Cats Close Regular Season vs. Trojans
March 5, 2010
Date: Saturday, March 6, 2010
Time: 11:30 a.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 (15-14, 9-8 Pac-10) closes the 2009-10 regular season with a late-morning game Saturday vs. USC (16-13, 8-9 Pac-10) in McKale Center ... The Wildcats look to stay above .500 overall and in league play and accomplish something its done only once before this season: extend a win streak to three or more games ... Over the last 26 years, Arizona is an impressive 22-4 (.846) in regular season home finales. However, the Cats have dropped three of its last four 'Senior Day' tilts ... Interestingly, only once has USC been the opponent in those games - Feb. 27, 1984, a 55-49 Wildcat victory ... Because it's the easy choice, look for field goal percentage to be a determining factor in this one as USC limits opponents to a .380 field goal percentage and Arizona is 13-2 this season when outshooting 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 135-61 (.689) and 15-14 (.517) 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 0-1 against USC as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Kyle Fogg (19), Lamont Jones (14) and Nic Wise (12) combined to score 45 or Arizona's 49 points in the second half as the Cats raced by the Bruins, 78-73, Thursday night. Trailing by 14 points with 15:53 to go, UA clamped down and outscored UCLA 42-23 the rest of the way. The Cats connected on 63.6 percent of its shots after halftime and limited the Bruins to just 33.3 percent shooting. Fogg hit 7-of-10 shots from three-point range - 5-of-6 in the second half - and finished with a game-high 26 points, while Jones tallied 16 and Wise added 12.
SCOUTING USC: The Trojans enter today's game with a 16-13 record (8-9 Pac-10) following Thursday's 59-54 loss at Arizona State. On the season, USC averages 58.8 points per game, shoots 42.8 percent from the field (633-of-1,478) and 64.7 percent (335-of-518) from the line. Trojan opponents average 56.2 points per game and are outrebounded by an average of 3.5 boards per game. Individually, two USC players average in double figures, led by Dwight Lweis' 13.5 ppg figure. Nikola Vucevic leads the team and the Pac-10 with a 9.6 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 95th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 55-39 series advantage. UA has won 16 of the last 25 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, but USC captured the last contest, 56-50, in Los Angeles on Dec. 31. All-time, Arizona is 28-10 in series games played in Tucson, 24-29 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 110 in the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: USC 56, Arizona 50, Dec. 31, 2009: Hitting 16-of-18 free throws was not enough to offset 15-of-50 shooting from the field, as the Wildcats dropped a six-point decision. 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.
SENIOR CLASS: Arizona's senior class, which includes guard Nic Wise, floor managers Jake Jackson and Billy Kelly, and video manager Jeff Feld, makes its final appearance in front of the home fans this weekend. Over the last four years, the Cats have won nearly 75 games, including a 46-19 (.708) record in McKale Center, won 20 games, advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times and made one Sweet 16 appearance.
RATHER DICKENSIAN: Thursday indeed, was the best and the worst of times for both clubs in what could be called 'A Tale of Two Halves.' UCLA got it going early by connecting on a UA opponent-high 60 percent (15-of-25) of its field goal attempts in the opening stanza and scoring 39 points, while limiting Arizona to 39.1 percent shooting (9-of-23) and 29 points. The Wildcats returned the favor in the second half by shooting 63.6 percent from the field (14-of-22), holding UCLA to just 33.3 percent accuracy (10-of-30) and outscoring the Burins, 49-34.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: A 42-23 spurt over the last 15 minutes of play Thursday enabled Arizona to erase a 14-point deficit and win. The Cats trailed by 10 points at the break and improved its record this season to 5-10 when tied or trailing at halftime. The best part of UA's 5-10 record in such contests - aside from the fact that Thursday's win was the largest halftime deficit overcome this season - is that the team has posted comeback win is each of the last two outings. If you are scoring at home, Arizona has erased a total of 17 points of halftime deficit in its wins over Stanford (7) and UCLA (10). Additionally, Arizona is just 3-13 this year when trailing with five minutes to go in the second half.
WE'RE AT HOME IN CLOSE QUARTERS: Thursday's game was yet another Wildcat affair decided by five points or less, and Arizona moved above .500 in the category at 6-5 on the season. UA seems to have played in tight games throughout, as there have been 11 games to date where the margin with five minutes to go was +/- five points. Through 29 games, Arizona and its foes have scored exactly 2,074 points (71.5 ppg).
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Derrick Williams posted his third career double-double Thursday with 12 points and 11 rebounds against UCLA. The 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., connected on 4-of-5 field goal attempts vs. the Bruins and grabbed eight defensive rebounds. Incidentally, it was Arizona's fifth double-double of 2009-10, as Jamelle Horne also has two to his credit. On the season, Williams averages 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, while shooting .595 (150-of-252) from the field.
SWITCH IT UP: By reinserting Brendon Lavender into the startling lineup Thursday, the combination of Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill, Lavender, Kyle Fogg and Nic Wise was the sixth different lineup used by UA coach Sean Miller this season.
50 PERCENT OR BETTER: On the strength of 63.6 percent shooting in the second half, Arizona topped the 50-percent plateau from the field Thursday for the seventh time this season, and not surprisingly, UA is 7-0 when accomplishing the feat. Against the Bruins, Arizona connected on 23-of-45 shots to register its first 50-point shooting night since Jan. 23, a span of 10 games. The effort certainly signals a return to more accurate shooting, as the Wildcats have connected on 95-of-194 attempts from the field (.490) over its last four games.
SWISH AND REPEAT: Sophomore guard Kyle Fogg connected on 8-of-12 field goals Thursday en route to a career-high 26 points. The 6-foot-3 native of Brea, Calif., hit a career-best and UA season-high 7-of-10 shots from behind the arc, including 5-of-6 in the second half. In a pair of games this season against UCLA, Fogg averaged 25.5 points while shooting .708 (17-of-24) from the field and .727 (8-of-11) from three-point range. Furthermore, Fogg's 19 second-half points Thursday equaled the UA season high for points in any half set four times previously.
20-POINT GAMES: Kyle Fogg's 26-point night Thursday marked his third 20-point game of the season (third career) and was Arizona's 18th this season. All told, Fogg ranks third on the club when it comes to topping 20: Derrick Williams, 9; Nic Wise, 4; Fogg, 3; and Jamelle Horne, 2. Fogg is the first Wildcat to notch a 20-point outing other than Williams since Jan. 31.
WHISKED AWAY: Arizona managed to complete a regular-season sweeps of consecutive Pac-10 opponents after defeating Stanford and UCLA in back-to-back games. In the second half of the conference slate, Arizona was 3-3 in its six opportunities, including a win over Oregon (70-57) and losses to Washington (81-75), Arizona State (73-69) and California (95-71). By comparison, Arizona recorded two Pac-10 sweeps last season and three in 2007-08. UA looks to avoid the season sweep at the hands of USC today.
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Even though he struggled a bit with his shooting touch, senior Nic Wise definitely made an impact on Thursday's outcome by scoring all 12 of his points in the second half and equaling a season high with seven assists (against one turnover). The 5-foot-10 Houston, Texas, product didn't make many shots, but his trey with three minutes to go may have been the biggest of the game, as it extended UA's lead to four points just 19 seconds after it had gained the lead for the first time. Incidentally, Arizona is 27-10 (.730) during Wise's career when he passes out five or more assists in a game.
DELIVERING LATE: Lamont Jones' efforts Thursday continues to mirrored his performance of late, as the freshman guard is averaging 10.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting .516 (32-of-52) from the field in the second half of Pac-10 play. Perhaps more impressively, his assist:turnover ratio is 2:1 (20:10) that span. In the last nine games, no Wildcat has more assists than Jones' 20. Against UCLA, Jones equaled career highs with 16 points and four assists.
GOING SOLO: Freshman Solomon Hill earned his 19th start of the season Thursday and equaled season highs with three steals and a block to go with four points and three rebounds. The 6-foot-6 forward from Los Angeles, Calif., averages 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds through 29 games and is one of just three Cats to be shooting 50 percent or better from the field (15-of-30/.500) in the second half of the Pac-10 season.
ACHIEVING BALANCE: Arizona placed four players in double figures Thursday, as Kyle Fogg (26), Lamont Jones (16), Nic Wise (12) and Derrick Williams (12) each chipped in with 10 or more tallies. It marked the 10th time this season that Arizona has placed four or more players in double figures, and when that happens the Cats are 8-2. The season high for UA players in double figures is six, achieved Jan. 10 vs. Washington.
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: Following this afternoon's game, Arizona travels to Los Angels, Calif., for the 2010 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament, March 10-13, at Staples Center. Seeds and tip times will be announced at the conclusion of the regular season.