Cats Host Bruins Thursday in McKale

March 1, 2010

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Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time: 8:30 p.m. MST

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

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

TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins/Marcus Johnson)

GAME DATA: Arizona (14-14, 8-8 Pac-10) plays closes the 2009-10 regular season with a pair of home games beginning Thursday vs. UCLA (13-15, 8-8 Pac-10) in McKale Center ... The Wildcats enter the contest looking to stay above .500 both overall and in conference play ... In seven Pac-10 home games, UA averages 72.7 points and posts a +4.0 scoring margin and both of those are above its season-long averages ... The biggest statistical differences in Pac-10 home games are in rebounding, where UA outboards foes by a +4.0 margin, and free throws, where UA outscores opponents by an average of 5.3 points per game in those seven contests ... While the game may have a late-night feel to it, the 8:30 p.m. MST (or later) tips have been good to the Cats in 2009-10, as the club is 4-0 in such affairs heading into tonight's action.

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 134-61 (.687) and 14-14 (.500) 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 1-1 against UCLA as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Lamont Jones' runner at the buzzer lifted Arizona to an 71-69 road victory Saturday. His heroics were set up following Derrick Williams' block of a dunk attempt with five ticks remaining. The Cats erased an 11-point second half deficit, including a four-point hole with 2:26 to go, by outshooting (.536-.414) and outrebounding (20-18) the Cardinal in the period. Jones scored 11 of his career-high 16 points in that second half, while Williams added 24 points and six rebounds.

SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins enter today's game with a 13-15 record (8-8 Pac-10) following Saturday's 70-68 loss to Oregon. On the season, UCLA averages 66.9 points per game, shoots 47.4 percent from the field (692-of-1,460) and 61.8 percent (325-of-526) from the line. UCLA opponents average 68.1 points per game and outrebound the Bruins by an average of 0.5 boards per game. Individually, four UCLA players average in double figures, led by Michael Roll's 13.6 ppg figure. Tyler Honeycutt leads the team with a 6.6 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 80th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 46-33 series advantage. Arizona has won 13 of the last 24 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, including an 77-63 win at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 2. All-time, Arizona is 19-14 in series games played in Tucson, 13-29 in Westwood, and 1-3 in neutral-site games. See page 109 of the UA media guide for more series information.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 77, UCLA 63, Jan. 2, 2010: Arizona won its first true road game of the season in convincing fashion, taking the lead for good just 3:18 into the contest and building as much as a 20-point lead. The Cats limited the Bruins to just 20.8 percent shooting in the first half and jumped out to a 35-20 lead at the break. In the win, Arizona outshot, outrebounded and forced more turnovers than UCLA. Kyle Fogg scored 19 of his career-high 25 points in the second half and joined in double figures by Jamelle Horne (17) and Derrick Williams (16).

BMOC: Lamont Jones guided Arizona by averaging 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists as Arizona split a pair of games last week. The freshman guard connected on 52.4 percent of his field goals (11-of-21), hit all three free throws (1.000) and added a steal. His per-game averages for the week were more than double his season averages in scoring and rebounding. Jones opened the week by hitting 4-of-6 field goals en route to 10 points, five rebounds and a career-high four assists Thursday at California. He followed that up with a career-best 16 points (7-of-15 FG), three rebounds and a steal in Saturday's win at Stanford. Jones scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, including the game-winning field goal at the buzzer. It marked the third time this season that Jones has registered back-to-back double-figure scoring games and his eighth total this year. On the year, Jones averages 6.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 41.5 percent (68-of-164) from the field.

CAUGHT THEM AT THE FINISH: Led by Derrick Williams (12) and Lamont Jones (11), who scored 23 of Arizona's 40 second-half points, Arizona posted its second come-from-behind win of the season Saturday at Stanford. Trailing by 11 points as late as 12:15 remaining, the Wildcats outscored the Cardinal 27-14 the rest of the way to earn the victory. Down the stretch, UA connected on 10-of-18 shots (.556), while limiting Stanford to just 5-of-15 (.333) shooting. To date, Arizona has a 2-13 record when trailing with five minutes remaining in the second half, and Saturday's win was UA's first in Pac-10 play.

CLOSE SHAVES: Lamont Jones' 17-foot runner at the buzzer was Arizona's third game winner of the season, as Nic Wise collected game-winners in back-to-back games on Dec. 21 and 23. The win was Arizona's fifth of the season in games decided by five points or less and evened UA's record at 5-5 in such occurrences. It wouldn't be unusual for a 14-14 club to have played a number of evenly-matched ball games, but after 28 games and 5,700 minutes of action, the differential in points scored by Arizona (1,996) and its opponents (2,001) is just five.

HIGHER AND HIGHER: By connecting on 63.6 percent of his field goal attempts last week (14-of-22), freshman Derrick Williams continues to push his field goal percentage to impressive levels, especially for a first-year player. On the season, Williams is shooting .591 (146-of-247) from the field, a figure that leads the team and ranks among the best in the Pac-10 Conference. For comparison's sake, Williams would have to raise his accuracy to .599 or better to etch himself among UA's single season top 10.

BENCH BOOST: The Cats got a nice boost from its bench in both games this week, posting a 47-26 advantage against California and Stanford. UA got three double-figure scoring efforts from its reserves in those two games. Saturday at Stanford, Arizona held a 17-9 bench-points advantage in its two-point win over the Cardinal.

ON THE MARK: After struggling from the field earlier in the month, Arizona seems to have regained its shooting touch. Over the last three games, Arizona is shooting a cumulative 48.3 percent (72-of-149) from the field and 42.3 percent (22-of-52) from three-point range. In its previous four February games, the Cats connected on 42.5 percent (94-of-221) of its field goal attempts and just 28.8 percent (21-of-73) from three-point range. Through 28 games, Arizona shoots 44.2 percent (669-of-1514) from the field and 35.9 percent (175-of-488) from behind the arc.

AT BOTH ENDS: While the game-winning bucket received its share of attention Saturday, don't overlook the contributions of forward Derrick Williams, who shared game-high honors with 24 points and added six rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes played. The 6-foot-8 freshman from La Mirada, Calif., actually ignited the game-ending play by blocking a dunk attempt by Stanford's Jack Trotter with five seconds to go in what was Arizona's only blocked shot of the contest. At the other end of the court, Williams connected on 8-of-10 field goals to notch his ninth 20-point game of the season and his 25th game in double figures. He leads the Wildcats with per game averages of 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, while shooting .591 (146-of-247) from the floor.

COLLECTING CAROMS: Led by guards Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender, who each equaled career highs with eight and four boards, respectively, Arizona outrebounded Stanford, 36-32, Saturday. The Wildcats have outrebounded opponents in 11 of 16 Pac-10 games and hold a +2.0 rebound margin in conference play, a 1.9 board improvement over its 28-game output. The effort has enabled UA to pull down more rebounds than the opposition. This season, Arizona is 9-6 when winning the rebound battle. Not surprisingly, Arizona has won the rebounding battle in all four of its Pac-10 road wins this season.

BOOK IT: Arizona has gone through its share of streaks and momentum changes, but one thing has held true: when Arizona outshoots the opposition, it wins ball games. Arizona outshot Stanford, .491-.458, and improved to 12-2 this season when posting a higher field goal percentage than the opposition. UA closed the month of February with a 2-5 record and this shooting trend held true in each of those results.

CLAMPING DOWN: Arizona answered the call Saturday and locked down defensively to fuel the comeback over Stanford. After allowing the Cardinal to shoot 50 percent (15-of-30) from the field in the first half, the Cats limited Stanford to just 41.4 percent shooting (12-of-29) in the second half, including 1-of-9 (.111) from three-point range. In the last seven minutes of the contest, Stanford was 2-of-8 from the field.

ELITE COMPANY: Senior Nic Wise enters play this week just seven points shy of moving into sole possession of 25th place on the Arizona career scoring list. The 5-foot-10 senior has 1,240 career points in 112 career appearances (11.1 ppg) and sits in 26th place behind Link Richmond, who tallied 1,246 points from 1943-49. Since the start of the 2007-08 season, Wise is averaging 13.3 points per game.

ONE FROM ALL: An interesting bit of balance was on display Saturday, as six different players knocked down treys for the Cats in Maples Pavilion. Arizona connected on 35.3 percent (6-of-17) of its three-point field goal attempts and Derrick Williams, Jamelle Horne, Solomon Hill, Kyle Fogg, Nic Wise and Lamont Jones each hit one trey apiece. On the year, Arizona shoots .359 (175-of-488) from behind the arc.

GIVE HIM THE BALL: Lamont Jones' heroics Saturday mirrored his performance of late, as the freshman guard is averaging 9.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while shooting .500 (27-of-54) from the field in the second half of Pac-10 play. Perhaps more impressively, his assist:turnover ratio is 2:1 (16:8) that span. The effort has boosted his season assist:turnover ratio to the positive at 1.1:1 (41:38). He is one of four Cats to have a positive assist:turnover ratio at this point of the season.

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: The 2009-10 regular season comes to a close on Saturday, March 6, as Arizona hosts USC. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. MST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and FS Arizona.

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