Sunday Afternoon in McKale: Cats vs. Dawgs

Jan. 9, 2010

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Date: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010

Time: 3:30 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 (7-8, 1-2 Pac-10) caps the home-opening weekend of its Pac-10 schedule Sunday afternoon against No. 24 Washington (10-4, 1-2 Pac-10) in McKale Center ... The Wildcats look for its first win this season against a nationally ranked opponent in its third try ... Following today's game, five of UA's next seven games will be on the road, a place that the Cats are just 3-12 since the start of the 2008-09 campaign ... Washington allows its opponents an average of 71.2 points per game, while six of Arizona's seven win this year have come when scoring 70 or more points ... Second chances may be the keystone stat today, as the Huskies average 4.3 more offensive boards than its opponents, while the Wildcats grab an average of 2.7 fewer offensive caroms than the opposition.

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 127-55 (.698) and 7-8 (.467) 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 Washington.

LAST TIME OUT: DeAngelo Casto's bucket with one-tenth of a second remaining sealed Arizona's fate in a 78-76 decision Friday that featured 10 ties and four lead changes. Arizona did enough things right to keep itself in the game - four players in double figures, forced 16 WSU turnovers - but couldn't get enough stops when it needed them, punctuated by WSU's 35-26 rebound advantage that included eight second-half offensive rebounds. Nic Wise led the Cats with 15 points, while Derrick Williams and Kyle Fogg added 13 apiece.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON: The Huskies enter today's game with a 10-4 record (1-2 Pac-10) following Friday's 68-51 loss at Arizona State. On the season, UW averages 80.3 points per game, shoots 44.3 percent from the field (392-of-884) and 70.8 percent (274-of-387) from the line. Husky opponents average 71.2 points per game and are outrebounded by 6.6 boards per game. Individually, two UW players average in double figures, led by Quincy Pondexter's 20.4 ppg figure. Pondexter also leads the team in rebounding with an 8.3 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Today's game marks the 66th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 42-24 series advantage. Arizona has won six of the last 11 in the series, but Washington took the last, 83-78 in Seattle on Feb. 28, 2009. All-time, Arizona is 24-6 in series games played in Tucson, 17-15 in Seattle, Wash., and 1-2 in neutral site games. See page 110 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Washington 83, Arizona 78, Feb. 28, 2009: In another intensely played game between these two clubs, free throws once again proved to be the great equalizer, as Washington went to the line 22 more times than Arizona in the second half to help UW erase a 10-point deficit in the closing period. The Huskies struggled from the line for much of the night, connecting on just 54.3 percent of its tries, but knocked down 10-of-12 in the final three minutes. Jordan Hill led the Wildcats with 27 points and 10 rebounds, his 16th of the season, while Chase Budinger added 20 points and eight boards.

SEARCHING FOR POSITIVES: There is a tendency to agonize over a close loss, while trying to figure out the things you could have differently or better to have changed the result for the better. Certainly, Arizona did some things well in Friday's two-point loss. For instance, the Cats shot 46.4 percent (26-of-56) from the field, a figure that is slightly better than the team's .440 (364-of-828) overall FG percentage. Secondly, UA forced Washington State into 16 turnovers, almost three more than the Cougars average for the season. Thirdly, Arizona did erase a seven-point deficit and tie the contest in the final 2:22, perhaps a nod to the fact that 40 percent (6 of 15) of the Cats' games to date have been decided by five points or less, and that Arizona has learned not to panic in nail-biting situations.

ON THE GLASS: Washington State definitely controlled the boards in Friday's game, posting a 35-26 advantage on the glass. The rebound margin was the third worst of the season for the Wildcats, and dropped UA's record to 4-6 this season when the team is outrebounded. A quick look inside the rebounding numbers, shows the biggest difference in the game. WSU held a modest 12-9 edge in offensive rebounds for the game, but held an 8-4 advantage in that category in the second half alone. All told, four of DeAngelo Casto's six offensive rebounds came in the second half, which enabled the Cougars to grab 41 percent of the rebounds on its end of the court - far greater than the 28 percent of the rebounds Arizona collected at its end.

KEEPING TABS ON TURNOVERS: As mentioned above, Arizona forced Washington State into 16 turnovers Friday, while Arizona committed a season-low 10. The resulting +6 turnover margin was the second-biggest for the Wildcats this season. It marked the first time in five games this season that Arizona has lost a game at home when turning it over less than the opposition and dropped the club's record to 5-2 overall when posting a positive turnover margin.

SOLID SECOND HALF: Arizona did manage to connect on 50 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half on Friday, knocking down 12-of-24 attempts en route to 41 points in the period. In the last two ball games, Arizona has combined to shoot .529 percent (27-of-51) in the second half and has averaged 41.5 points in the second half, a figure that is 5.4 points higher than its season output for the period.

SLOW OUT OF THE GATE: The Wildcats have had trouble getting started at times this season, as the team is just 3-6 when trailing at the 10-minute mark of the first half through its first 15 games. Unfortunately, Friday was more of the same, as the Cats trailed by 10 at that point to Washington State. On a positive note, Friday's game did mark the firs time this season that Arizona was able to turn that deficit around before the break, as the teams were tied at halftime - a first for the Cats this season.

A RARITY: Bolstered by seven steals, Arizona posted a total of 10 blocks and steals Friday, three more than Washington State managed. Usually, that's a recipe for Arizona success, as the Cats were 6-1 when accomplishing the feat prior to Friday's two-point loss. On the steals side, it was a team effort, as six Wildcats accounted for those seven steals.

FOUR IN WINS, USUALLY: Led by Nic Wise's team-high 15 points Friday, Arizona placed four players in double figures vs. Washington State, as Derrick Williams (13), Kyle Fogg (13) and Jamelle Horne (12) each finished with more than 10 points. Friday's loss marked the first time in seven occurrences this season that UA has lost when placing four or more players in double figures. Incidentally, the next time Horne finishes in double figures will be the 20th in his career.

HOLDING THEM DOWN: Washington State connected on 50.9 percent of its field goal attempts (28-of-55) Friday to become just the third team to shoot 50 percent or better against the Cats this season (Vanderbilt/BYU). Overall, opponents are shooting 44.0 percent (396-of-901) from the field through 15 games, a figure that ranks eighth in the Pac-10 Conference entering play on Saturday.

MOVING UP: Nic Wise's 15-point effort Friday moved the senior guard into 38th place of Arizona's career scoring list with 1,064 points (10.7 ppg). The 5-foot-10 Houston, Texas, product passed former Wildcat All-American Mike Bibby with a lay-up with 2:08 remaining in the second half on Friday. Incidentally, Sunday's game will be the 100th career appearance in an Arizona uniform for Wise.

A TOP-NOTCH GUY: Nic Wise entered the week atop the Pac-10 and ranked seventh nationally in free throw percentage, and upped that Friday with a 4-of-4 effort to its current 93.1 percent (67-of-72). The senior guard currently ranks fifth on Arizona's career FT percentage list at .841 (259-of-308). Only two players ahead of Wise on the list (Salim Stoudamire and Joe Nehls) have attempted as many free throws as his 308.

PITCHING IN: Sophomore guard Kyle Fogg tallied 13 points and equaled a season high with four assists Friday to notch his 15th career game with 10 or more points. Additionally, Fogg's 38 points in his last two games is the highest back-to-back scoring output in his 50-game career. His double-figure effort in consecutive games was the fourth such occurrence in his career, and should he score 10 or more Sunday against the Huskies, it would mark the second time in his career that he's reached double figures in three straight games (Jan. 24-31, 2009, vs. Houston/UW/WSU).

MORE FROM THE MIDDLE: Freshman Kyryl Natyazhko put forth a solid effort Friday vs. the Cougars, totaling four points, five rebounds and an assists in 21 minutes of action. It was the fourth time this season that the 6-foot-10 center has collected five or more rebounds. On the season the Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, native is averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds. In the three games that Alex Jacobson has missed due to back spasms, Natyazhko has averaged 15.7 minutes per game.

FITTING HIMSELF IN: Freshman Kevin Parrom seems to make improvements in each game since making his season debut on Dec. 23. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward from the Bronx, N.Y., tallied season-best totals of seven points (3-of-5 FG), two assists and an assist. On the season, parrom is averaging 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds and has logged double-figure minutes in four of five appearances to date.

ON TARGET: With a first-half trey Friday, Nic Wise snapped an 0-for-8 stretch from behind the arc dating back to the North Carolina State game on Dec. 23. Wise, who has connected on 21-of-63 attempts (.333) from behind the arc, still ranks second on the Arizona roster in terms of made treys. At his current pace of 1.4 made treys per game, Wise is on pace to move into the Arizona career top-10 in terms of made three point field goals.

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: Arizona begins a three-game road trip on Thursday, Jan. 14 at Oregon State. The contest begins at 7 p.m. PST and will not be televised. It is the first regularly scheduled UA regular season game not to be televised since Jan. 8, 1998.

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