Wildcats Win 27 Games, Diamond Head Classic; Advance to Sweet 16
SEASON Data: Arizona (27-8, 12-6 Pac-12) won 27 games, finished in a tie for second place in the Pac-12 regular-season standings and participated in the NCAA Tournament ... It marked the 34th 20-win season and the 35th postseason appearance in school history (30 NCAA Tournaments) ... The Wildcats won the Diamond Head Classic championship in December ... Arizona earned its 29th consecutive on-court winning season, the longest active streak in the Pac-12 ... UA ranked 19th nationally in rebound margin (+6.3) and 22nd in free throw percentage (.749) ... Forward Solomon Hill and guard Mark Lyons were both first-team all-Pac-12 selections and both earned all-district kudos as well.
The Rankings: UA finished 2012-13 ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll and 14th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll. The Wildcats were one of only 11 programs nationally to appear in all 21 polls this season, marking the first time since 2004-05 that Arizona was ranked in every polling period over the course of a season. UA spent 13 weeks ranked in the top 10 and is the first Pac-12 program to achieve a top-10 ranking since UCLA in 2009.
Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller . . . completed his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 216-90 (.706) and 96-43 (.691) at Arizona ... In his nine-year career, Miller’s teams have won 20 games seven times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... He guided UA to 30 wins and the 2011 Pac-10 regular-season championship in a run that culminated in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 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 17 trips to the postseason in his 21 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (10 NCAA/7 NIT) and has an 11-6 (.647) 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 27 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last three seasons ... He was assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack.
ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS: As a team, Arizona ranked in the top 100 nationally in eight statistical categories: rebound margin (+6.3/19th), free throw percentage (.749/2nd), scoring margin (+9.8/26th), scoring offense (73.4/42nd), three-point field goal percentage (.371/43rd), field goal percentage (.455/63rd), field goal percentage defense (.411/93rd) and scoring defense (63.6/99th). Individually, Mark Lyons was the highest-ranked Wildcat, checking in at No. 40 nationally in free throw percentage (.856), while Nick Johnson ranked 58th nationally in steals per game (1.9).
We’ll Carry the Banner: Arizona has long been known as one of the flagship basketball programs in the West, and that excellence has continued under Sean Miller. Over the last four years, the Wildcats have the best record among Pac-12 schools in terms of overall wins (96) and winning percentage (.691). Additionally, UA’s 48-24 (.667) record in Pac-12 games is the best in the league, a mark shared with California. Arizona is averaging 24.0 wins per season under Miller, an improvement over the six seasons (21.7) prior to his arrival.
Sweet 16s: By virtue of its 23-point win over Harvard on March 23, Arizona earned a berth in its 15th Sweet 16 and the seventh for the program since 2001. In that span, Arizona’s seven Sweet 16 appearances rank fourth nationally, trailing only Kansas (10), Duke (10) and Michigan State (8) when it comes to playing into the tournament’s second weekend.
With Regularity: In his nine seasons as a head coach, Sean Miller has made six NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wildcat mentor has proven to be good at advancing when he gets there, as this was his fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last six seasons. Since 2008, Miller is one of seven coaches nationally to appear in four or more regional semifinals in that span. The list includes Tom Izzo, Michigan State; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; and Bill Self, Kansas (5 each); and Sean Miller, Xavier and Arizona; John Calipari, Memphis and Kentucky; Roy Williams, North Carolina; and Thad Matta, Ohio State (4 each).
All-Regional: After averaging 24.3 points per game in his three NCAA Tournament appearances, Mark Lyons was named to the all-West Regional squad. In those three games, the senior guard shot 59.1 percent from the field (26-of-44) and 42.1 percent from three-point range. His 73 points in those three games was Arizona’s fifth-best three-game NCAA total ever, as three of his team-leading nine 20-point games came in the NCAA Tournament. Lyons’ all-NCAA Regional accolade was the 22nd in school history.
ALL-DISTRICT: Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons were all-District IX picks by the USBWA and the NABC. Hill, a 6-foot-7 forward from Los Angeles, Calif., was an all-district selection by the NABC in 2012, while Lyons, a 6-foot-1 guard from Schenectady, N.Y., garnered all-district honors for the first time in his career. It was the 17th time in school history that two or more UA players earned all-district honors in the same season by the writers.
PAC-12 HONORS: Four Wildcats earned postseason honors from the Pac-12 Conference, as the league released its all-conference team on March 18 with Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons earning first-team all-conference designations. Additionally, Nick Johnson was an honorable mention all-defensive team honoree and Kaleb Tarczewski was an honorable mention all-freshman pick.
BIG DRAW: For the 29th consecutive season, Arizona led the Pac-12 Conference in attendance, averaging 14,157 in 16 regular season home dates. UA posted 10 sellouts in McKale Center in 2012-13, including all nine Pac-12 home games, and went over eight million in lifetime attendance. The Wildcats’ average attendance this season was the best for the program since 2007-08 (14,218). Incidentally, Arizona has proven to be strong road draw as well, playing to an average of 130 percent above each team’s season attendance average in its nine Pac-12 road games. That draw was also evident at the Pac-12 Tournament, where Arizona’s sessions drew an average of 13,033 fans in the 13,151-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena (99% of capacity), while the other four sessions drew an average of 9,421 (72% of capacity).
Offensive Balance: While the triumvirate of Mark Lyons (546 points), Solomon Hill (468) and Nick Johnson (403) scored 55 percent of Arizona’s points this season, the Cats did get contributions from others, as a total of six players scored more than 200 points in 2012-13. This year’s team joins Arizona’s 2010-11 squad as the only teams in the Sean Miller era to have six or more players tally 200 or more points. Prior to Miller’s arrival, it had been four seasons since the Cats had accomplished the feat (2005-06).
The Single-Season Charts: Arizona managed to post figures in a few statistical categories that place it among the best single-season efforts in UA history. Collectively, UA’s 725 three-point field goal attempts ranked third, while its 269 treys tied for third place. Additionally, the Cats’ .749 free throw percentage tied for fourth and the 134 blocked shots ranked 10th. Individually, Mark Lyons’ 201 three-point field goal attempts and his .856 free throw percentage ranked seventh and 10th, respectively, while Nick Johnson’s 68 steals was the eighth-best, single-season effort in school history.
IT’S WHAT WE DO: The Wildcats posted a +10.0 rebound margin and outboarded two of three opponents. Though 35 games, Arizona carried a +6.3 rebound margin and outrebounded 25 of 35 opponents this season, including 14 of 20 conference foes (counting the postseason tournament). Arizona was 22-3 when outrebounding the opposition this season and 72-16 (.818) when accomplishing the feat.
From LONG RANGE: For the second season in a row, Arizona led the Pac-12 Conference with an average of 7.7 three-point FGs made per game, which is a slight improvement over last season’s 7.4 treys-per-game figure. Three Cats ranked among the league’s most accurate long-range shooters in Kevin Parrom (6th/.396), Nick Johnson (7th/.393) and Solomon Hill (8th/.390), while a fourth Grant Jerrett (.405) would have made the list had he had enough attempts to qualify. Over the last two seasons, UA has connected on 37.4 percent (527-of-1,408) of its attempts from behind the arc.
Knock ‘Em Down: The Wildcats did great job all season long of getting to the free throw line, as the club averaged 20.6 free throw attempts per game and made an average of 2.7 more free throws per game than the opposition. On the year, UA connected on 74.9 percent (541-of-722) of its charity tosses, which equaled the fourth-best percentage in UA single-season annals and marked the 16th consecutive season that the Cats have topped the 70-percent plateau as a team. During the Sean Miller era, Arizona has connected on 72.2 percent (2,325-of-3,221) of its cumulative free throw attempts.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Arizona forwards Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley shared the team lead with a pair of double-doubles each this season. One of Hill’s double-double, a 13-point, 10-rebound effort vs. Harvard on March 23, came during the NCAA Tournament. Hill finished his career with 14 double-doubles.
Trending Toward Success: Field goal percentage and turnovers proved a good measure of success, as UA was 20-2 when outshooting the opposition and 7-6 when not; further, UA was 17-2 when committing the same or fewer turnovers and 10-6 when committing more. Additionally, the Cats were a spotless 7-0 when shooting better than 50 percent from the field as a team.
Close Calls: Arizona was 11-5 in games decided by 10 points or less, including a 5-4 mark in games decided by five points or less. As mentioned above, the Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in wins and winning percentage over the last four seasons and during the Sean Miller era, nearly 40 percent of UA’s defeats in that span (17 of 43) have come by five points or less. That means, of course, that Arizona has been more than close in nearly every game it plays.
A High Honor: Forward Solomon Hill was named the 2013 winner of the Arizona athletic department’s Sapphire Award, given to the male athlete of the year. Hill joins some elite company, as he is just the third men’s basketball player to win the award since it was first given in 1996, joining Jason Gardner (2003) and Channing Frye (2005).
A Scoring Machine: Senior guard Mark Lyons tallied 546 points (15.6 ppg) in his one season in Tucson, coming in at number 31 on the UA single-season scoring list. His ability to put the ball in the basket ranks among the best in Arizona annals, as he places third behind Jerryd Bayless (592 points in 2007-08) and Coniel Norman (576 in 1972-73) in terms of first-year scorers. Among first-year transfers into Arizona, Lyons obviously topped the list, bettering Chris Mills’ first-year effort in 1990-91 by a single point.
Shuffling the Deck: Sean Miller employed just three different starting lineups in 2012-13, the fewest since he took over in Tucson.
WHAT’S SCHEDULED TO RETURN: With seven letterwinners from this club scheduled to return in 2013-14, a total of 40.0 percent of the points scored (1,027 of 2,570), 43.9 percent of the rebounding (559 of 1,273), 40.5 percent of the assists (193 of 476) and 44.3 percent of the minutes played (3,109 of 7,025) should come back as well.
Perseverance: Senior swingman Kevin Parrom finally found himself well enough to play a full season and responded with the best season of his career. The 6-foot-6 native of the Bronx, N.Y., averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while posting a 1.8:1 assist:turnover ratio. Parrom saw action in all 35 games, making a career-best 12 starts, and shot better than 48 percent from the field. He finished in double figures 10 times in 2012-13.
Stepping Up: Sophomore guard Nick Johnson consistently displayed the ability to be a difference maker at both ends, as he averaged a career-best 11.5 points per game and ranked in the Pac-12’s top 10 in both assists (10th) and steals (4th). Additionally, the 6-foot-3 native of Gilbert, Ariz., knocked down 42 treys and shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc. He enters his junior campaign just 285 points shy of becoming Arizona’s 48th career 1,000-point scorer.
An Experienced Cat: Junior Jordin Mayes enters the 2013-14 season as Arizona’s most experienced player with 102 career appearances, including seven games of NCAA Tournament experience. In 2012-13, the 6-foot-3 guard from Los Angeles, Calif., averaged 2.8 points and 0.9 assists per game and tallied nearly 40 percent of his points on the season over the final eight games.
Consistently Good: Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski performed as consistently as any of UA’s freshmen, as he posted per game averages of 6.6 points and 6.1 rebounds, while leading the team with a .538 (84-of-156) field goal percentage. The 7-foot, 255-pound native of Claremont, N.H., averaged 7.8 points and 7.6 boards per game over his last 10 games to go with a .622 FG percentage. Thirteen times he led UA in rebounding and grabbed five or more rebounds in game 24 times in 2012-13, while also collecting 23 blocked shots.
In the Mix: Forward Brandon Ashley put forth a solid effort in his freshman season, averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game to go with a .525 (93-of-177) field goal percentage. He was one of two Wildcats (Tarczewski) to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, tied for the team lead with two double-doubles and was one of four Cats to register a 20-point game in 2012-13.
In March: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 67-36 (.650) record in the month of March. In that span, 43 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 30-13 (.698) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 15-9 (.625) in March.
Scoring 80: Arizona scored 80 points in its NCAA Tournament opener vs. Belmont, topping the 80-point plateau for the eighth time this year (8-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 214-20 (.915) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 34-1 when scoring 80 or more points.
Always on the Run: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs this season, including a 17-2 run over 7:09 to open its NCAA Tournament third-round win over Harvard on March 23. Below is a quick look at UA’s notable runs of greater than 14 points in 2012-13:
26-3 run over 8:41 (2nd) at Texas Tech, Dec. 1
30-8 run over 12:57 (1st+2nd) vs. Washington, Feb. 20
27-8 run over 6:53 (2nd+ot) vs. Colorado, Jan. 3
21-4 run over 9:07 (2nd) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
23-6 run over 7:55 (1st) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
22-7 run over 8:56 (2nd) at Clemson, Dec. 8
17-2 run over 7:09 (1st) vs. Harvard, March 23
18-4 run over 6:28 (1st) vs. USC, Jan. 26
GRADUATION: The most rewarding note of the season is the one that came last: three of Arizona’s basketball seniors – Quinton Crawford, Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom – completed their degree requirements in May. A fourth, Max Wiepking, will earn his degree in December. Since becoming a head coach nine seasons ago, 27 of 27 student-athletes to complete their eligibility under Sean Miller have earned their degrees, including 10 of the 10 seniors in the last four years at Arizona.
Recruiting Class: The Arizona coaching staff signed three student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent as part of the Class of 2103. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F, 6-7, 215) from Chester, Pa., who attended Chester H.S.; and Elliott Pitts (G, 6-5, 180) from Dublin, Calif., who prepped at De La Salle H.S., signed with the Cats in November. Aaron Gordon (F, 6-8, 210) from San Jose, Calif., who attended Archbishop Mitty H.S., signed in April. Additionally, UA added transfer Zach Peters (F, 6-10, 240) from Plano, Texas, and the University of Kansas, this spring to solidify a four-man class that is ranked No. 5 nationally by espn.com.