Cats Open New Year at Pauley Pavilion
Jan. 1, 2010
Date: Saturday, Jan. 1, 2010
Time: 10 a.m. PST
Location: Pauley Pavilion (12,819), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: CBS (Spero Dedes/Greg Anthony)
GAME DATA: Arizona (6-7, 0-1 Pac-10) opens the New Year in Los Angeles, looking to salvage the second game of this Pac-10 opening road trip Saturday morning at UCLA (6-7, 1-0) ... The Wildcats look for its first true road win of the season, in this its fourth such contest ... UA's six-point loss Thursday, was just its second of six points or less in six total road or neutral-site games in 2009-10 ... Arizona finished December with a 3-5 record, its first losing month since March 2008 ... In the last 11-plus seasons, the Wildcats are a combined 9-14 on the Los Angeles road swing, with two sweeps and five splits to its credit.
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 126-53 (.700) and 6-7 (.462) 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 0-1 against UCLA as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Hitting 16-of-18 free throws was not enough to offset 15-of-50 shooting from the field, as the Wildcats dropped a 56-50 decision Thursday at USC. Arizona fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first half, before cutting the gap to seven at the break following an 11-1 run. The Cats cut the deficit to five points four times in the second half, but could get no closer. Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne combined for 28 points and 12 rebounds.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins enter this morning's game with a 6-7 record (1-0 Pac-10) and a three-game winning streak following Thursday's 72-70 home win over Arizona State. On the season, UCLA averages 68.8 points per game, shoots 45.8 percent from the field (334-of-730) and 60.7 percent (145-of-239) from the line. Bruin opponents average 68.1 points per game and are outrebounded by 1.6 boards per game. Individually, four UCLA players average in double figures, led by Malcolm Lee's 14.6 ppg figure. Reeves Nelson leads the team in rebounding with a 5.8 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 79th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 46-32 series advantage. Arizona has won 12 of the last 23 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, and snapped UCLA's eight-game series win streak with an 84-72 triumph in Tucson on Feb. 14, 2009. All-time, Arizona is 19-14 in series games played in Tucson, 12-29 in Westwood, and 1-3 in neutral-site games. See page 109 of the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 84, UCLA 72, Feb. 14, 2009: A 22-9 run midway through the first half gave Arizona a lead it would not relinquish, as the Cats defeated UCLA for the first time in nine meetings. Nic Wise scored seven of his game-high 26 points during the run and led an offensive attack that built as much as a 25-point lead and handed the Bruins its worst loss of the season. UA, who has scored 80 or more points in five of its last seven games, shot 50 percent from the field, posted a 34-27 rebound advantage and forced 20 UCLA turnovers. Jordan Hill added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
ON THE GLASS: Arizona managed to outrebound USC, 35-33, Thursday, marking just the fourth time this season that the Wildcats have prevailed on the glass. Winning that battle hasn't been a cure-all for the Cats, as the team is just 2-2 this season when outrebounding the opposition, but it was the first time Arizona had accomplished the feat in five games. Incidentally, the Wildcats were able to win the boards with a strong second-half effort, outrebounding USC, 18-12, in the second half.
SECOND CHANCES: It's certainly no surprise that Arizona managed to keep itself in a game in which it shot just 30 percent from the field (15-of-50) by doing some good work on the offensive boards. Thursday vs. USC, Arizona tallied 12 offensive rebounds, which equaled the second-highest single-game total this season. The 12 offensive boards led to a 16-6 second-chance points advantage for the Cats. Arizona's 12 offensive boards were nearly three more than the team's current 9.3 offensive rebounds per game average of 9.3.
THE IRON UNKIND: The Wildcats managed only a season-low 15 field goals and 30.0 percent shooting (15-of-50) in Thursday's loss and has now failed to shoot 50 percent or better from the field in five consecutive games. In that span, UA has combined to shoot 41.0 percent (107-of-261) from the floor and average 64.8 points per game. Those figures trail the 145-of-298 (.487) shooting and 74.8 points per game output of the opposition in that same span. This season, Arizona is 4-7 when shooting less than 50 percent from the field, but 5-1 in games where it shoots better than the opposition.
AN UPHILL BATTLE: While Arizona has only played three true road games this season, it is worth noting that the Wildcats have not had a significant lead of any kind covering any real length in any of its road games this season. Arizona has held only two leads of one point each for a total of 73 seconds in its three true road games, and both of those happened Thursday in the first half. In those contests, Arizona has trailed by an average of 12.7 points at halftime, and it's seven-point deficit Thursday was its smallest of the season at the break. Overall, UA is just 1-5 this year when trailing at halftime.
A RARITY: For a guy who is tied for seventh on Arizona's career three-point field goal percentage list (130-of-323/.402), it is rare indeed that he would fail to attempt at least one trey in a game, but that is what happened Thursday as Nic Wise did not attempt a single field goal from behind the arc. It marks just the 10th time in his career that Wise hasn't hoisted a trey, but nine of those occurrences came during his freshman campaign when he averaged just 8.2 minutes per game. Since taking over as the UA starting point guard in 2007-08, Wise had only done that one time: Dec. 16, 2007, against Fresno State, a span of 66 games.
WITH REGULARITY: Nic Wise attempted four free throws in Thursday's game, bringing his career total to an even 300. In that span, the 5-foot-10 senior has connected on 251 of those attempts, which is good for a percentage of 83.7 and sixth place on UA's career free throw percentage list. On the season, Wise is shooting an impressive 92.2 percent (59-of-64) from the charity stripe.
TAKING ADVANTAGE: Led by freshman Derrick Williams, Arizona made the most of its opportunities from the free throw line as the team connected on 16-of-18 attempts (.889). Williams connected on 11-of-12 individually, marking the fifth time this season that the forward has accumulated double-figure attempts from the line. A 66.0 percent (70-of-106) shooter from the stripe this season, Williams has made 18-of-22 (.818) free throws in the last two games.
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Arizona limited USC to just 11.1 percent shooting (1-of-9) from three-point range Thursday, which is more in line with its season-long effort. Through 13 games, Arizona is limiting opponents to 31.1 percent shooting (79-of-254) from three-point range, and entered the week ranked third in the Pac-10 in that category. It is also markedly better than the 54.1 percent figure (33-of-61) that Arizona opponents had hoisted in its three previous game combined.
TOUGH SLEDDING: Arizona guard Nic Wise finished Thursday's game with three assists, a game after posting none for the first time this season, and just the third time since taking over the starting point guard duties in 2007-08. During his career, the Wildcats are 23-10 (.697) when Wise passes out five or more assists in a game. Assists have been hard to come by of late, as Arizona has collected 55 assists on 107 field goals (51.4 percent) over the last five games and as mentioned earlier, shot just 41.0 percent as a team in that span. Thursday's game was rough on the assist category all around, as USC and UA combined for just 13 assists on 36 total FGs.
CONSISTENT PRODUCTION: Freshman Derrick Williams continues to be a model of consistency, as he is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds, while leading the team with a .559 (62-of-111) field goal percentage. Thursday against USC, the 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., knocked down 11-of-12 free throws en route to team-high totals of 15 points, eight boards and a season-best two steals. Williams leads all Wildcats with 11 games in double figures this year.
STEADY: Sophomore guard Kyle Fogg registered a modest eight points against USC and continues to be a steady contributor for the Cats. Over his last five games, the 6-foot-3, Brea, Calif., native is averaging 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from the three-point range and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line.
A SURPRISE LEADER: With three more treys in Thursday's game, forward Jamelle Horne took over the team lead with 21 three-point field goals, which is a pretty good figure for the 6-foot-7 forward from San Diego, Calif. On the season, Horne has connected on 41.2 percent of his long-range attempts (21-of-51) and that marksmanship is far better than his career mark of 26.1 percent (18-of-69) that he held entering the 2009-10 season.
BOARD WORK: Freshman forward Solomon Hill collected six rebounds in Thursday's game, marking the seventh time this season that he's grabbed five or more boards in a game, a figure that ranks third on the team behind Derrick Williams (10) and Jamelle Horne (8).
RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: Over the past decade, Arizona has been good at getting off to a good start in the new year, as the Cats are 7-3 in the first game in January dating back to the 1999-2000 campaign. In that span, Arizona carries a +5.0 scoring margin in those 10 games.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 83 points Dec. 21 vs. Lipscomb, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fourth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 184-19 (.906) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 4-0 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: The Wildcats return home to open the home portion of the conference slate, as the squad hosts Washington State on Friday, Jan. 8. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST and can be seen on KGUN-TV and FS Arizona.