5 record (Lipscomb plays at Cincinnati on Dec. 19) following last Saturday's 105-68 home win over Oakland City, and is averaging 99.5 points per game during its current two-game winning streak. On the season, Lipscomb averages 85.2 points per game, shoots 48.5 percent from the field (276-of-569) and 69.3 percent (140-of-202) from the line. LU opponents average of 83.8 points per game and are outrebounded by 5.8 boards per game. Individually, four Bison players average in double figures, led by Adnan Hodzic's 21.8 ppg figure. He also leads the team in rebounding with a 7.4 rebounds per game figure.

THE SERIES: This is the first meeting of the two schools. All-time, Arizona is 1-2 (.333) against schools that presently make up the Atlantic Sun Conference. UA lost to East Tennessee State, 87-80, on March 20, 1992, in its last game against an A-Sun opponent. See page 111 in the Arizona basketball media guide for more series information.

TIS THE SEASON: As mentioned earlier, Arizona has been off for nine days due to final exams, and now has three games separating itself from the start of Pac-10 Conference play. In the previous five seasons, Arizona has a record of 14-2 (.875) in the non-conference games sandwiched between the end of the first semester and the start of league play, and won those games by an average of 13.7 points per contest.

HIGH OCTANE: By looking at the statistics, this game has the potential to be a high scoring affair. On the season, Lipscomb opponents average a robust 83.8 points per game and shoot a combined .507 (276-of-544) from the field, including an average of 10.2 made three-point field goals per game. Those figures could play favorably into the hands of an Arizona club that averages 81.8 points per game and shoots .492 (116-of-236) from the field in its four victories to date.

A RARITY: Arizona's 46 points Dec. 12 at San Diego State were a season low and marked the lowest offensive output since tallying 41 points in the final game of the 1984-85 campaign, a 50-41 loss to Alabama on March 15 in the NCAA Tournament. That's a span of 801 games. Incidentally, the last time Arizona scored 46 points or fewer points and won happened on Dec. 23, 1982, in a 46-44 home win over San Diego State.

FINDING MIDDLE GROUND: Arizona games have developed into all or nothing propositions...either the game is a close one or it's a laugher (depending on your perspective). To date, three of Arizona's nine games have been decided by four points or less, while the remaining six have been decided by 12 points or more. In its nine games, Arizona has out scored the opposition by a total of two points.

IN A RELATED STORY: The Wildcats managed a season-low 16 field goals last week against San Diego State, posting a .356 (16-of-45) field goal percentage. Two trends continued as a result: UA is 2-5 when shooting less than 50 percent as a team and the Cats fell to 0-4 this season when shooting worse than the opposition. Simply put, when Arizona makes shots it usually does well. There is a 99 percentage point difference in UA's field goal percentage (.492-.393) and a 19.2 point differential (81.8-62.6) in its four wins and five losses.

BEATEN ON THE BOARDS: UA lost the rebounding battle at San Diego State, 38-25, a final tally that was the biggest rebound deficit of the year. The Aztecs equaled a UA opponent season high with 17 offensive boards, including 12 in the first half alone. All told, SDSU converted those offensive rebounds into a 16-7 advantage in second chance points.

A PARADE TO THE LINE: Through nine games, Arizona and the opposition both average around 22 free throw attempts per game. However, there is quite a difference based on venue, as Arizona sports a +5.5 attempts per game at home and a -2.0 hole when playing at road or neutral sites.

STATISTICAL ANOMALY: Arizona forced San Diego State into 19 turnovers last week, a figure that equaled a UA opponent season high in 2009-10. However, the Wildcats couldn't capitalize on its slim turnover margin (19-16). It was the first time this season that Arizona held a turnover margin advantage and lost the game.

PRESSURE ON THE PERIMETER: Arizona's defensive pressure isn't limited to the area around the basket, as the Cats are holding opponents to a .259 three-point field goal percentage (45-of-174), a figure that leads the Pac-10. It should prove to be an interesting battle this evening, as Lipscomb shoots .389 (57-of-160) from three-point range and averages better than six treys per contest.

NEARING A MILESTONE: Senior guard Nic Wise enters Monday's game 18 points shy of 1,000 for his career. Should the Houston, Texas, product reach that milestone, he would become the 44th player in Arizona history to do so. In his 93-game career, Wise sports a 10.6 points per game scoring average. However, that average jumps to 13.1 ppg since the start of his sophomore season.

WATCH LIST: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Dec. 16 that Nic Wise has been selected as a candidate for the 2010 Bob Cousy Award. The list is comprised of 72 student-athletes in all three NCAA divisions, including 50 from Division I, who are vying for the honor of the nation's top point guard. Wise is one of two Pac-10 players on the list. A 5-foot-10, 177-pound, senior guard from Houston, Texas, Wise is averaging 16.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in nine appearances this year. He shoots 42.2 percent (46-of-109) from the field, including 37.2 percent (16-of-43) from behind the arc, to go with 94.7 percent (36-of-38) from the free throw line.

MR. CONSISTENCY: Freshman forward Derrick Williams has been nothing if not consistent. The 6-foot-8 La Mirada, Calif., product shares the team lead with seven games in double figures, has six games with five or more rebounds and leads the club with a .575 (42-of-73) field goal percentage. In a pair of games last week, Williams averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds, while shooting .500 (9-of-18) from the field. He currently ranks second on the team with per game averages of 14.0 points and 6.1 rebounds.

CREATING A SPARK: Freshman guard Lamont Jones provided a nice boost off the bench at San Diego State, finishing with a season-high 11 points and a steal in 21 minutes. The 6-foot native of Harlem, N.Y., connected on 4-of-6 field goal and 2-of-4 free throws to post the first double-figure scoring game of his career. Through nine games, Jones is averaging 5.4 points per game, while shooting .351 (20-of-57) from the field.

BUILDING STEADILY: Center Alex Jacobson stat line from the San Diego State game might not raise too many eyebrows: three points and no rebounds in 10 minutes. But there is a bit of improved productivity coming from the 7-foot, 245-pound sophomore from Santa Ana, Calif. Jacobson has logged 28 of his 39 total minutes in the last three games, and in that span has tallied five points and two rebounds. Every bit of productivity is welcome on a club that needs to use all of its depth.

AN AREA OF IMPROVEMENT: For a team that ranks eighth in the Pac-10 with a 0.9 assist:turnover ratio, it's not surprising to see that the Cats have had a positive (or equal) ratio in four of nine games to date: NAU, Rice, Colorado and UNLV. Arizona is 3-1 this season with a positive ratio and 1-4 without. Individually, just three players have a positive ratio: Nic Wise, 2:1 (a career best), Kyle Fogg, 1.7:1 and Brendon Lavender, 1.1:1.

MORE BALL MOVEMENT: If there is one thing that Coach Miller continues to preach offensively, it's the value of good ball movement. It's no secret that the right combination cuts, screens an d passes can lead to easy buckets. To date, Arizona has assists on 52.1 percent (114 of 219) of its field goals. However, that figure is down from each of the previous three seasons, as 2006-07 (502 of 846/.593), 2007-08 (526 of 843/.624) and 2008-09 (500 of 897/.557) were all slightly better than the current figure.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 82 points Dec. 9 vs. Louisiana Tech, breaking the 80-point barrier for the third time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 183-19 (.906) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 3-0 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 bounces back to action quickly following tonight's game by hosting North Carolina State on Monday, Dec. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net

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