Cats, Bears Meet Sunday with First-Place Implications

Jan. 29, 2010

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Date: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010

Time: 1:30 p.m. MST

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

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

TV: FSN (Derrin Horton/Marques Johnson)

GAME DATA: Arizona (11-9, 5-3 Pac-10) closes out the first half of the Pac-10 slate by hosting California (14-6, 6-2 Pac-10) in a nationally televised game Sunday in McKale Center ... A win today would give the Wildcats a share of the conference lead at the turn ... This match-up features the top two scoring teams in the Pac-10 Conference (league games only), as the Golden Bears and Wildcats average 78.5 and 72.6 ppg, respectively ... Arizona attempts to snap a two-game Cal win streak, its longest in the series since 1996 ... From the 'For What It's Worth' File: in Arizona's nine losses to date, opponents average 73.9 ppg, or 3.2 points above the season scoring average, while California opponents average 83.5 points in UC's six losses, or 14.8 points more than the season scoring average.

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 131-56 (.701) and 11-9 (.550) 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 their 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 California.

LAST TIME OUT: Derrick Williams scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half to keep the Cats in front in what turned out to be a 76-68 win over Stanford on Thursday. Arizona led for the final 23:22 of the contest, but needed every point down the stretch, as 11 of the team's final 14 points came from the stripe. UA shot just 32.8 percent for the game, but collected 19 offensive rebounds and forced 18 Stanford turnovers to offset the inaccuracy in what was Arizona's third consecutive victory.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears enter today's game with a 14-6 record (6-2 Pac-10) following Thursday's 78-70 win at Arizona State. On the season, Cal averages 79.1 points per game, shoots 47.8 percent from the field (572-of-1,197) and 73.9 percent (314-of-425) from the line. Golden Bear opponents average 68.7 points per game and are outrebounded by an average of 5.0 boards per game. Individually, four California players average in double figures, led by Jerome Randle's 19.1 ppg figure. Jamal Boykin leads the team with a 6.5 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: This afternoon's game is the 79th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 51-27 advantage in the series, which dates back to Feb. 1, 1924. Arizona has won 18 of the last 22 meetings, but Cal captured the last two, including an 83-77 win in Tucson on March 5, 2009. All-time, Arizona is 26-9 in series games played in Tucson, 22-17 in Berkeley, Calif., and 3-1 in neutral-site games. Please see page 107 in the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: California 83, Arizona 77, March 5, 2009: Jerome Randle connected on 8-of-11 three-point attempts, en route to a game-high 31 points to lead the Golden Bears past the Wildcats. Randle scored 21 of those 31 points in the second half as Cal came from as many as 12 points down to win. Six of his treys came in the second period, including five in the last nine minutes. All told, 48 of Cal's 83 points came courtesy of the trey, as the Golden Bears tallied just 11 field goals inside the arc. Four Cats finished in double figures, led by Chase Budinger's 28 points, on a night that former coach Lute Olson was honored at halftime.

RANDOM MUSINGS: Today's game marks Arizona's fourth of five scheduled games for Sunday this season and the Cats are 2-1 so far. It's been far better for UA to play on Sunday afternoons as opposed to Sunday nights, as the Cats have a pair of 17-point wins (Northern Arizona/Washington) during daylight hours and a 17-point loss (at Oklahoma) in the evening. Taking that a step farther, Arizona is 5-2 this season in afternoon games, i.e. those with a local tip time prior to 6 p.m.

CHARTING PROGRESS: Regardless of how today's game goes, Arizona will finish January with its best monthly record to date under Sean Miller, and the team's second winning month of the season. UA opened 2009-10 with a 3-2 (.600) record in November, went 3-5 (.375) in December, and has progressed with a 5-2 (.714) record in January.

FRESHMEN SENSATIONS: Freshman Derrick Williams notched his seventh 20-point game of the season - and his fourth consecutive - to put himself into rarified air. The 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., became the first UA freshman since Gilbert Arenas from Feb. 12-26, 2000, to score 20 or more points in four consecutive games. By comparison, Williams is averaging 20.8 ppg in his run, while Arenas averaged 24.3 ppg. In terms of numbers of 20-point games in a freshman campaign, Williams has passed every other recent UA scorer of note in that category except Arenas (1999-200) and Sean Elliott (1985-86), who each collected eight 20-point games in their first collegiate seasons. For reference, the gold standard of Arizona freshman scoring will always be the duo of Coniel Norman and Eric Money, who in 1972-73 combined for 30 games with 20 or more points. Norman registered 17 such efforts, including two streaks of eight straight, while Money tallied 13 20-point nights with a best of four consecutive.

FINDING A WAY: Somehow, Arizona managed to win a game in which it shot just 32.8 percent (21-of-64) from the field. Not only was it Arizona's second-lowest field goal percentage of the season, but it marked the firs time since Dec. 19, 2007, in a 52-49 win at UNLV that Arizona has shot less than 35 percent from the field and won the game. For a look at how the Cats accomplished the feat, check out the next two notes.

TURNING THEM OVER: The Wildcats forced the Cardinal into 18 turnovers Thursday, which was the most for a Pac-10 opponent this year and equaled the third-highest total of the season. To date, Arizona is 7-2 in 2009-10 when forcing more miscues than it commits, and UA is 4-0 this season when the turnover margin favors the Cats by a +4 margin or better. Additionally, the +8 turnover margin that Arizona enjoyed Thursday was the second largest of the season, trailing only a +9 margin on Dec. 23 vs. North Carolina State.

BIG ON THE BOARDS: UA continues to do fine work on the glass, as the team outrebounded Stanford, 38-34, on Thursday. Included in the effort was a season-high 19 offensive rebounds. Just how good was the effort on the offensive glass? Arizona's effort in both halves (10 in the first/9 in the second) was as good as the team's per game average (9.5 orpg) entering the contest. The Wildcats have outrebounded seven of eight foes in Pac-10 play and UA's +5.0 rebound margin in league play is a 4.6 rebounds per game improvement over its season-long average. To date, UA has outrebounded 11 opponents but it hasn't been a strong success indicator, as the Cats are 7-4 when collecting more caroms, including a 5-2 mark in league action.

MAKING IT TOUGH: Arizona allowed Stanford to shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half Thursday (15-of-30), marking the first time in four games that a UA opponent had reached the 50-percent plateau in any half. Such an effort has been part of UA continued improvement defensively, as the Cats currently rank second in the league in field goal percentage defense (conference games only) at 41.8 percent.

CLOSING IT OUT: The Wildcats may not have closed out Thursday's game authoritatively, but they did manage to earn an eight-point win. Regardless of the circumstance, Arizona has been good when putting itself in a position to win. To date, UA is 8-1 when leading with five minutes to go in the second half, including a 5-1 mark in Pac-10 play. The lone blemish on the record came Jan. 14 at Oregon State.

STEAL AWAY: Led by Kyle Fogg's season-high three steals Thursday, Arizona collected a total of nine pilfers against Stanford, a figure that is well above UA's per game average of 5.9 steals per game. It also was the third-highest single-game total for the Wildcats this season.

SPEAKING OF STEALS: Senior Nic Wise picked up a pair of steals on Thursday bringing his career total to 150 (1.5 spg). The 5-foot-10 Houston, Texas, native ranks second among all active Pac-10 players when it comes to pilfers and is just seven steals shy of taking sole possession of 10th place on the Arizona career steals list.

KNOCKING THEM DOWN: Bolstered by Nic Wise, who was 10-of-12, Arizona connected on 27-of-34 (.794) free throw attempts in Thursday's win. The 27 free throws made equaled a season high and marked the seventh time this season that Arizona has made 20 or more charity tosses in a single game. The Wildcats lead the Pac-10 in free throw percentage at .743 (367-of-494). Incidentally, UA starters were a collective 25-of-29 (.862) from the stripe Thursday, including a career-best 5-of-6 from forward Jamelle Horne.

NUMBERS WORTH MENTIONING: Two numbers worth noting in Thursday's box score were Solomon Hill's five offensive rebounds and Lamont Jones' four assists. Hill's rebound total was a UA season high on the offensive end and nearly matched Stanford's output (7) for the game. The 6-foot-6 freshman forward ranks third on the team with a 4.7 rebounds per game average. Jones equaled a season best with those four assists and now has six helpers in his last two games, a nice boost over his 1.3 assists per game average for the year.

10 OR MORE: Sophomore guard Kyle Fogg poured in 15 points Thursday to register his seventh consecutive game in double figures. It was also the 20th time in his career that the 6-foot-3 guard has scored 10 or more points with 12 of those coming this season. Fogg is currently averaging a career-best 11.1 points per game.

NOT TOO OFTEN: Arizona's win Thursday was just its second of the season when it shot a lower field goal percentage than the opponent (.328-.472).

SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE: To call today's game a race to 70 points might not be accurate, but that is a key figure to both clubs, as California is 12-4 this season when scoring 70 or more points, while Arizona is 10-3 when accomplishing the feat.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 87 points Jan. 10 vs. Washington, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fifth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 185-19 (.907) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 5-0 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 heads back out on the road Following today's game, as the Cats travel to Seattle to face Washington on Thursday, Feb. 4. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on FOX Sports Net.

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